Perennial Coaching

1st June, 2024 6 min read

Coaching resources top our list of most popular titles month after month, year after year. Coaching is not going away. So why’s it so popular and what lies ahead for this perennial training topic?

Coaching is here to stay. It never falls out of favour. I can remember working on a video programme called Coaching Skills back in the 1990s and interest in the topic has not wavered since. It’s as popular today as it ever was, and coaching continues to be the mainstay of management development programmes throughout the world. In 2023 our video, ‘What is Coaching?’ took the top spot whilst our programme ‘Coaching: The Power of Questions’ came a close second.

There’s an insatiable thirst for new coaching resources, too. Indeed, this month, I’ve just completed work on a creating a new interactive Skills Challenge activity called ‘Good Question’, which tests learners’ skills in understanding how to use questioning skills in a range of work scenarios including, of course, coaching.

As we approach the half-way point in 2024, our resource ‘Coaching: The Power of Questions’ is yet again topping the charts, in pole position by a considerable margin. Demand for developing coaching skills simply does not going away.

So what makes coaching skills so important, and how is coaching provision going to change?

A hardy perennial

Other topics in learning and development come and go as fashionable fads reach their peak and fade away only to return in a new guise under a different name a few years later. But coaching is a hardy perennial, one of a handful of topics that also include change and feedback, which endure from one generation of learners to the next.

Why does it endure?

It lasts because it works. It’s one of those rare topics that brings benefits to the coach, the person being coached (I hate the word ‘coachee’!), and the organisation for which they work. It truly is a win-win-win situation.

Another of coaching’s appeal is its emotional as well as intellectual attraction. I can well remember the first time I came across the concept of management coaching. I was enthralled. Here was something that I could do to make a difference to the way people felt about themselves. (And about me!) Self-awareness and self-belief are at the core of successful coaching. Learning how to use carefully crafted questions to help someone think through a problem or task for themselves was fascinating to me. And I think it still holds that appeal for most aspiring young managers who want to do well for others as well as for themselves. Because if you’re a good coach, you achieve more and are more successful as a manager - as well as being an enabler for other people to get the best from themselves, too. And that coaching culture promotes all those other positives we need too - better working relationships, genuine communication, trust, motivation, and a commitment to achieving goals.

Culture is essential. Leadership style is contagious and the way people coach members of their own team is often directly impacted by the way they have been coached themselves. The role of the learning department therefore is to nurture that culture and provide regular insights into model coaching opportunities and frequent examples of how coaching has worked in their organisation. This is where short coaching performance support tools are so useful. Start a meeting by getting managers to do a short activity on how to give coaching feedback; ask webinar attendees to listen to a ten-minute podcast on ‘Coaching for Inclusion’ and use it to trigger a short discussion; watch a video to illustrate different types of coaching questions during a coffee break and before engaging with a member of your team; these integrated activities provide quick, timely reminders and are perfect skills energisers.

New young managers are perfect for coaching programmes. Aspiring managers who are enthusiastic about developing themselves as well as creating the best conditions for others to develop themselves, aren’t yet too set in their own ways. The hardest thing of all when coaching is not to share your own thoughts, your own solutions and your own hypotheses. Once you have many years under your belt you’ve seen a lot and there’s a huge tendency to want to give people the ‘benefit’ of your experience. It’s hard to coach well. And that’s why thoughtfully created coaching tools and workshops are so important. And why they remain so popular. It rarely comes entirely naturally to people. Coaching is a skill and just like any other skill, it needs to be learned and practised. Hence the enduring importance of coaching programmes.

Even now, in my late 50s, I can revisit resources on coaching and still usefully be reminded of how best to encourage thinking, provoke thought and encourage self-belief. It’s unendingly rewarding to do this. And even after all these years I still find it fascinating. And I can always improve!

What’s next with coaching?

Fundamentally the idea behind developing coaching skills hasn’t changed in decades. The tools have been modernised, the delivery updated and the context has changed. But the essential idea about enabling people to think through a task or problem for themselves so they develop their abilities to their full potential hasn’t. One manager and one team member come together in a coaching session. And the manager asks coaching questions to help the other person generate ideas, think them through, evaluate options and choose a way forward.

Now AI is here and beginning to change everything. Coaching is a human activity at its heart. But AI is learning fast and soon, just like Jiminy Cricket, it will be with us all the time – this time as our coaching guide rather than our conscience. Daily interventions to support our thinking, to encourage us to explore an idea, to prompt us to query something or to encourage us to review our options will be available to us all day, every day. How do we feel about an AI Coach? How supportive and reliable will it be? What about the ‘human’ connection and those other organisational benefits I referenced earlier? Well, humans are infallible too. And the AI will be as good as the information its trained on. AI will undoubtedly change the coaching landscape. And new generations of tech-comfortable managers may feel more pre-disposed to ‘talk’ with an AI coach. Clearly there are potential dangers. But there’s an enormous upside too. Imagine having a dedicated AI coach, who ‘knows’ you well, ‘notices’ when you need help, ‘understands’ what you need help with, and is ready with questions and pointers to enable you to optimise your own development.

Coaching is here to stay

Whatever transpires, coaching itself won’t go away. And nor should it. Like all essential topics in learning and development it will evolve and it will embrace AI. But the concept will remain unchanged: enabling people to be the best they can be, promoting self-awareness and inspiring self-belief. And my guess is, it will still be called ‘Coaching’. Even if your AI coach is called Jiminy.

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Catherine de Salvo
1 June 2024

You can contact Catherine at or via LinkedIn