When I started out, people didn’t know what coaching was, they used to think I had something to do with buses. In fact, if you searched for a Life Coach, you’d get listing for bus and coaching transport companies.
It’s hard to believe how much coaching has changed over the past decade. For most people the changes have been subtly non-detectable as the benefits of coaching have continued to be positive and well documented, even if the focus and delivery of coaching has evolved.
I started my coaching journey back in March 2002 with the first of five training sessions that completed in September 2002, launching me as a Co-Active trained coach. Back then most people I knew talked about Life Coaching – that’s if they mentioned coaching at all. Many of the conversations I had focused on personal development or life issues, with just a handful of clients looking to improve their work prospects or to deal with specific work situations. And as the statistics back in 2007 and 20023 highlight, the majority of these clients were women.
As a new sector there was a lot of confusion around what coaching was, especially when most people assumed I was some sort of sports coach or even worked on the buses! You were either a Life Coach or an Executive Coach with very different agendas and client base. Much of my time was spent educating what it was and not, which I did by doing sample sessions or running live free events, often held at local libraries. There was no real social media back then, so promotion was by website, word of mouth and good old internal and external directories. Every client who found me paid for the sessions themselves, as having a Life Coach was almost a secret activity that very few people admitted to having, so seeking financial support from work didn’t happen decades ago, compared with today.
Compare that today, having a coach is seen as a positive training and tailored solution for the individual or the team. Coaching clients who come to me personally these days are comfortable to ask work to contribute to some if not all of the coaching fee. Just ask work colleagues, the majority of them have had some form of coaching formally or informally.
Over the 21 years, I’ve maintained my professional development of coaching, solution focused practices, inner leadership as well as mental wellbeing, which has kept me and my clients on their learning toes. Having a wealth of tools and experience coaching with me looks and feels different each time. Over the years I’ve delivered coaching walking up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and in and around Edinburgh, on a bike by riding side by side, moving around the room, lying on the floor (both me and the client), or coaching in relative silence, using metaphors, a variety of props to try on as well as reflective cards. Back in 2002 I only offered one to one coaching and group training, whereas now I not only work with individuals but teams via team coaching or action learning and the training offerings these days include a focus on inner leadership and wellbeing as well.
And how I’ve coached has come full circle. Back in 2002 the majority of coaching was on the phone, often weekly or bi-weekly with clients. I hardly ever met my clients and for most of them I didn’t know what they looked like, and only got to know them once the coaching started. These days, even before I meet a new client, I’m able to see what they look like via LinkedIn or a Google search, so even before a telephone or online conversation I know a little bit about them. Before Covid, there was more of a preference for face-to-face coaching, yet latterly meeting at a distance has become the norm. Whilst these days most of my online coaching is done with a camera on, either due to bandwidth or personal preference, coaching in the dark (camera off) has become more acceptable again.
The statistics suggest that topics have changed slightly towards the broad topic of leadership for all, though the majority of clients still remain predominately female. For Kapow Coaching it’s more of a 60/40 split and depending on which year you reflect on this could be more like 20/80 female to male ratio.
What the ICF Global Coaching Study doesn’t highlight is how boundaries around coaching have changed. Back in 2002 I was very clear on when to coach and when to pass on a client to a therapist to support them on more deeper topics or reoccurring patterns of behaviour. Whilst coaching dealt with feelings, there was a clear line as to what topics to avoid. Very few clients talked about their wellbeing, their desire to be more resilient, their levels of stress or anxiety or even their confidence – topics that frequently are brought to my coaching table in 2023. The boundaries between coach and therapist have somewhat been moved as like me, many coaches have responded to the state of the nation by retraining to be a Mental Fitness Coach or to develop their skills as a trauma informed coach – concepts that would have been alien back in 2002.
The coaching industry was still fresh, and the ICF only formed in 1995 and were amongst a handful of global coaching associations. In 1999 they had a membership base of just over 2,100, compared to 2022, where the ICF had a membership tally of just over 56,000 worldwide.
- In 2007 it was believed there to between 30,000 to 50,000 coaches worldwide. 68.7% were female with the majority being between the age of 46 and 55 years.
- In 2007 the majority of respondents had been coaching for less than 10 years (86.4%).
- In the ICF’s 2007 Global Coaching Study they confirmed that “female clients” were focusing more on “non business areas such as Health and Fitness, therapeutic and Alternative Services” compared with their male counterpart who focused more on ”business focus such as Executive of Business / Organisation” However, the key focus for clients was on “Leadership 58.1%, Executive Coaching (57.8%) and Business / Organisation (53.6%).”
(Results from 5415 coaches across 73 countries participated in the study.)
- Only 18.7% of respondents held credentials with the ICF.
- A one-hour coaching fee in 2007, according to the ICF, was anywhere between $174 and $250.
- Coaching was delivered either face to face or over the phone, the majority being over the telephone.
- In the latest ICF study, in 2023 there were 109,200 coaches worldwide, an increase of 54% since the 2019 pandemic. With one in two coaches (48%) being from Generation X and female coaches still dominant by 72%.
- In In the ICF’s 2023 Global Coaching Study they confirmed that “Leadership was the main area of coaching most frequently mentioned in the survey (34%), followed by executive coaching (17%) and business/organizations (13%).”
(Results from 14,591 coaches across 157 countries participated in the study.)
- A one-hour coaching fee in 2023, was on average $244, though far less in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Remote coaching using video and online platforms has become a trend.