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The State of Career Coaching: Coaches Navigating the Fear of the Unknown
(This podcast was put together with insights from the ICF Career Coaching Community Practice video discussion with Jim Wylde, Hemalakshmi Raju, and Elena Giorgetti.)
Understanding Career Coaching in Today's Context
Career coaching, like all forms of coaching, focuses on the client and not just the problem. However, in this case the emphasis on professional, work-related development.
The current landscape has clearly shown a significant shift in how people view their careers and what importance work holds in the priorities of a life well lived. Many people are making big changes, such as relocating to another country, while some are simplifying their work routine. Plus, there’s also been a noticeable shift from focusing on what’s good for the individual, to what impacts everyone – a more collective way of thinking about flourishing.
Career and personal identity are deeply intertwined for so many of us, so much so that our coaching clients often can't distinguish between the two. For many of us – what we do is almost the same thing as who we are! With that in mind, a career transition isn't just about a job change – it's about navigating the different emotional complexities associated with identity.
Career coaches today need to have the skills and abilities to dig into some very real identity work and also be a support for clients undergoing all the usual blockers – fear, confidence, uncertainty – as they navigate change.
What is Identity Work in Career Coaching?
As a coach, you may be more familiar with identity work within the confines of relationship coaching. However, it definitely plays a big role in the work of career coaching as well! But, what exactly does identity work involve?
- Asking powerful questions: The core of identity work is about helping a client understand who they are – thus, much of it is posing powerful questions such as "Who will you become?" and "What is your purpose?"
- Utilizing tools and techniques: Commonly used tools for helping clients begin to uncover their strengths and abilities in order to effectively use them in the workplace include DISC, Strengthsfinder, Hogan, Korn Ferry, and the VIA Character Assessment.
- Visualizing the Future: Techniques such as the 5D framework from Appreciative Inquiry and exercises like 'Best Possible Future Self' help clients create a positive vision for their future.
For coaches looking to add skills to their toolbox, courses like Google's Search Inside Yourself come highly recommended.
The Biggest Challenges in the Career Coaching Landscape
One primary challenge coaches face is the prevalent fear of change and uncertainty, especially in a world as complex as the one we live in. We’ve lived through challenging times – a global pandemic, social unrest, political upheaval, economic uncertainty – all moments in time that can knock even the most grounded person off balance.
Coaches also need to understand generational and life stage differences. For instance, there's a noticeable gap between peer expectations and real-world experiences for younger generations such as Millenials and Gen Z. Older generations had different opportunities and challenges, and these assumptions, expectations and directives can often come into stark contrast.
The introduction of virtual tools such as video chat and texting can lead to misunderstandings about tone and intent, often making challenging communication even more challenging!
Career coaches aim to help clients find calm amidst this chaos, emphasizing the importance of self care, strong community, an ongoing mindfulness practice and a robust health and wellness practice.
Some real world feedback from career coaches who are working with clients in the field today:
- Many clients are grappling with uncertainty, seeking comfort in ambiguity and multiple career paths.
- Younger generations face anxiety, often fueled by social media-induced inadequacy feelings.
- A growing niche for private clients is leadership-level career coaching, focusing on effective communication and feedback mechanisms.
Emerging Trends in Career Coaching in 2024
Reframing Perspectives: A core aspect of career coaching is helping clients see the future as a realm of choices, opportunities and diverging pathways. Despite a perceived scarcity, especially in tech, coaches are in the expansion business – encouraging clients to think larger, dream bigger and explore their options.
Positive Psychology: Positive Psychology offers a plethora of tools that can help clients become aware of their strengths and achieve their goals joyfully. For instance, Yale's The Science of Well Being is often recommended. However, coaches also face challenges like clients wanting immediate results versus the need for exploration.
Coaching Leaders vs. Employees: There's a rising demand for team coaching, emphasizing the collective over the individual. This also indicates a future where coaching skills are normalized throughout an organization.
Organizational Shifts: Careers have evolved to be non-linear, with remote work, changing skill sets, and the need for coaching across all organizational levels.
Academia and Higher Education: Universities are undergoing significant change. Career coaches help students supplement their academic knowledge with soft skills. Given the rise of AI, human skills like empathy, compassion, and critical thinking are gaining prominence.
As the lines between personal and professional identities get even more blurry, career coaches play a pivotal role in helping individuals find clarity, purpose, and fulfillment.
It's crucial to acknowledge that feelings aren't facts! The feelings of fear and uncertainty that surround the career conversation are real, and important, but they aren’t the whole story. Coaches can help bridge the gap between passion and security as their clients seek out a career that fulfills them and aligns with their identity.
The work of the career coach is all about navigating the known, the unknown, and the nuances in between.
Ready to Become a Career Coach?
A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. We train and certify coaches, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love and transform lives, on your terms. If you're ready to learn more about how to become a life coach, check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our International Coach Federation accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.
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