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Coronavirus has made us question who we are, how we live and why we go to work. If you are reassessing your priorities as we look ahead, then you are not alone. A recent report from the job site Adzuna shows a quarter of UK workers are thinking about switching careers in 2021. So, if you are wondering if a career change into coaching is the right move for you, ask yourself these three questions first.
What do I want from my career?
What is motivating you to consider a switch to coaching? Is it the opportunity to help others or is it the desire to be self-employed? What frustrations or limitations do you want to leave behind? What is your why?
If you want to help others, then you are in good company. A recent survey from Aviva found that two million workers in the UK share the same goal. Personal values and purpose are defining who we are more than ever and influencing the type of work we want to do.
Those drawn to coaching are typically looking for more meaning in what they do. Its appeal often transcends your working identity as it becomes a way of being. As Kate Hunter, an AoEC graduate explains about her choice of coach training: “… the one differentiating factor for me was that one of the fundamental questions that gets explored within the programme is: Who am I? And Who am I as a coach? This was spot on for what I needed! Especially as I was already starting to think about my brand for my own business.”
You also need to ask yourself if you are prepared for what further transformation might come with a career leap. Embarking on a new career can bring unseen changes with the best laid plans shifting as Kate found: “Before I started on my diploma, I was all ready to set up a business that mainly fitted the corporate appeal of an L&D/coaching company. The epiphany for me has been that this does not light me up! This will not equal fulfilment for me and I need to stop doing what I think I should do, the sensible route, and do what fills my heart and soul.”
Even if you don’t want to change careers, investing in developing professional coaching skills brings enormous value to your role as leader, manager, or HR director. Not only are they highly transferable, but these skills can help boost your job satisfaction while enhancing your working relationships and the way you manage others. A coaching approach comes with many unseen benefits which will serve you well in your current role or further down the line if you are actively building a portfolio career. As Jimmy Paul who trained with AoEC Scotland said: “My reason for doing the diploma was not to become a full-time executive coach, but to learn skills that would benefit me in all walks of life.”
What is the outlook for the coaching industry?
Data collected by one of the sector’s largest professional bodies, the International Coaching Federation (ICF), showed that many coach practitioners experienced some combination of income and employment effects during the pandemic. However, the majority were cautiously optimistic that coaching will emerge stronger from the pandemic. Looking ahead the risk of a global recession represents the biggest obstacle, while the second biggest threat is untrained individuals calling themselves coaches.
This issue has dogged the industry since coaching became more widely used. Despite employing nearly 50,000 coaches worldwide and having an estimated global total revenue of $2.849billion, coaching is still not subjected to the regulatory scrutiny of professional associations or a governmental body, so remains largely unregulated when compared to other ‘helping’ professions such as medicine, nursing, or counselling.
The sector’s leading professional bodies – the ICF, Association for Coaching (AC) and European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) have though endeavoured to professionalise standards with competency and ethical guidelines. To highlight best practice, it is expected that those entering the profession undertake accredited coach training with a credentialed provider, to invest in ongoing personal development, use supervision and to follow the codes of conduct set by them in running a coaching practice.
What financial and practical support is available?
Some coach training will be self-funded but coaching skills are being increasingly recognised by employers and many will fund this through their L&D or leadership development budgets. For those wanting to be their own boss, the initial outlay can be high, but a good quality, internationally recognised professional qualification will soon pay for itself from client work.
Other funding is available through industry grants or schemes such as the National Skills Fund which is part of the government’s Lifetimes Skills Guarantee to support adult learners. Many education providers also offer free open events and different tiers of learning, so a foundation programme will give you a good indication if this is right for you.
In terms of setting up your business and running it, practical advice on things like accountancy, marketing and insurance requirements is available via organisations such as Enterprise Nation, the Federation of Small Businesses and Business Gateway. Business coaches are also an effective way of helping you make sense of where you want to take your brand. You will also find that your coach training cohort will be invaluable when it comes to growing your network. The coaching community is generous in spirit and you will find many eager to give you the benefit of their experience and wisdom.
Even though 2020 is a year most would prefer to forget, it has given us the chance to slow down, reflect and take stock of what matters and where we are in our personal and professional lives. Despite all the continued upheaval and uncertainty, 2021 offers new possibilities to reset those aspects of our lives that don’t fulfil us and is proof that something positive and good can come from life events like those we have just lived through.
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