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Can AI Replace Coaching? – Human-Led vs. AI-Led Executive Coaching

Can AI Replace Coaching? – Human-Led vs. AI-Led Executive Coaching

ALEXIOS GEORGAKOPOULOS
10/24/2023
Can AI Replace Coaching? – Human-Led vs. AI-Led Executive Coaching

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Before the 2020s, any executive coaching session would translate to a 1-on-1 between high-level managers and world-renowned coaches. You remember this, right? Having that 1-hour meeting on Fridays with a coach your company assigned to you?

Well, remote work became a thing, and AI just decided to boom. Quite literally. And, despite the common misconception that AI would target manual labor first, the reality was different. Coaching, creative businesses, and other yellow-collar jobs were suddenly becoming… obsolete?

So, can AI truly replace coaching? Are we all going to have our personal AI coach in, say, 2030? While this is quite the statement, there’s some truth and quite a lot of hype behind it.

So, today, we’ll look at how AI has really affected our beloved industry, andhow Wave is the only company combining both humans and AI to change the game. Let’s deep dive into this and let’s find out what the future truly holds!

How AI Revolutionized the Coaching Industry

Wait, we left our story right at its peak point. So, it’s 2022. ChatGPT gets released, and everyone’s expecting it to take over every job in the world, managers and executives included. New businesses of all sorts, especially in the coaching world, started arising, with AI being their backbone.

And, as much as we hate to admit it, they actually worked. You see, AI uses some fancy acronyms, like NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML (Machine Learning), to become as human-like as possible.

With these at hand, AI-led coaching, something you’d only see in those futuristic movies, became a thing, taking the world by storm in early 2023. Managers could now have their own AI coach built by some developer, and they could ask away – with no limitations.

Yes, you heard us right. AI, being a machine, can be accessed anytime, anywhere, for as long as one wishes. On top of that, the results were… surprisingly positive.

You see, NLP and ML, being the foundation of every AI coach, were great substitutes for a human coach’s intelligence and speech for some. Plus, one could program their AI chatbot to “become” a famous coach or psychologist by feeding it all the information about them. Having Carl Jung as a life coach is definitely an experience.

The Rise of AI Coaching – What It Is and How It Works

So, you should have a basic idea of AI coaching now. Let’s dive a little bit deeper, as it’s here where AI’s faulty and, frankly, magnificent nature appears. Starting off, let us explain what we mean when we explicitly talk about AI coaches.

In essence, an AI-led coaching experience is chatting with an improved version of ChatGPT about your current goals and issues. These AI coaches are, of course, trained to act like actual coaches, and they do provide reminders, clear feedback, like work habits, and some support to every client.

Because of their nature, they are available 24/7 and are asynchronous, meaning that you can hop on for a quick chat whenever you want. This alone was enough for folks to jump ship from human-led coaching to AI coaches, as it allowed them to spend a lot more time with their new coaches without any time restrictions.

As for how AI coaching works, we’ll have to get a bit technical, so bear with us. Remember the acronyms NLP and ML? These are essential for any AI chatbot. With NLP, AI can comprehend the sentences it’s fed from the client based on the structure, sentiment, and words used in each answer.

ML comes in when it’s time to provide the answers to the user. Machine learning helps AI understand patterns in human speech, which are personalized for each client. For example, if you start typing in capital letters, the AI will be able to understand you’re agitated and reply with a calming tone.

Then, there’s the whole ordeal of how AI is data-driven rather than experience-based. Basically, most human coaches implement experience-based coaching (ie. From my experience, you should do this). AI coaches gather all the data you provide and create personalized feedback based on these. As you can understand, the latter are much more objective.

Simply put, AI coaches are a 24/7, objective alternative to human coaches that use technology to explain human situations and emotions. Yes, this might sound dystopian. And, yes, AI-led coaching has its faults.

What Is the Future of AI Coaching – Pros and Cons

But, before we explain what these faults are, not highlighting the significant advances of AI coaches would be a crime. We’ve already mentioned some of these above, but here, we’ll emphasize why executives and managers were so quick to jump ship.

Wallet-Friendly

Look, coaching is expensive, no matter how you look at it. The value is obviously immense, and many CEOs end up making a profit through coaching, as they come up with better business ideas when everything in their personal life is in line.

So, imagine how excited they were when they found that AI doesn’t charge per hour and is a ton more wallet-friendly than humans. Who would’ve thought, eh?

It’s true, though; AI-led coaches are extremely affordable, and the actual value you get is even more substantial. Consider this. While a human coach would be available for a few hours a month and charge you a premium for each session, an AI one can be used for hours upon hours each day and comes with only a small monthly fee.

Personalized

This mostly comes from our coaching team, so don’t just take my word for it. Coaches can sometimes get carried away, and, more often than not, they provide more generic feedback. Well, AI does the exact opposite.

If you’re a high-level manager in the finance industry, your AI coach will give you individual suggestions for your unique needs.

On top of that, so many folks just don’t want to share their personal stories with another person. But an AI? An instant yes! Thus, the chatbot can create a much better profile for each client and provide even better feedback (most of the time).

Scalable

Scalability is a key buzzword in the AI industry as a whole. Human coaches only have a set amount of hours each day and can only attend to one client at a time. AI, on the other hand, can handle tons of different clients and inputs in an instant, and there’s no limit to the hours it can work a day – unless, of course, there’s some downtime for maintenance.

This makes AI coaches an incredible option for large companies. When you run a corporation with hundreds or thousands of employees worldwide, coaching is nearly impossible. AI chatbots make it possible just like that.

But AI isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. These advancements are currently not even a year old, and many changes are imminent. Let’s check out some of the current setbacks of AI coaching.

Ethical Issues

Most of AI’s issues lie in the fact that it’s not a human being. So, starting off, there are a lot of ethical and privacy problems that arise with these coaches.

AI coaches aren’t regulated as to what they can and can’t output. Thus, if a manager wants to learn how to take advantage of their team unethically, most AI chatbots will happily explain and provide feedback on how to do so.

The privacy concerns with AI are somewhat controversial. See, some people don’t want to share their personal life with another person. However, sharing them with an AI allows the company behind it to gain access to that same info. So, it’s kind of like a double-edged sword.

Lack of Human Touch

Let’s face it: human touch is absolutely essential in coaching. AI-led coaches might be an alternative to basic coaching, but a well-trained human coach with heaps of experience will be much, much better.

Yet, so many high-level folks decide to go for the affordability and accessibility of AI. Does this mean that human coaches will become obsolete in the near future?

Spoiler alert: It doesn’t!

Human-Led Coaching – Is It Future-Proof

Fast forward to a world dominated by artificial intelligence. Amidst the sea of ones and zeros, the value of human connection has ascended to a whole new level. The touch, empathy, and emotional intelligence that a human coach brings to the table are unparalleled and, dare we say, irreplaceable by any form of AI.

The bond, the rapport fostered between managers and their coaches, is not just essential – it's the bedrock of a successful coaching relationship. Human coaches have this uncanny ability to read between the lines, not just to comprehend what is being said but also to grasp the unsaid.

The subtleties of tone of voice, body language, and other non-verbal cues are part of the human coach’s arsenal—elements that often elude the grasp of AI.

For example, if you want to be more productive at work, AI will give you some tips you can implement. But, only a human coach can explain the why and the how behind these, giving you an idea of how they’ll help you achieve your goals.

Moreover, the richness of experience that human-led coaching brings to the fray is something that simply cannot be mimicked by AI. Each coach, with their unique life stories and accumulated wisdom, adds a dimension to the coaching session that is both invaluable and, for now, beyond the reach of AI.

In essence, the future of coaching isn’t a stark, either-or choice between human and AI. Instead, it’s a harmonious symphony of both, where AI handles the data-driven, objective aspects while human coaches contribute emotional intelligence and insights born out of experience. But we’ll talk more about that below.

Human Coaches vs AI Coaches – Is AI Really That Good?

AI in coaching? It's cool, it's fancy, it's the future, but it's not all there yet. For all the number-crunching and snazzy feedback it gives, AI just can't grasp the subtle art of human coaching.

Think about the messy web of human emotions and the dance of relationships. AI can throw some advice your way, sure, but it trips up when you throw in the quirks and quirks of human interaction. That's where the real gold is and where human coaches, with their personal touch, really shine.

And let's not forget the real magic in coaching - that trust and respect between a coach and their client. That's human to the core, and sorry, AI, but you're just not there yet.

So, in reality, AI is good. Really good. It’s the advantages it has that perfectly complement the setbacks of live human coaching. And it’s the latter’s benefits that create the ultimate coaching experience: Coaching with AI (or coAchIng).

The Future of Executive Coaching – Coaching With AI

Okay, here’s the real deal – the future of executive coaching isn’t an either-or between AI and humans. It’s like a tag team where both sides bring their A-game. AI’s got the 24/7 availability and data on lock. And humans? Well, they bring the emotional know-how, the real-deal experience, and that irreplaceable human touch.

What we’re looking at is a game-changer for the coaching world. It’s about breaking down the walls of who can access coaching and making it something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, all while keeping that essential, real human connection right at the heart of it all.

The Future Is Now With Wave AI

So, yes, AI in coaching is a thing that many coaches are afraid of. And, sure, these new 24/7 AI coaches might replace basic coaching. But, the reality is that, as far as we know, AI will be integrated into coaching with the help of humans. After all, A and I are part of coAchIng, but they’re not the whole deal (cheesy line, I know).

With that, you might be wondering how these new Human-led AI coaches will work. Well, all you need to do is just look at what we, Wave AI, have implemented.

Wave combines the best of two worlds: Humans and AI. The AI has been trained for you to have a proper framework to work with, that’s what we call the R.I.D.E. The backbone of all your sessions with Wave.

After your sessions, our Coaching Science team receives your input and will use it to give you the insights you need to progress towards your goal throughout your sessions. As simple as that, we simply use both. AI and a Coaching team, are the perfect team.

Wave is the first tool that brings to live this new reality, and compared to other coaching services, we have the most competitive price in the market. On top of that, all the data you share with Wave is 100% confidential, we don’t share any information with 3rd parties.

Interested in starting working on your goals? Book your first session now.

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