Jobs that have the words “life coach” and “personal development coach” have had increased interest among job seekers in recent years; in the past two years alone there was a 25% increase in searches for jobs with these specific keywords. Three years ago, life coaching was the second fastest growing profession and was worth two billion globally. There are also new degrees and classes popping up for those who wish to get a diploma in areas such as “personal leadership” and “executive coaching”; the field is booming.
Though most do not apply for the job of “life coach” specifically, meaning someone who is hired to provide personal and professional development advice to clients, there is an increased desire for jobs that allow senior staff to mentor or “coach” junior members. Alan Breteon, an executive coach at Dún Laoghaire-based Kingstown College, stated “There are few companies out there … who would employ somebody who is a ‘life coach’. They’re going to be looking for somebody who is an executive or a coach in general who can deal with life situations, executive situations, conflict, team coaching”. The job of “life coach” may not be the goal for a large majority of the workforce, but the skills associated with the position are becoming vital for those in leadership roles.
A reason why these mentoring skills are now becoming so important is because of the change in management style in recent years; where before a managers orders would be obeyed without question in a militant like style, a greater value is now placed on collaboration between employees and management. It is also difficult to find employees that can fulfill the needs of a company; once a good candidate is found, the company must compete to keep them happy or they will leave to find another job that shares the same values they do.
Alan Brereton summarized this new phenomenon saying, “If another company is offering a workplace environment that is more attractive for (employees) in how they like to work … how they are involved in decision making especially in their own work, they’re going to drift towards those companies… the staff just aren’t there; they can’t be found. You need to look after your people … because there are no others out there to really fill that role…coaching has taken on a really important part in that kind of staff retention challenge. It’s really about getting a buy-in from the staff in that organisation…coaching is part of a bigger picture, and the bigger picture is employee engagement, employee retention and workplace well-being.”
Life coaching skills will not only help people get ahead in the workplace, they will also improve employee retention and the overall well being of the work environment. A few places, like LEAP Coaching in Cork City, even offer specific coaching for people who want to improve their management skills.
The website asks a number of questions to help people decide if they want to give coaching a try. They are questions like “do you want to be ready to challenge for positions a level up, increase your self-awareness and emotional intelligence so that you can understand others better, and enhance your influencing, communication, and motivational skills, develop your capacity to coach your team, identify what behaviours are working in your favour, what behaviours to let go – and what new behaviours will help you be even more successful, get past a fear of networking and connect with and influence people in an authentic way, identify a management style that works for you – and for the people, you are managing,think about your personal brand – does it reflect who you are – and who you want to become?” They also offer career, executive, and life coaching so there is plenty to choose from for all the different areas in life.
University College Cork also has a personal and management coaching course that will train graduates to coach in diverse settings such as Business, Human Resource, Leadership Development, Training, Education, Management, Life Balance, Personal Coaching, Health Care, Social Care, Career Coaching, Sports Coaching, Performance Measurement and Improvement and Change Management. They also encourage people to choose this course because coaching “is now recognised as a key component in increasing performance, achieving goals and optimising personal and group effectiveness. Existing models of coaching are now being applied in wider contexts and in emerging new settings. This programme will assist students to develop new skills to meet increasingly complex life and management challenges and to practice these coaching skills to the highest standards.”
The field is growing both in businesses and schools; people are now realizing how vital these skills that life coaches have truly are. Though not everyone seeks to be a life coach as their main profession, learning how to harness the communication and leadership skills they use is a good way to get ahead in many diverse careers and become a better mentor to others.
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