Can AI Be My Coach?

November 15, 2023
# min read
Grant Tate

I’ve been working with generative AI since ChatGPT was released in 2022, primarily exploring how to use the system in the practice of consulting and coaching.

I’ve been coaching professionals and executives for over fifteen years, helping them be successful in their jobs, building confidence, honing their decision-making process, becoming more adept at solving problems, and dealing with the complexities of balancing career and home conflicts. I design the coaching process to the client’s needs and objectives—and do not use a predetermined set of steps.

ChatGPT gives me a new set of tools to help my coaching clients. It helps me design the coaching process based on my initial interviews with the client and the data generated by the client’s personal assessment results. As the client and I interact in the person-to-person sessions, ChatGPT helps me generate solutions or data for the client and I to discuss in the next session. In other words, AI helps us explore a topic in more nuanced and complete ways.

Just yesterday, AI helped me develop a fifteen-page summary to address issues my client and I discussed last week. This summary will be the guideline when we meet later today. The document describes the issues we discussed and provides alternatives for dealing with a difficult personnel situation. It is also a complete guideline for using crucial conversation techniques for an important interview, criteria for selecting and recruiting a key executive, and an agenda of a critical all-hands meeting in the last part of this month.

Seeing this document yesterday raised several questions in my mind. If this client could use AI as well as I, would he need me? In what way would he need me? What human skills do I bring that make me an important player in his life and career?

Those are important questions every coach should ask. And I am still digging deep to find the answers. My encouragement, my mentoring, my understanding of this client makes me a critical component in his success and his development. My ability to ask the right questions at the right time, requiring him to think in new ways, challenging him to strive for more excellence, helping him build emotional intelligence are some of the most essential components of our work together. Are there more? Yes, I need to keep thinking about these questions.

However, there are some new questions on the horizon. AI cannot fulfill all those human traits, but could the client have used AI to generate his own guideline for our session?  Yes!

That raises a new set of questions.

• Could AI be my coach?

• Can AI help me build confidence. Possibly not, but it can generate strategies to build it.

• Can AI help me solve business or finance problems. It can generate solutions and a plan, but I’d have to do the work to implement it.

• Can AI help me develop better ways to work with people? Yes.

• Can AI help me develop a strategic plan for my business? Yes.

So, AI can help me with many questions I might discuss with a coach, but it will not help me implement the solutions. It can tell me how but will not give me the will to do the work.

Someone or some organization will soon build an AI driven website where a client can get coaching advice directly with no human intervention. Such a site can provide answers to many of the issues professionals and executives face.

We coaches have challenges ahead. AI may not replace us, but it can change our role.

We coaches need to understand that role and make sure our human empathy, judgment, ethics, and values shine through in everything we do.

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