Executive Coaching 2022: Future Trends - International Coaching Federation
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Executive Coaching 2022: Future Trends

Posted by Brian O. Underhill, Ph.D., PCC | February 27, 2018 | Comments (20)

What will be the most likely trends in the executive coaching industry in 2020–2022?  Will accreditation be mandatory?  Will coaching fees decrease?  Will robots replace coaches?

The industry-wide research study Executive Coaching for Results surveyed nearly 1,000 organization coaching practice managers, internal coaches and external coaches on a variety of topics.  Participants were asked, “How likely are the following trends in the executive coaching industry in the next three to five years?”

brian underhill research chart

All respondents agreed that Leadership development programs with additional coaching will be the most likely ensuing trend over the next few of years. This matches my own experience. I see more organizations designing coaching into existing leadership development programs.

On average, Leader-as-coach training (training leaders in organizations on coaching skills) was the second most likely trend. Third was Team coaching—coaching all members of the entire team and/or developing that team as a team.

Artificial intelligence will eventually replace human coaches was seen as the least likely future trend (38 percent), with a predicted commoditization of coaching fees rated as slightly more likely (55-57 percent of respondents).

There are some major differences between the three respondent groups.  As a few examples:

  • Coaching for millennial leaders was seen as much more likely among external coaches (85 percent) and internal coaches (82 percent) than among organization practice managers (71 percent)
  • Internal coaching was favored more by internal coaches (No. 3, 84 percent) than by organization practice managers (No. 8, 72 percent)
  • Ranked No. 4 by organization practice managers, Organizations centralize/streamline executive coaching under fewer vendors, contrasts with seventh place rankings from internal and external coaches

Executive Coaching for Results is in its third iteration and was also administered in 2005 and 2013. Internal coaching made a notable increase for organization practice managers from 59 percent in 2013 to 72 percent in the most recent study. External executive coaching increasing gained slightly among organization practice managers from 77 percent in 2013 to 80 percent. Coaching fees will decrease (become a commodity) is viewed as less likely now than in 2013 (57 percent and 27 percent, respectively). Other trends can’t be compared due to changes in study questions.

Perhaps most encouraging trend for the industry that has emerged from this study is that the use of coaching, in all its various forms (e.g., group coaching, team coaching, internal coaching, etc.), is generally predicted to increase over the next five years.


© CoachSource, LLC

brian underhill headshot

Brian O. Underhill, Ph.D., PCC

Brian O. Underhill, Ph.D., PCC, is the founder and CEO of CoachSource, the world’s largest executive coaching firmwith over 1,100 coaches in 100+ countries worldwide, and the co-author of Executive Coaching for Results: The Definitive Guide to Developing Organizational Leaders.  Brian previously spent 10 years managing executive coaching operations for Marshall Goldsmith.  Some of his clients include Dell, Microsoft, Genentech and the State of California.  He holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology, a PCC, and is an internationally sought-after keynote speaker, addressing leaders, HR managers and coaches across six continents.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

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Comments (20)

  1. grace@heatandheart.com.au says:

    Very interesting article and would love to be able to get the full report through a discount for ICF members.

    I was mulling over one statistic mentioned and wondered if it is back to front.

    “Coaching fees will decrease (become a commodity) is viewed as less likely now than in 2013 (57 percent and 27 percent, respectively). Other trends can’t be compared due to changes in study questions.”

    Does this not mean that it is more likely now (at 57 percent) than in 2013 (at 27 percent) that coaching fees will decrease?
    Seeking clarification.

  2. It’s interesting how you said that executive coaches will eventually lead more leadership development programs. This seems like a pretty cool thing because it would probably help there to be a bit more interaction with them when they train. That way you get a little more bang for your buck.

  3. David says:

    Brian O. Underhill, Thanks for the insightful post.

  4. Samantha says:

    Isn’t Marshall Goldman bigger than Coach source by a couple thousand?

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for your comment Samantha. I believe you mean Marshall Goldsmith. His organization is separate from CoachSource and each has a different focus. However, there are linkages between them; for example, Brian Underhill worked for Marshall Goldsmith’s organization prior to founding CoachSource. And Brian and Marshall (along with Jonathan Passmore) recently came out with a new book in 2019 entitled Mastering Executive Coaching.

  5. Wonderful post! We are linking to this great post on our website.
    Keep up the great writing.

  6. James Borst says:

    It is interesting that learning how to coach is the second most likely popular trend in the next few years. My wife’s boss frequently invites executive coaches into her office for evaluations of how her boss’s coaching practices. If I were an executive, I’d consider reaching out to a coach for recommendations.

  7. Jen says:

    I am curious how these trends spread out over countries or geographical regions.

  8. Thank you for sharing your Ideas, it really helps me a lot. Continue blogging and keep on doing your passion.

  9. susans@sadlercomm.com says:

    Thanks for this post. Are you able to share what was the sample size of respondents? Thank you!

  10. Thanks for the great and insightful article. I found it while researching current challenges leadership coaches and executive coaches face and came away with some helpful information. As I ghostwrite for coaches, this type of in-the-trenches information helps me a lot in creating articles, LinkedIn posts, and more. I appreciate the time and effort you put into this work. Thanks again!

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    I have read many posts over internet about business keynote motivational speaker but I just love your post. Thanks for sharing such a great post with us.

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  18. It’s interesting to think that coaches will start leading more leadership programs. This could be cool because it means you’d get more interaction during training, making it a better deal. I have been working with http://www.radicalresults.org for last 2 years and have been really fascinated by the every aspect of the coaching world. Really enjoyed reading this article and looking for more such articles. Thank you very much.

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