Insights From SXSW 2023 Wellness Expo: What Coaches Need To Know
By Noelle Cordeaux, CEO of Lumia Coaching
I recently returned from a potent week at the SXSW Wellness Expo, an annual gathering that brings industry stakeholders together to discuss emerging trends, network, and participate in discovery-based learning.
Several themes stood out to me as directly relevant to the work of coaching, and I’ll run through those highlights below. But what strikes me most profoundly is that each and every one of them is underscored by a larger, overarching theme:
Business as usual isn’t working.
Old structures and outmoded ways of doing business are floundering. The social fabric is fraying. People are hurting, and we’ve lost trust in those who would lead us.
What this all adds up to is a pretty tall order. We are being called upon as a society to rethink systems, organizations, and culture from the ground up.
Such an effort needs to be intentional, defined publicly, and demonstrated by leaders across all sectors and spheres of the human experience. It includes greater thoughtfulness about who we are, how we act, and how we treat one another.
This call towards a shift in culture mirrors the journey of the individual coaching client.
In a coaching relationship, our client must define their values, demonstrate how they are going to act, and continuously evaluate how they treat themselves and the other people in their lives. At every step in the process, the work of coaching asks our clients to be deliberate about how they show up, define their purpose, and build a meaningful life.
This admittedly sounds lofty. But what coaching does is help to break down that process into tangible, realistic steps that anyone can undertake. This is why coaching is effective. You not only get a roadmap of your values and goals, but you also have accountability to transform them from ideas into action.
So too with society.
When you think about it, groups of humans aren’t that different from individual people. Organizations, groups, and nations all have a unique identity. A purpose. Values, hopes, and dreams. They also have limiting beliefs, hangups, and areas for growth.
These are all areas where the tools of coaching come into play.
Coaches are on the front lines of the culture building movement. We are helping reshape society through the lens of curiosity and empathy. From corporate boardrooms to community centers, the frameworks and methodologies of coaching are needed.
How Credentialed Coaches Fit In
So how does this work of culture-building translate into viable pathways to employment for coaches? Here’s a few of my takeaways from SXSW on that front.
1. Career skill-building certificates are valuable currency
Nationwide, we have a problem. The skills of today’s workforce are not keeping pace with innovations that are taking place within industry.
It’s predicted that by 2030, 60% of all jobs will require education beyond a high school diploma. Contrast that with the fact that only 35% of the population holds a college degree.
A four-year degree cannot be the only path to a bright future and higher paying jobs. (And even if you have one, it’s no guarantee.)
So what’s the solution?
What employers now recognize is that skill-building certificates offer a targeted response to their workforce challenges. Google has modeled the viability of this approach with its Career Certificates, and coach certification programs aren’t far behind.
Just one example of this is coming out of the State of Texas.
At SXSW, I learned that Texas has begun to partner with professional certificate programs like ICF accredited coach training programs to help upskill their population to meet the job opportunities of the future.
Coaching is one of the only disciplines outside of technology where folks can get an in-demand professional credential without a degree. In the coaching profession people can move from baseline to mastery, and go on to work at very high levels with just a certification.
This leads to the next insight, which helps to explain WHY coaching is becoming such a hot commodity in the eyes of employers.
2. The workforce is in crisis - and coaching is the answer
What was echoed over and over at SXSW is that our workforce is at a point of emotional and spiritual crisis, and it’s multi-generational. The numbers tell a clear story, and are truly staggering:
- 50 million people left their jobs in great resignation (and counting)
- 53% of employees report that they are disengaged
- 50% of managers don’t know what’s expected of them
- 69% of all employees feel they are not living up to their capacity
- 90% feel there is no accountability at work
The research on this is clear. People don’t leave companies, they leave bad managers. With that in mind, many of the symptoms mentioned above point to a single root cause: poor communication.
Coach training helps tackle these problems directly. How? By teaching human beings how to talk to other people more effectively.
Productive dialogue creates a culture of trust and safety– one where sharing ideas, providing feedback, making mistakes, and asking for help are possible. When we introduce these tools inside organizations, engagement increases. Employees have clear lines of sight between goals and action.
Satisfaction goes up, more good work gets done, and the profits follow.
Three fundamental skills of coaching in particular help to produce this result:
- A coaching mindset
- Active listening
- The art of questioning
This isn’t theoretical, it’s proven.
Ford used a coaching model 10 years ago to turn around a sinking ship, and it worked. They now stand as a powerful example of what attending to people first can do for company culture, not to mention the bottom line.
(This is the #1 thing you will get from your investment in coach training, by the way. It’s a complete reboot on how to have productive conversations. Not just at work, but across every dimension of your life.)
3. There aren’t enough credentialed coaches to meet emerging needs
The final thing I was struck by during my time at SXSW was the urgency around these issues. The needs are clear, but right now there aren’t enough credentialed coaches to meet the wave that’s coming.
My friends, there are currently only 50,000 ICF-credentialed coaches worldwide. With more than 7.8 billion people on this planet, that’s nowhere near enough.
So if you’re ready to join those ranks and ride this incoming tide of possibility, here’s what you need to know.
For Internal Coaching Positions Inside Businesses
When hiring, many companies are screening candidates for an ICF coaching credential. It represents the next level of professionalism and experience as a coach, and will make you more competitive for those roles.
To learn more this, along with information about internal coaching opportunities, take a look at these resources:
- Internal Coaching: Employment Opportunities Within Businesses and Organizations
- How To Build A Coaching Culture At Work
- ICF Credentialing, Explained
For 1:1 Coaching with Individuals
Private clients are paying more attention to training and qualifications as well. A recent consumer study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers stated that nearly eight in 10 respondents felt it was important for their coach to hold a certification or credential.
To understand your training options and how to choose the best course for you, here’s some additional information that can help:
- What Certification Do You Need to Be a Life Coach?
- 7 Things To Look For In A Life Coach Training Program
- Careers in Life Coaching: Exploring Options & Opportunities
What Comes Next, And How You Fit In
The shifts in cultural perception that we are witnessing in these times are seismic. It reminds me of the shifting of tectonic plates. These ruptures in consciousness are creating a new landscape; mountains and chasms are being created.
If the world feels increasingly chaotic, that’s because it is.
In coaching and in life it is important to honor chaos. Coaching tells us that the only thing that we can count on in life is constant adaptation.
We need coaches now more than ever because everyone needs help with this process of adaptation and change. Businesses. Individuals. Communities. Government agencies. Families. School systems. Friend groups. Religious institutions. Nonprofits. Neighborhood associations. Social organizations.
Shifting the culture is the work of our lifetime. It’s also not something we can do alone. At Lumia, we believe that each one of us radiates our own unique point of light – and that together we can move mountains.
Thank you for the light you carry. It matters.
Ready to Get Coaching?
Here at Lumia, we offer evidence-based, science backed coach training that provides a point of entry into both of these coaching career pathways. In as little as 10 weeks, you can get certified as a coach on our Essentials Expedited Track. And if you’ve got your eye on an ICF credential, our Signature program will set you up for success on that journey.
Want to learn more? Grab a snack and tune in for this 45 minute, on-demand info session with our Admissions Team. Find out if coaching offers the freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment that you’ve been searching for!