Coaching Industry in 2024: A Transition From Thinking to Knowing with AI

The Coach’s Perspective

David Shechtman has been an executive coach for nearly 25 years and has worked with C-Suite leaders in the tech startup, financial services, and healthcare industries.

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“This isn’t working…” I muttered to myself as I stepped into the hallway. I was taking a short break from the coaching call I was leading. I had told my client, the top leader at a high-profile financial services firm, that I needed to share a piece of time-sensitive information with my wife, which was true. Yet, this tiny break also gave me the opportunity to reflect on the completely unsatisfying process I was leading with my client.

On paper, we were making progress. I used a version of the time-tested GROW model for coaches (Goal, Reality, Options, What now?). We were clear on the goal—establishing a theme for a key upcoming all-hands meeting. We knew the reality—the firm needed inspiration. We had worked through options and selected a firm-wide value to focus on.

Yet the last few minutes of our session had been a painful grind through next steps.

It felt as though I was trying to feed broccoli to a toddler. He hated it, and I felt exasperated.

My wife’s legitimate interruption via text was the perfect chance for me to regroup.

I was following the model, but it was clearly not producing helpful results. Part of me thought that this “flatness” in the experience was due to the fact that the client just hadn’t spent enough time with the idea yet. Even if things felt this way at the end of the call, it was incremental progress. We could revisit the topic next session.

However, another part of me—and the part that eventually won out—thought something was off about the whole thing. It began to dawn on me that we were moving too quickly and accepting initial assumptions as clear choices.

“I forced him to choose the first theme that came to mind… let’s revisit it,” I muttered to myself again as I prepared to return to the session.

Upon resuming the session I interrupted our process and shared my observation that the theme he had selected was simply not the right one, given how flat and lifeless the session had become.

He enthusiastically agreed. We returned to the original choice and considered alternatives. Within a few minutes we hit the jackpot. My client chose another theme that popped from the moment he uttered it. We were back on track and the session closed with energy and gratitude.

At this stage of my career, nearly 25 years in coaching, I trust myself to recognize subtle nuances in client interactions. I’m able to perceive when a client is telling me what I want to hear or going through the motions. I’m also able to recognize the limitations of content—the frameworks and models that both organize coaching sessions and often inform clients about key concepts for their growth.

However, what I most value at this stage of my coaching career is the intuitive sense I’ve developed for my clients’ internal state. My clients tell me that any coach can help them through a process or challenge them to self-reflect. But only I see the full picture of their situation—what’s being said, what’s not being said, and what “feels off.”

This ability to operate at subtle levels has not always been the case. As a newer coach my intuition was hard at work, yet I didn’t trust myself well enough to act on it. I would often bite my tongue and withhold observations. Or, I would share a few nuggets, but not with confidence or clarity, leaving everyone confused. But now, I am in a groove at this stage of things.

However, given some early experiences with artificial intelligence (ChatGPT and others), I believe that helping clients at an intuitive level is increasingly the ultimate value of a coaching relationship. 

Describing the value of a coaching relationship is challenging. Different schools of thought exist on the topic, and the coaching field includes thousands of practitioners operating in distinct ways.

However, I believe that most coaches would agree to the following list of valuable contributions that a coaching relationship can offer:

  • A collaborative connection that fosters creativity, decision making, and action-taking.
  • A safe space or container for trust-building, sharing, and support.
  • A forum for accountability on stated commitments.
  • A presence in clients’ lives that adds meaningful contributions, sometimes in the form of genuine care and other times in the form of smart ideas.

This list above essentially covers two domains of value for the coach: 1) What the coach knows. Their intelligence. And 2) How a coach connects to the client. Their intuition.


One observation I’ve made over the last 25 years—especially in the last 10—is that my clients know a lot more about everything. 

The proliferation of on-demand learning has armed leaders with near-universal access to smart ideas. The old gatekeepers of great thinking, elite universities and clubby social circles, just don’t function as they used to. Anyone with access to the internet and some time can gain a graduate-school level understanding of a topic in a very short period of time… for free, or close to free.


So, why am I here? What am I doing?

Here’s what I’m doing. I’m…

  • Listening to what’s not being said.
  • Observing energy, tone, and variance in expression.
  • Paying attention to my own internal fields of awareness (my gut sense and intuition).
  • Considering how my client is moving through their process, rather than simply the final product.

This is my value. It’s quite subtle compared to the value I was adding when I started my coaching career.

Viewed one way I could say that AI is diminishing my value and squeezing me out of my lifelong career. But I don’t see the situation this way.

Viewed another way, I could say that AI is relieving me of a terrific burden that’s gotten in the way of more meaningful coaching work in the past. This is how I choose to see the situation.

In the past I’ve often felt like a walking encyclopedia of content for my clients. Even though I knew my job wasn’t to teach or train my clients, I felt enormous pressure to deliver the right information at the right moment.

I increasingly no longer feel this pressure.

I don’t have to be the “answer person” for my clients. And we no longer have to spend time sorting out where to find good content. That game is over.

Freed of the burden of being an all-knowing leadership guru, I can play the role I truly love and deeply value. I can be their advocate.

I can spend my time understanding what’s most important to them. I can dive deeply into their experiences and explore multiple perspectives. I can sense and perceive subtle shifts in their energy and bring these observations to light. I can share my clients' impacts on me in our sessions and how these impacts likely mirror impacts on others.

These are valuable, human-to-human coaching experiences. These experiences are why I got into coaching in the first place. I didn’t invest time, money, and energy into mastering coaching so that I could merely find or follow academic models.

I got into coaching because nothing in this world lights me up like seeing the glint of gratitude in my clients’ eyes when they experience a breakthrough.

Better technology, perhaps counter-intuitively, is helping me achieve my life’s purpose. 

The Technologist’s Perspective

Alina Trigubenko, a coach, CEO & founder of - an operating platform for coaching, consulting, training and therapy organizations.

As a technologist and a client of many coaches, therapists, and trainers, I’ve always been fascinated by the heart-to-heart connection, holistic coaching experience, and that aha moment, magic, that happens when the right for each other humans connect with the right context and optimization. That’s why I dedicated my recent few years to optimizing with Profi - we augment coaches with automation and niche-specific workflow enablement so that they can focus on their gift of helping people.

AI has taken the entire technology sector by storm, and the coaching sector is ripe for the revolution that would democratize access to coaching services since the cost of doing business is decreasing with AI. 

Think of AI in its current state as a near-infinite number of interns who, in seconds, do the groundwork of summarizing, brainstorming, and filling in the blank page with a template to unlock your creativity faster. These interns read all the books and methodologies online, but their attention span lasts just about a few seconds. 

The current AI on the market does not yet have human-grade intelligence, yet it’s on the verge of unlocking one. 

When AI does turn into Generative AI, we all get a second brain, which, in turn, unlocks our ability to think more creatively and focus on empathy. 

Empathy as a service is the new era of coaching. 

Every technological revolution has unlocked a lot of creativity and freed up our time from manual work. Now, it’s freeing us from extra clicking as well. From the user experience standpoint, every click matters; each click separates us from getting the value. 


People engaging with coaches are often in a heightened emotional state and need the fastest time to get support; they don’t want to be searching for information. They expect their coach to be fully equipped with all the relevant context to help shed light on their blind spots and guide them toward finding peace of mind.


Coaches strive for a higher impact, and what better partner can one ask for other than AI? The best AI applications coming into the market offer smart, contextual, real-time insight, feedback, or help without you even asking for it. Imagine you could be helping more people at scale, and your AI Copilot would be your never-tiring intern. AI is the missing piece that can help augment each coaching session with a deeper analysis of the historical data related to the clients and their imprint throughout the engagement and outside of it. Tools like KrystalKnows have been around the block and normalized analyzing our personality through our digital footprint. 

Specific predictions

  1. Clients will expect their coaches to be tech-enabled. Clients adopt habits trained by using mega-scalers - ChatGPT and other popular resources. User habits then trickle down to the rest of the digital products because all of us in technology design optimize for low to no-friction experiences. The 24/7 availability of an agent of a coach I work with will become the new norm. At a minimum, every client will expect coaches to be even more holistically equipped to service them with near-infinite access to augmented intelligence.  
  2. Global reach and democratization of access. Suppose the language barrier is out of the picture. Can coaches from the US or Japan deliver substantial, differentiated value to parts of the world previously underserved by coaching providers? I think so. With the costs of doing business going down, I believe coaching services will be more accessible for clients who previously could not afford them. 
  3. Clients expect their coaching and training engagements to be incredibly personalized, down to the individual level. If content creation costs go practically zero, coaching clients should be able to see content being hyper-personalized to appeal to their needs and goals uniquely. 
  4. The value of coaching will shift from being knowledgeable to being connected. The days of coaches being valued as a reservoir of best practices and insider knowledge are ending. Barriers to these historical sources of support are eroding. Coaches will shine because of the depth and influence of their relationship with their clients.


We believe that “genie is out of the bottle” with AI technology and its near-future impacts on the coaching industry. AI will heavily assist, and in some cases replace, the current value of many coaches: to share information. This will leave the coach freed up to focus on subtle and relational aspects of the work. And, similar to YouTube or any other social media platforms, having a content-rich channel, with on-demand access to materials, will serve to enhance the profile and offerings of coaches. However, in addition to exposure to coaches, AI-driven capabilities will allow clients to interact, asynchronously,  with a digital twin of their coach with no barrier in between sessions. AI replicas of coaches will become an expected service type such that clients will have 24/7 access to a version of the coaching experience.

With this in mind, coaches must look carefully at the vendor they currently use or are considering using for coaching business operations, especially if already implementing AI or an AI-first solution. Explore their data retention policy look for Zero-Retention Data Policy, which ensures a choice to fully erase data on demand and that inputs are never used for training purposes for outside use cases. If none is found, reach out to them to learn how they are looking at building AI and using your data. 

Interested in seeing what can do for your coaching business? Book a personalized demo with one of our experts, or try it out yourself with our Free Trial.


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