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Sai Blackbyrn

.Coach LLC

CEO and Head Coach

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COVID-19: What are the opportunities for coaches?


The sheer uncertainty of what lies ahead, coupled with the need to rapidly employ a new set of skills to help drive the business forward has presented what has been described by some as a golden opportunity for coaches


The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on organisations across the globe is evident wherever you look and despite some green shoots of recovery as the economy reopens for business, there is no denying that most are emerging battered, bruised and a mere shadow of their former selves. Leaders are now battling to deal with a unique set of circumstances, many for the first time in their professional careers. The sheer uncertainty of what lies ahead, coupled with the need to rapidly employ a new set of skills to help drive the business forward has presented what has been described by some as a golden opportunity for coaches. What was once seen as a luxury investment for an organisation has now become a necessity, with coaches perfectly primed to help fill the gaping holes that COVID-19 has left in its wake. 

Calling in the troubleshooters

With remote working now becoming the norm for a record number of organisations, there are many challenges which have resulted from switching so rapidly to this very different way of working. From having the right IT infrastructures in place to facilitate remote teams, to maintaining necessary information flows between employees and keeping staff engaged, leaders are now being faced with what can feel like an insurmountable challenge. 

Questions such as;

  • How can I motivate people I can’t see? 
  • How can I read between the lines and pick up on the little issues before they develop into bigger problems?
  •  How can I ensure my team is working efficiently and productively behind closed doors?

These questions and more are being faced by leaders on a daily basis, often with no clear answers in sight.  In PwC’s COVID-19: Impacts to business report, it revealed that the six key areas that organisations needed to focus right now were crisis management & response, workforce, operations & supply chain, finance & liquidity, tax, trade & regulatory issues, and strategy & branding. 

If this wasn’t enough to deal with, a failure to take action could be even more damaging to the reputation of the organisation, particularly if leaders fail to behave appropriately or empathetically when it comes to managing individual staff needs as a direct result of COVID-19. 

External coaches who specialise in motivating remote teams, implementing new working cultures, or facilitating team buy-in during periods of change are likely to be in high demand at this time, as leaders race to create a solid and workable action plan for the future that keeps staff happy, engaged, productive and loyal. As stated in the Astra Zeneca Effectively Leading Through COVID-19 Leader’s Toolkit, ‘The meaning of work, our relationship to it and our relationship with our employer, all may have changed. Your ability to demonstrate empathy, compassion, a willingness to be vulnerable, learning agility and adaptiveness will help you to thrive in a more human-centric workplace’.

Behind closed doors

Whilst there will be some organisations where outside help will be actively encouraged and welcomed, there are still a significant number that include a Board who are relying on their leaders to get them out of this coronavirus induced mess. These leaders will really be feeling the pressure, as the decisions they make now could have lasting consequences for their reputation and future career path. For these individuals, seeking out an executive coach who can work with them on a discrete, one to one basis will be essential in helping them build on their confidence, skills and leadership abilities. They are unlikely to disclose to anyone in the business that they have employed the services of a coach, let alone the Board, but they will be more than happy to invest their own money in someone who can help them to come out on top during one of the biggest challenges they are likely to face in their career. 

Digital transformation

Many coaching programmes were traditionally delivered on-site, with some online coaching built in to allow for flexibility or as a supporting service. However, many organisations will now need the vast majority of support, training and coaching to be delivered remotely to meet the new needs of working through COVID-19. With teams now widely dispersed and social distancing likely to be with us for some considerable time, online coaching, training and development programmes are going to be in high demand. Naturally, those coaches who have already developed and executed online programmes are going to be the ones that organisations are keen to engage with. For these coaches, being ahead of the curve is going to prove their greatest asset, with the cost of delivery being significantly lower than traditional face to face programmes. They will also be much easier to scale up too. In fact, we’ve seen many of the coaches at grow their businesses exponentially during the pandemic thanks to their ability to deliver entire programmes remotely. 

In summary, the long term impact of COVID-19 on businesses is yet to be seen, and navigating a business through any kind of change is alway challenging but never more so than when the road ahead is winding. Businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors need to realise that they simply can’t do this all on their own and their best bet lies with the army of external coaches who can provide highly specialised support across areas which are absolutely critical to business survival right now. Coaches from all disciplines need to be aware of this and adjust their offering accordingly, prioritising digital delivery and refining their messaging to show just how valuable they can be in the fight to bounce back from coronavirus. 

Author Profile Picture
Sai Blackbyrn

CEO and Head Coach

Read more from Sai Blackbyrn

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