Trends 2020: Coaching in the age of 4IR


The international coaching market is growing, largely as a result of business and political leaders looking to improve their own prospects and – more importantly – the prospects of those they lead. Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or 4IR – is vital across all industries, and business and development coaching is no different. This means going digital.

The reach of digital distribution makes online a medium that levels the playing fields for everyone – coaches and the people they work with. It means someone can choose a coach that has the best possible attributes for his or her own needs, and work with them from anywhere in the world.

To stay relevant, coaching must make the most of social media, Skype, blogs, vlogs and all other engagement platforms that clients best relate to. Far from removing the personal aspect of coaching, technology can enhance it. An example of this is one of the large South African banks that offers motivational tips for its business clients.

Teaching through tech is the best way to reach just about every demographic, so as long as there is connectivity, there can be coaching of a global standard. As with online education initiatives, leaders get the opportunity to choose a coach they will best relate to, regardless of where they both are.

The importance of this for the African continent cannot be overstated. Where African organisations may have missed certain aspects of the digital revolution, we are not in a position to leapfrog, by using lessons already learned and picking up at the next level.

Working with a coach who can set tasks for clients to complete and share levels of development that may not yet be in practise in a specific African country. The ability it takes to do this is the same ability that is required for organisations to be agile in 4IR.

A vital and growing sector for coaches is women in technology. While women have not necessarily been recognised for technological achievements, there are many who have contributed to the rapid pace of tech innovations; and many more who are contributing now.

As the global village interconnects, the gender gap and other biases can become invisible online, meaning women or men can coach others regardless of who they are or where in the world they reside. Women need no longer fear that their tech experience will be seen as any less valuable than that of men.

As we look forward to a new decade, I think there are a few trends both coaches and those seeking coaching should bear in mind:

– Coaching will become an integral part of African leadership development, with more governments, organisations and individuals looking to stay abreast of best practise in their professional and personal lives.

–  Africa must note the communal, Ubuntu-based models it lives and works by, and be ready to share these with the world. We have a unique offering and coaches are best placed to teach this globally, while African politicians, business leaders and scholars can hone these skills to their benefit through working with business and development coaches.

– Coaching in the political space will grow as younger leaders realise the value of social media for global messaging, but need to project the right image for the parties they represent. As things stand now, there are political leaders here who are engaging with coaches to safeguard their reputations and grow their following into productive members of broader society.

Brian Mhlanga is the Executive Business & Leadership Coach. He has travelled the African continent coaching, investigating and writing about the importance of business and leadership coaching, and how coaching can gain from keeping up with technology and how Business and Leadership coaching can be made more accessible to organisations and individual that require it.