The State of the Executive Coaching Industry

The State of the Executive Coaching Industry

Heads up executive coaches, it’s time for a perspective bomb.

Just as we’re occasionally asked for our perspective on the current state of a client’s industry, I’ve recently turned that lens on our own profession. What I’ve observed should be of great interest to you.

(Even if you’re not a coaching industry professional, you may find this post interesting as it pertains to your options for leadership development of yourself and others in your organization.)

Influential Factors

Every industry goes through what I think of as a three-stage cycle of fragmentation-consolidation-refragmentation. I’ve never paused to consider where the coaching industry resides within this cycle. Until recently.

Here are four factors making an impact on our industry.

  1. Market consolidation – Larger coaching organizations are purchasing their competitors and tapping new forms of capital and investments to grow.
  2. Extension of reach – Coaching organizations and individual coaches are extending their reach. They are expanding into markets like Asia, the Pacific Rim, and South America.
  3. Movement beyond the C-suite – Coaching (in various forms) is now available for folks beyond the business owner, CEO, and C-suite executives. Some organizations are even attempting to “democratize” coaching by enlisting companies to provide their services to all employees.
  4. Digitization/Coaching as a Service (CaaS) / Platform-izing – Whenever an industry goes through shift-points, opportunities are created. In the modern era, that means money pours in, and bright-eyed entrepreneurs create new businesses. That is exactly what’s happening right now.

When I look at these four factors through the lens of my fragmentation-consolidation-refragmentation cycle theory, I believe the coaching industry is currently in the early phases of consolidation.

What Does It Mean?

As I’ve said many times before, my crystal ball is a bit murky. Nonetheless, here are a few of my takeaways.

  1. I truly believe that — in this instance — a rising tide does lift all boats. As more folks become aware of the benefits of coaching, more opportunities will likely present themselves to you (provided you’re at least half-decent at your job).
  1. This rising tide will make clients more particular about choosing coaches. This will likely play out in a variety of ways. Some clients will feel more comfortable with well-established brands like Vistage, while others will look for very specific credentials.
  1. There will be wild successes — and the occasional misfire. This is a period when clients and coaches need to beware the hype. If it sounds too good to be true then it likely is. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember that we are now entering the coaching equivalent of the late 90s dot-com boom. “Everyone” thinks they have a unique take on the industry, and they all think they can scale. Some actually may. Just remember that whatever you do, don’t buy into the coaching equivalent of Pets.com.

Advice for My Fellow Coaches

If you’re a good coach that provides bespoke services, this coming era can be a period of great potential bounty and opportunity for you. But only if you do one thing:

Figure out what makes your offerings special. Then lean into it. HARD.

It’s time to embrace what you’ve heard Boomers express disdain for in younger folks over the past 20 years.

Be special. Be you. Embrace your uniqueness and become the ultimate version of yourself.

If you’re a coach who works best when you take clients for walks, then be the walking coach. If you’re the hard-nosed former manufacturing executive who knows how to kick ass and get a product out the door, then be that coach. The point is, be the best you that you can be.

If you become a true specialist, you’ll attract the people you want to serve. And they’ll tell their colleagues. And pretty soon, you’ll have your very own tribe.

Interested in becoming part of my tribe? Give me a call or drop me a line. I’d love to see how we might work together.


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