The $2.35 billion coaching industry comprises of approximately 53,300 practitioners worldwide who are actively asking questions and debating dilemmas that characterize maturity. 3,700 of the above-mentioned coach population is from Asia, of which a large population is from India and China. Individuals seeking fast growth, quick transitions and meaningful roles are also asking deeper questions – of purpose, impact and satisfaction. Complexity of business and pressures of everyday cosmopolitan life requires each individual to accomplish more with less, stretch resources further and think differently to adapt constantly. Coaching has emerged as a preferred choice to find answers for themselves and move forward with purpose and awareness.
In India, in the recent past, there is immense interest in “coaching” as a process and profession. Leaders, HR, L&D Professionals, Students, executives, homemakers are talking about the phenomena. The Indian coaching industry is booming and becoming a large market for local players as well as international coaching organizations that are looking at India with great interest.
As more and more coaches are developing at a local level, the influx of internationally mobile coaches is highlighting a gap in the depth of coaching capabilities in homegrown coaches. While US, Europe and Australia are highly mature markets; Asia including India is still in its nascent stages of experimenting with Coaching.
So what really propels a booming profession into maturity? In order for India or Asia to move towards a maturity stage, there are some success factors, which are necessary to be present in all these countries.
- Ethics – This we believe is the biggest factor responsible for creating maturity in any market. As of now Ethics in Coaching in India is non-existent. Neither the Coach nor the client/organization is aware of what is an ethical behavior in coaching. The ICF chapters have started talking about awareness around ethics (for both coach and clients) and creating some sort of ethics body in India. That I believe is a good start to the process but will require sustained activity and collaboration from both the coaches and the clients.
- Clients becoming aware of the coaching process: This is the second big step that needs to happen. As of today the clients have no idea of how a typical coaching is done. The coaching mandate comes from the organization and while the coach explains how the process will work, the client has no other benchmark to know what the right coaching process looks like. The organizations need to invest in awareness sessions around coaching for their employees who are planning to go through a coaching session. Maybe a typical coaching recording of 30-45 minutes can be made as a requirement before anybody starts a coaching journey. The recording can also talk about some piece of ethics and other hygiene factors to keep in mind while being coached.
- Benchmarking: The biggest challenge any new service faces is with respect to what is the typical price range for the service. It is important both for the buyer of the service as well as the seller of the service to have some basic benchmarks which can help both sides in coming to quick decisions. The Indian coaching industry will have to do research and publish the typical benchmarks across industry domains and coaching types for supporting the industry to grow. These studies can be done yearly and published.
- Body of Knowledge: This is one area, which India needs to take a lead on and not just from an Indian perspective but also for the local coaches to be known globally. They have to invest in creating new concepts, thought processes, standards, etc. around coaching and publish it for the world. India has so much to offer from the large spiritual base and deep roots that we come from. Collaborating to create new products and concepts is the big step towards maturity of the market.
- Respect for fellow coaches: This looks like a totally different factor from what we have stated above. The importance of this factor cannot be emphasized enough. If India can create and sustain coaches with deep respect for each other, the other four factors above would be easy to do. They will become an outcome of just this simple act of respecting each other. While as a coach, we showcase deep respect towards our clients, think of what will happen if we can showcase the same respect towards the fellow travelers.
- Community of coaches: Managed coaching communities that self-regulate and deliver on pre-determined standards of ethics and quality of experience are the next stage. Openly sharing information, publishing standards of efficacy or performance and demonstrating the confidence to welcome audit, scrutiny or challenge is indicative of a collective consciousness that values credibility and client interests. Shared accountability and standards perpetuated by a community often provide speedy impetus
- Platforms: Success begets success. Creating platforms that showcase new ideas, recognize superior performance and celebrate successes foster an industry environment that redefines the bar every year. Such platforms not only act as a launchpad for new methods but also nurture pride and encourage creation, constantly nudging the industry towards maturity.
Maturity of the profession is closely linked to the maturity of the professionals. As coaches yearn to be surrounded by like-minded and competent fellows, a sense of camaraderie and collective accountability is likely to deliver greater value to clients. How soon, is a question that is best answered sooner by responsible citizenship than later by business need.