When it comes to the coaching profession, South Africa is following international trends with increasing numbers of qualified coaches, growing buyer awareness of what coaching has to offer and expanding coaching education opportunities.
We asked three experienced South African coaches, who work in the corporate environment and also mentor, supervise and educate student coaches at SACAP’s Graduate School of Coaching and Leadership, to give their insights about the future of coaching in the country.
As a transformative process, coaching has enormous potential to help individuals, teams and groups enhance performance and achieve goals. Solution-focused Brief Coach and adult learning specialist, Dr Svea van der Hoorn highlights the significance in the growing awareness of the benefits of coaching: “There is an increase in knowledge about what coaching is and what it can and cannot deliver. Also, how coaching is similar to and different from consulting, project management, counselling and other change-oriented and people development products and services. This increasing discernment is something I think we should welcome. I am encouraged at the implications for the credibility and legitimacy with which professional coaching is viewed by clients and buyers of coaching. As their discernment increases, I’m noticing a shift from coaching being evaluated only in terms of client satisfaction – the ‘feel better’ factor; to coaching also being evaluated in terms of the benefits created and contributions made by coached clients in their workplaces and in their lives. This is helping to position professional coaching as a service that contributes to societal and economic transformation.”
As in all other fields at this time, new technologies are constantly changing things and this is opening up new opportunities for coaches. Leadership and Executive Coach, Sharon Jansen points out: “The delivery of coaching services using virtual platforms is on the increase. The challenges seem to be the dependability of the current platforms, as well as line speed here in South Africa. With the move to fibre and, thus improved face to face communication via technology, I see distance coaching becoming more and more accepted. Many of the South African corporates who are extending their reach into Africa, and other parts of the world are asking coaches to deliver their services in a cost effective way in the different geographical areas where they are operating, and there are a few reliable platforms emerging at this time that can help coaches meet this demand.” While the future is largely unpredictable, one certainty is that technology will continue to change and shape our lives and the ways in which we work. Professional coaches will constantly need to keep pace with the changes and challenges of our world to stay relevant and useful to their target markets.
Another emerging trend that is likely to continue into the future is the specialisation of coaches. Coaching is frequently a ‘second career’, and many come to the profession with significant experience that they now want to share. Globally, and in South Africa, this has led to new innovations in the field as qualified coaches carve out career niches because they have particular expertise, experience and interest in coaching people facing specific challenges. “Most coaches I know are in the profession because it is not just a career, but a vocation.” says Executive Coach, George Phipps, “I think it is essential for the coach to choose their areas of specialization and use all their experience, education and skills to support their clients in their chosen field of practice. Most people who want to work with a coach are looking for coaches with a specific skill set to best support them. For example, someone struggling with a weight problem might best benefit from working with a nutrition coach or a wellness coach, whereas a new CEO of a technology company might best be supported by a leadership or business coach with a different skill set.”
The result of this diversification is that both the perception and the practice of coaching have moved away from the exclusivity and elitism of just serving high performance athletes and business executives, which is an encouraging direction for those interested in coaching as a career. With a growing body of scientific research attesting to the benefits and effectiveness of coaching in ever more fields, it is becoming more evident that being coached can be an advantage, and be relevant to a wide variety of human endeavour. Coaching is heading into a future where it will become common for any person wanting to change behaviour, get additional support during a life-changing time or to reach a personal goal to seek out a coach with the specialist expertise that they need.
According to Svea, the rise of coaching can make a real impact on the country in the following way: “Coaching by definition is looking towards what people truly want, rather than providing explanations for how or why people find themselves where they are. It encourages people to build solutions to achieve the better futures they desire, rather than trying to only solve problems. This forward-looking, design-thinking way of navigating everyday life and business, encourages the valuing of all ideas, efforts and activities which are focused on where we are heading. South African society continues in its journey to recover what we are known for – Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a wonderful concept; it is not as easy to consistently demonstrate or cultivate it in your workplaces and relationships. Coaching provides a way because of its focus on partnering, co-creation, and a keen respect for how diversity contributes to social fabric and business success.”
With the demand for coaches on the rise, far more options for coaching education are now available in the country. As the coaching field becomes more competitive, those wanting to enter the profession are becoming increasingly discerning about the coaching education they invest in. It is important for aspiring coaches to train with credible providers, who offer accredited training. Both private, coach-specific institutions and universities offer coaching courses.
SACAP (The South African College of Applied Psychology) prides itself on being a provider who is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training and whose qualifications are accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). SACAP’s Graduate School of Coaching & Leadership offers a Postgraduate Diploma in Coaching (NQF Level 8), which along with the School’s other coaching courses, also meets the requirements of the International Coach Federation (ICF), and of Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA).