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ET-035: The Impact of Technology on Organization and Coaching Practices

With Prof. Jonathan Passmore

ET-035: The Impact of Technology on Organization and Coaching Practices

and your host Wayne Brown on February 21, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Prof. Jonathan Passmore

All right, welcome TEAM ET to another week. There’s so much happening around the world at the moment. I’m really curious to hear from all of you on just how well you are coping.

This week, we’re still in the Northern hemisphere, but on the opposite side of the North Atlantic Ocean from our guests last week. Instead, we’re back in the UK and chatting with Professor Dr. Jonathan Passmore.

Isn’t life great the way that we can teleport instantly to any corner of the world, and not only teleport, but how we’re able to connect with such interesting people and explore their career journey?

And you’ll find that Professor Passmore is definitely no exception in this regard. Jonathan is a Senior Vice President at CoachHub, and a professor at Henley Business School, as well as a global thought leader in behavioral change. He’s listed in the Thinkers50 and the Global Gurus List.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…I think it’s incumbent on all CHROs and those people responsible for leadership development, talent development in organizations across the world to be thinking about how the last three years have impacted and changed the nature of their roles. And there had been really gradually during the 2000s, a recognition that science evidence, but also technology, were enabling new opportunities for learning and development…”

Today’s Guest:  PROF. JONATHAN PASSMORE

Professor Passmore is a chartered psychologist. He holds five degrees, including an MBA and Doctorate in psychology. He’s an accredited coach with the ICF and the EMCC, as well as holding qualifications in team coaching and coach supervision, and was an inaugural chair of the British Psychology Society Division of Coaching Psychology.

He’s published widely and contributed 40 books and over 100 scientific papers and book chapters to the field, making him one of the most cited coaches in the world. His written books include Becoming a Coach: The Essential ICF Guide, published back in 2020, The Coaches Handbook in 2021. And Coach Me! Your Personal Board of Directors in 2022. And just a footnote here, anyone that’s heard me speaking about establishing your own personal board of directors, now you have some insight and connection to where that comes from.

Over the past two decades, Jonathan’s worked as an executive coach, consultant and educator with hundreds of leaders and managers from senior UK politicians to board directors, helping them become the best version of themselves.

Prior to his current roles, Jonathan worked as managing director for a UK psychology company, worked for global firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM Business Consulting on large change projects, and executive coaching and OPM on government, and not-for-profit leadership development.

In our conversation today, we’ll be looking at a couple of the reports that Jonathan and his research team have recently released about the future through the use of technology and the impact that this is likely to have for coaches and leaders together.

Final words from Jonathan:

“Well, I would finish our conversation with three tips, and these are three tips that I’ve probably used throughout my career. But I think that they are useful for people, leaders, managers, people who are starting out their careers to contemplate how they bring them alive in their own practices.

The first of those is about exposing ourselves to new ideas. And increasingly with technology, but this is was also true in 1980 as it is true in 2023, that we often get a limited set of information. We are a member of a professional body and we read the magazine or we read the website, or we read the journals connected to that professional body, that worldview, that lens of looking through the world. We probably watch a particular news channel or subscribing to a particular social media site. The more we like or engage with pieces of content, the more it feeds us the same stuff.

So our worldview is narrowing. What we need to do is instead get out and expose ourselves to different ideas, ideas that we won’t agree with, we might find obnoxious, that might be contentious, frustrating, irritating for us to encounter. But as we do, it stimulates our thinking. It makes us think, why do I hold the view that I do? Why does that person believe this set of view about the world or this idea? And this can be in the areas of engineering, technology. It might be in relation to race or faith or diversity.

The second one that I would say is about a commitment to continual learning. And as someone who has five degrees, that’s something I’ve reflected in my own career. Keep going back and engaging with new learning and new content. Keep reinventing ourselves. And that learning can be formal and academic, but it doesn’t have to be.

It can be simply saying, “I’m gonna download this piece of software, I’m gonna experiment with it.” VR Meet was the example I gave earlier in our conversation that what does that look like in coaching?

How could I use this to develop a new strand of work? Maybe I could use VR Meet to be doing team coaching. How would that connect together? Or, I’m not currently on a coaching platform. Maybe I could try this or I’ve not engaged with this aspect of work. Maybe go find out about it. Let me spend six months playing with it like a toy to experiment and understand how it works and how it might serve me and my clients.

So continual learning being the third. And the final one that I would say is an encouragement for each person, each of us to start writing a reflective journal. And these reflective journals just build up a wealth of insights for us when we look back at them, maybe at the end of a month or the end of a year, and reflection of capturing what’s going on for us in a day.

Not just describing that, not just describing that, but capturing our thoughts, emotions, insights, and maybe ideas that we might have, maybe responses that are going onto a particular topic. And we can then see patterns that emerge. So we are developing a greater understanding of who we are. So this self-awareness aspect, I think is an important part for any leader, anyone who’s successful, understanding who we are is the first step in understanding others.

And by understanding ourselves and others, it’s more likely that we can be more impactful, more persuasive, and thus a better leader, a better manager, and a more successful person in the role that we perform at work.”

0:00:03.2 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m Wayne Brown and welcome to The ET project. As always, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as TEAM ET. This week, we’re still in the Northern hemisphere, but on the opposite side of the North Atlantic Ocean from our guests last week. Instead, we’re back in the UK and chatting with Professor Dr. Jonathan Passmore. Isn’t life great the way that we can teleport instantly to any corner of the world, and not only teleport, but how we’re able to connect with such interesting people and explore their career journey? And you’ll find that Professor Passmore is definitely no exception in this regard. Jonathan is a Senior Vice President at CoachHub, and a professor at Henley Business School, as well as a global thought leader in behavioral change. He’s listed in the Thinkers50 and the Global Gurus List.

0:01:01.3 WB: He’s a chartered psychologist. He holds five degrees, including an MBA and Doctorate in psychology. He’s an accredited coach with the ICF and the EMCC, as well as holding qualifications in team coaching and coach supervision, and was an inaugural chair of the British Psychology Society Division of Coaching Psychology. He’s published widely and contributed 40 books and over 100 scientific papers and book chapters to the field, making him one of the most cited coaches in the world. His written books include Becoming a Coach: The Essential ICF Guide, published back in 2020, The Coaches Handbook in 2021. And Coach Me! Your Personal Board of Directors in 2022. And just a footnote here, anyone that’s heard me speaking about establishing your own personal board of directors, now you have some insight and connection to where that comes from.

0:01:58.2 WB: Over the past two decades, Jonathan’s worked as an executive coach, consultant and educator with hundreds of leaders and managers from senior UK politicians to board directors, helping them become the best version of themselves. Prior to his current roles, Jonathan worked as managing director for a UK psychology company, worked for global firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM Business Consulting on large change projects, and executive coaching and OPM on government, and not-for-profit leadership development. In our conversation today, we’ll be looking at a couple of the reports that Jonathan and his research team have recently released about the future through the use of technology and the impact that this is likely to have for coaches and leaders together. As you might expect, it’s an insightful conversation, so please get yourself ready as we launch into this episode titled The Impact of Technology on Organizations and Coaching Practices.

0:03:00.8 Speaker 2: Welcome to The ET project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:03:16.3 WB: All right, well, welcome TEAM ET to another week. There’s so much happening around the world at the moment. I’m really curious to hear from all of you out there, you know, just how you are coping. Our guest is Professor Dr. Jonathan Passmore, and as you would’ve heard me state in the intro, he’s a chartered psychologist and highly acclaimed, highly acclaimed in many, many things. Jonathan, welcome to The ET project. Delighted to have you be able to break into your busy schedule to join us today.

0:03:45.7 Jonathan Passmore: It’s a pleasure to join you, Wayne. And great to be having this conversation.

0:03:50.7 WB: What we’re going to be talking about today, team, is we’re going to be gazing a little bit into the future, exploring the topic of leadership, maybe today, but in the years ahead, as we become increasingly disrupted by technology. Jonathan is heavy into research. So I believe Jonathan, a lot of your work is very research, heavily research based. I know you’ve just released a couple of reports in the last few months, we’ll come to those shortly. How are you handling the sheer volume of information and I guess, potential tasks that you could tackle every day? Like, how are you coping with the day on day world that we’re involved in?

0:04:36.0 JP: Well, when you did your introduction, Wayne, what I thought was I’m thriving and I feel immensely blessed. I feel blessed and I’m thriving because while there is so much going on, that just provides me with immense choice and so many different opportunities to speak to you, to speak to other people, to go to Israel and speaker at conferences, to write and share ideas, to engage in research, to collaborate with academics and practitioners across the world, and all of that opportunity is a blessing. And it depends how we frame these things.

0:05:16.9 JP: There is a thought that we could say, “oh my gosh, how can I get all of this done?” Or I could say, “Oh my gosh. How can I get all of this done?” It’s a sense of, whoa, there is so much choice. And of course we can be choiceful about the things that we engage with, and see these opportunities, these demands in us. We could see them as alternatively. When they’re demands, they become pressures. When they’re opportunities it’s up to us which ones we pick up as though I’m in a… I’ve just opened a treasure trove or on an island surrounded by treasure boxes and everyone has got beautiful jewels in and well, isn’t that a fantastic opportunity? We can pick which jewels are the ones that we’re going to put into our backpacks. We’re blessed.

[laughter]

0:06:10.8 WB: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reframe in my own thoughts about how I could look at things a little bit differently as well. So you mentioned just coming back from Israel, which is excellent. I believe that you were keynote at one of the HR conferences there, and I learned that you asked a great question ’cause I come out of the L&D field about how do they perceive the L&D industry or world changing. I’d be interested what the response was.

0:06:43.7 JP: So I’m posing the question of that particular presentation, and I think it’s incumbent on all CHROs and those people responsible for leadership development, talent development in organizations across the world to be thinking about how the last three years have impacted and changed the nature of their roles. And there had been really gradually during the 2000s, a recognition that science evidence, but also technology, were enabling new opportunities for learning and development. And we are seeing this with the emergence of multiplicity of apps. So digital coaching platforms being one of those, but also platforms that offer, such as LinkedIn Learning asynchronous content, but such a wealth of content that individuals can be choiceful about what they want to learn and what’s relevant to them now, and all delivered in bite-size pieces at the time when the individual wants to engage in that learning or in that coaching conversation.

0:07:43.2 JP: So we’ve seen a gradual progression towards that. But really COVID and the last three years have accelerated it. We’ve seen the emergence and growth of those digital coaching platforms. We’ve seen the growth of these online learning communities and online learning providers. And at the same time, we’ve also seen changes in the nature of leadership expectations and organizational structure. So in many parts of the world, we’ve moved towards a hybrid model of organizational work where people are not in the office 9 through 5, 9 through 6, Monday through Friday, but instead are in the office maybe two or three days of the week with two or three days working from home. This brings with it a set of expectations about how one would operate and lead teams in hybrid environments. A second thing that’s been happening, I think for organizations is a recognition that particularly in many parts of the developed world, there has been a labor shortage.

0:08:50.2 JP: And so talent is an important part of organizational success and how one works with and develops that talent, when that talent recognizes how key it is to organizational success and how mobile that talent has become. So when I started work in the early 1980s, it was not uncommon. In fact, it was the most common pattern that people would join an organization and certainly join a sector and work in that sector or that organization for the whole of their career. And that 30, 40-year career that they would have in that, in single organization, they might change jobs a number of times, but often the job changes were infrequent. The people would typically work five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 years in a role before they then changed. Now we are seeing in organizations a very different attitude of employees who want to progress more quickly, enjoy variety, and move between roles often every year or two.

0:09:54.8 JP: So you might have an employee who lasts 18 months or 24 months before they’re keen to move on to the next opportunity. And there is less reticence maybe because there’s more opportunity for people to move between organizations and also between sectors. The skills are much more transferable because of our increasing use of technology. And as a result of that, people then start to see their development as about them and their career, what we could describe as personalized learning agendas. So the movement as a result for organizations needs to be away from a sheep-dip approach that we might have seen in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s where organizations provided a development program for their HIPOs, or a program for their middle managers that put everybody through the same program.

0:10:44.6 JP: Now those individuals want personalized learning. What’s gonna be relevant for me in the challenges that I’m facing, and also what’s gonna be relevant for me given the nature of my team and the nature of leadership. So I’ve already talked about hybrid being one aspect that people need to consider. How do I lead in a hybrid environment? But technology also removes the relevance of geography. And if people were able to come to the office, they’d probably live within around about 60 minutes journey time from the office. If I don’t need to come into the office anymore, then I could live 60 hours away in travel time. And so what we are seeing in not only is there’ve been more geographical movement and more cultural diversity in individual countries, but also people are no longer working in an individual country who may be part of the same team.

0:11:34.4 JP: And that requires leaders to be more culturally sensitive, more culturally aware, and recognize the diversity of their team members. Not just in relation to their gender and their personality, but in terms of their own experiences and those national cultures and faiths that they’re gonna be bringing into the workplace that that leader, team manager, coordinator needs to take into account in the way that they lead them. This too needs to be captured in the way that learning is delivered for organizations, which moves us away from that sheep-dip approach that I was talking about to personalized learning agendas. As a result, I think that there is a pivot point that’s now happening in learning and development.

0:12:18.7 JP: It’s happening in coaching, which is a microcosm of learning where we are looking to that more personalized agenda. And because psychology and researchers provided us with more science and evidence, HR leaders are saying, we’ve gotta make sure that just like in other parts of our business, we look upon science and evidence as being important, that’s now recognized as a critical component of learning programs. No longer can we be talking about learning styles where there’s very little evidence to support this. These ideas that somebody came up with in the 60s have gone and now we’re saying, show me the evidence. Show me how this makes an impact on our bottom line or an individual performance.

0:13:00.9 WB: So very, very much challenging what we all used to believe as the status quo, now looking at it from a different perspective. I’m curious when we talk about learning how universities, I know you’re associated with the Henley Business School. How are universities and locations like the academia population in general, how are they responding to this shift?

0:13:26.8 JP: Well, universities are institutions that are often ones that are focusing most on that science and new thought. And so even before COVID, there was a recognition that there was a need to think about how technology was changing the world of work. A recognition that particularly hybrid working four day a week ideas really circulating and starting to think about how that would then play itself out. So at Henley, one of my colleagues wrote a fascinating report about the four-day week, which is currently an experiment in the UK where a number of organizations are trialing this. And the early evidence suggests that it leads to per hour increased productivity and overall performance outcomes are not changed. We’re also talking about the importance of diversity. So my own work with Charmaine Roche, we wrote reports about racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

0:14:26.1 JP: Both of those reports are for free on the Henley website for people to go and access them as downloads. And many of the other academic institutions are also engaging in these ideas about what are the new rules of work, what does work look like in a post COVID world? At the moment, those are still conceptual ideas because we’ve not firmed up, I don’t have enough evidence to say this is exactly what it should look like. But these ideas are feeding through into programs. And what we will see over the coming three, four, five years is the nature of learning in academic institutions will be changing. It will shift towards more online learning. Many programs have already shifted to much more bite-size and much more skills-based learning alongside the theoretical academic qualifications.

0:15:17.5 JP: So for leaders and managers that look more to executive education programs, Henley offers those specialized in that particular space. But there are other great business schools that are doing similar work. And this means I think that leaders and managers will increasingly look towards a continual journey of learning rather than seeing their learning journey stopping once they’ve got their degree, closing the book on learning and then getting into the world of work. Instead, these aspects would mesh together because unless you keep learning, you’re not able to keep changing. And in a dynamic world, the ability to change to be agile is critical for successful leaders. And I see them gonna be engaging with university short programs, bite-size content that helping them to stay in touch with the evidence and science, and to be the agile leader that I’ve just talked about.

0:16:09.9 WB: What happens to all the real estate that these universities have? The huge campuses scattered around parts of the country, around the world in some cases? What happens to all of that?

0:16:22.4 JP: Well, I think that there’ll still be a need for some particularly undergraduate students. We’ve seen in the UK the number of undergraduate students is continuing to rise as a percentage of the overall population. So we need a more skilled workforce. And if you talk to A-Level students in the UK, you talk to undergraduates, what they typically say to you is, “I want the experience of going away. I want to be away from home and have that in between time where I might go home at the holidays and see mom and dad and get to see my brothers and sisters, but I’ve also got that independence time when I’m at the university doing my studying.” So I see for undergraduate programs that being an important, but not the only way that individuals can study. For some of them there might be a need for them to be at home and go to a physical campus that’s close by.

0:17:10.6 JP: And for others there might think, “Well, I could study at Harvard, but I’m not gonna need to go there because I could do this program online.” So we’ll see much more variety in the undergraduate programs and that will make use of those physical environments that you’ve just described. And of course, many of those physical environments, if you go to Harvard or if you go to Oxford or you go to Cambridge, these are beautiful buildings that are not gonna be knocked down, that have been there for hundreds of years. And as a result, those institutions will continue to grow and to prosper and use those physical spaces. And then alongside that as the education environment continues to grow I would say that there’ll be much more use of those those virtual spaces alongside the physical spaces. So people using Zoom and other learning platforms to engage in their learning and maybe coming together once, twice, three times during the program for one day or maybe not at all. Maybe only doing the program online. So variety I see as the future.

0:18:15.4 WB: My final thought on this would be around the price structure for these programs. Do you see any shift downward for these programs that are being offered?

0:18:26.5 JP: Well, there’s much variety in pricing across the world and in the European Union for European Union citizens, in many countries education is provided by the state and it is free. In some, we have a mixed economy model where university student fees are managed. So the government sets the rate for an undergraduate program and that’s the UK as an example. And then we have a third model, the United States being an example of that, where free market reigns and you see some quite cost-effective programs and some very expensive programs. And that reflects maybe the academic staff that are there. The nature of the institution and the brand of the institution. So if you do want to go to Yale or Stanford or Harvard, then the fees that you’re gonna be paying there are gonna be significantly different than a small state university somewhere in the Midwest.

0:19:25.1 JP: And that’s different again to what you might see in the UK for undergraduate program. And if you compared fees in, let’s say Denmark, where you are able to study as a Danish citizen at no cost. I don’t think that model, Wayne, is gonna change. I think that we’ll see a continued increase of fees, which reflects the power of students to pay. And as we if, and I believe that we will, if we continue to grow the global economy, then individual wealth continues to grow. And so the power of a consumer to pay will grow. And they’ll be prepared to pay us as students or executives more for a Oxford, Harvard, and Henley program than they might do for another institution, which is less well known and less well respected.

0:20:17.2 WB: I was gonna make up my last question, L&D but you’ve just, you just sparked another thought [chuckle] as you were speaking there. What do you see as the medium for the online learning in the future? There’s talk about meta and these types of things. Do you see us gravitating in this direction? Or the physical space, okay. It probably doesn’t change too much, but the online space seems very open-ended. What do you see as that future then?

0:20:46.7 JP: So, I have no doubt the virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality will be mediums in which we are using to help learning. And it depends on what you are seeking to learn. So to take an example, if somebody is learning to drive a heavy goods vehicle or engage in a forklift truck course, the virtual reality space could be a really good space to help people to get an experience of starting out on their learning journey. And it takes them forward at a faster pace than if they were just simply watching a screen. It feels more real, and it allows them to engage as we develop that technology with that virtual world with a greater sense of reality for them and thus, potential learning. When it comes to knowledge, the acquisition of knowledge rather than skill and certainly behavioral based skills, I think that there is less value in that. I have tested out some of these, one specific example I’ve seen related to using presentation skills in the virtual reality, and it gave you some feedback and giving… I do a lot of presentations.

0:22:06.0 JP: I had a go of this. I was interested in the feedback. I got an 8 out of 10, and it told me I should be making more eye contact with the audience. Now, interestingly, as a psychologist, I assumed that that was one of the things that I was gonna be required to do. And so that’s what I accentuated in my presentation. But what was less skillful in the piece of software, or it didn’t pick up, or at least I was unable to trigger the software to show that I was looking at each individual person. So we are still learning with these pieces of technology. They’re still at the very… We’re in the foothills, really, of the use of VR and AR and mixed reality. But I’m confident that over the coming years that in some aspects of our work, they will become important and useful tools to aid learning alongside virtual spaces, such as Zoom, alongside as real classroom spaces that people are using. And we’ll be blending these together depending on the nature of learning outcomes that we are seeking to help learners to engage with and to acquire.

0:23:11.6 WB: I just saw on the internet yesterday, they’ve got a new software out, just coincidentally, that keeps your eyes focused on the camera regardless of where they’re actually looking. It’s addressing that challenge already. Let’s shift our conversation a little bit, if that’s okay. And we’ll start to look at some of the changes and the challenges as you’ve already led in with the organizations, but also around leadership and the practices for leaders going forward as a result, primarily of the convergence of technology, not only with the change of everything else that’s going on, but primarily through technology. Before we jump headlong into that, I know you’ve released a couple of reports over the last couple of months, and I’m just interested as a coach myself, what are the key takeaways on the one that you just released related to the impact from COVID and the future of coaching based on changes in technology? What’s your key takeaway coming out of that, if you remember the report?

0:24:21.4 JP: So this is a paper that is published in Coaching: An International Journal that…

0:24:25.6 WB: Yes.

0:24:26.2 JP: Summarized the survey that we did in 2021 of the impact of COVID on coaching. And this particular paper that’s just been published in Coaching: An International Journal, it drew out a conclusion that the people who benefited most from COVID in the coaching industry were those people who were already optimizing their use of technology. So, in other words, we live in a dynamic and changing world, and people who have engaged with technology who are using that are gonna be better prepared to move into the future. Now, in the case of specifics relating to this research, we asked people about how many hours of coaching that they were doing before COVID and then during their primary COVID year, 2020.

0:25:17.5 JP: And what we found was the people who had the biggest reduction were the people, it’s not surprising, who were doing face-to-face work and who weren’t comfortable with the use of online platforms or online technology. The people who did moderately okay were the people who were using some use of this. And the people who did best were the people who had a variety of different outlets for their coaching and that they were working for coaching platforms. They were running their own online and face-to-face coaching businesses and were doing other work. And those were the people who fared best during this time. So our broad conclusion is for individuals in a world which is complex, dynamic, messy, unpredictable individuals are best to not only keep up with technology.

0:26:06.2 JP: So we’ve just been talking about VR, mixed reality, augmented reality. There may be people who are listening to this that don’t even know the difference between those. So an encouragement, go out, find out what those are, could you experiment with them? So has somebody used VR Meet? It’s one example of a tool that you could be using for team coaching or even for face-to-face coaching. And the only way that we’re able to build our skills with these new technologies is to experiment with them. So doing some pro bono work, doing it maybe for a charity, and then doing a dozen sessions, getting used to the technologies there, the whiteboards that are in there, how you can create different physical spaces in that virtual reality space and what impact that might have on the client, how you might optimize that to help clients to gain new insights, or new learning.

0:27:00.7 JP: And once you’ve experimented, that confidence grows. And then should the environment start to shift in that direction, you are already an experienced user. You’ve already got the knowledge to be able to optimize this. Of course, that learning, that development requires an investment. And it’s very easy for us, sometimes as humans to just sit back and go, “Ah, everything’s okay. It’s absolutely fine. There’s no need for me to change.” And individuals who did that, the farriers who did that, when automobiles came along and they said, “You know, it’s okay, I can carry on my really successful business. There are tens of thousands of horses that need to be fitted with shoes.”

0:27:44.3 WB: Yep.

0:27:44.6 JP: Now, there are a few farriers barriers who are left in the UK and other parts of the world, but they’re few and far between. And the people who were previously riding those horses or using horses to draw their carts and now sitting in a lorry or a car. So we need to keep up with technology if we’re going to thrive. So the farrier needs to relearn themselves as being a mechanic. You know, how do cars operate? How can I do this? Exactly the same with technology. You might be a face-to-face coach. How does technology, how do I use technology in a coaching session? It’s different. Now VR and other technologies are emerging. Go and experimenting with those. And the only way to learn is by giving it a go and to begin to experience it. Begin to figure out how you are able to, for yourself, use that in the coaching work or the learning spaces. What works, what doesn’t work.

0:28:35.2 JP: So I think it’s really important that people adapt. And that’s one of the key conclusions from that COVID piece of research. I think the other piece of interesting data, at least for us as researchers, and I wear two hats. I’m a both a senior leader in a tech consulting business. And I’ve had a background in consulting organizations, but I have also had the benefit of working and ’cause I’m fascinated by science and knowledge to work in academic environments. And those academic environments really can inform practice just as practice can share its work with those academic environments. So for me, it’s a sweet, sweet blend. And in these particular spaces, we need to be thinking about, I guess the whole idea of how individuals can work in environments where they might be different or similar to their clients.

0:29:31.9 JP: So one of the findings that came out from this COVID research was a gender bias towards women coaches. So male coaches… Sorry, male coachees prefer to choose a woman from the data that we collected. And secondly, we also found that females across the world, it’s pretty universal. Every country that we looked at, females prefer to be coached by female. Okay. So that’s great for women coaches. And we can see that in the coaching industry, broadly across the world, two thirds of the global coach community are women. So if you are a woman, okay, how do you then start to differentiate yourself from those other women to attract more clients? And clients are gonna be naturally drawn towards you, your gender. But if you’re a man, what are the implications for you? You are gonna be less likely to be chosen by a woman. Why is that?

0:30:26.3 JP: And we have some hypothesis that we set out in the paper, and I won’t do a spoiler now and share them, but people might like to have a read of that. And David Gray in an earlier paper also made some suggestions around this. If you’re a man, what could you be doing in terms of your website or your script to make you more attractive to female coaches that they may feel as though you might be a suitable coach for them? And equally the same, how do you position yourself towards male coachees? What’s going on here is that men are not selling themselves in a way that is optimally attractive for men and women coachees. So there’s a little bit more research that we need to do, but we’ve made some suggestions to try and explain that gender difference. But I think that’s a fascinating insight with some real direct implications for coaches and those involved in the learning community. The how we communicate our offer to others is really important.

0:31:28.3 WB: Yeah. Some great insights here. I’ve gone through it and made some changes myself to my business. So thank you for doing that research and publishing the paper. It was very insightful. If we shift a little bit now to organizations and rather than the individual, solo entrepreneurs looking at larger organizations, what are some of the greatest challenges you see that lie ahead for them as a result of the technological disruption that’s going to be ongoing? Right? It’s not a one-time event. It’s, [chuckle] a continuum. So what’s some of the greatest challenges that you see for organizations going forward?

0:32:11.9 JP: Well, the pace of change has increased significantly. And so for the entrepreneur who comes up with a great idea, the challenge, of course is to ensure that your great idea is one that still has traction in three, five, seven, 10 years time. And it’s as if someone invents the radio and then instead of it being 30 or 40 years, maybe even 50 years before black and white television comes along, it’s not 50 years, but it’s 50 months. So we’ve got the emergence of digital coaching, but what’s the next idea? Well, how will AI coach bots impact on their industry?

0:32:51.5 WB: Yes.

0:32:51.6 JP: How do digital platforms and human coaches respond to the emergence of AI bots? When the evidence is telling us that at a most basic level, even now, and these AI bots are very simple at this stage, again, we are just in the foothills and development of these, but now, in terms of goal attainment, they can help people to attain the same outcomes as a human coach. So what we are seeing then is there must be some other aspect that needs to be emphasized currently by human coaches to highlight the difference between them. Because the price point for an AI bot and a human coach is gonna be significant. And as we move into the future, AI bots and AI technology has the potential to mirror what humans do to the point, I would suggest that maybe in three, five, seven, 10, 15, 20 years, it’s hard to predict the future when these things will happen.

0:33:52.4 JP: But over that coming period of time, probably 10 to 20 years, we will see that technology reach a point where for most conversations, it’s hard to distinguish between the AI bot and the human coach that it has reached a level of sophistication. But the advantage of the AI bot is that you can choose your coach. So you might say, I’d love to be coached by Nelson Mandela, by Martin Luther King, by Marilyn Monroe, by another icon, whoever that icon might be because of technology, it’s able to then take that individual’s voice to break that down into individual phonics and to put that back together. So it sounds to us the human ear that we’re actually speaking to that individual.

0:34:45.2 JP: And of course it’s just a computer script behind that. Now, that script could play out a particular coaching style. So a difference between being coached by Mother Teresa and Genghis Khan. So Genghis Khan might be highly challenging, and Mother Teresa coach might be very empathetic and very listening, and building the relationship. But we could choose the individual or the personality and the style of coach that we wanna be working with, which could be highly motivational for some clients. And that choice, along with the wide repertoire for that, technology’s able to draw upon. So not just the knowledge of one brain, but if that AI script is drawing on a million coaching conversations, that’s more than any coach will ever do in their lifetime.

0:35:33.6 WB: Yes.

0:35:33.7 JP: Then suddenly you’ve got a coach who is gonna be, not only a representation of the individual that their coachee holds in a high regard, it’s gonna be more effective because it’s drawing on a million conversations. And it can be useful entertaining goals, but potentially could also be equally empathetic because it’s learnt that from the scripts of a million coaching conversations between one human and another. So how do human coaches respond in that environment in 10 or 15 or 20 years? How do products that are being developed now keep pace with this rapid change that we’re seeing in the industry? ‘Cause no longer do we have 50 years maybe in a product before there’s a need for a refresh, a new version. We have 50 months.

0:36:22.1 WB: You mentioned earlier about virtual teams, but not in the sense that they don’t exist, but they’re spread around the world. I was just thinking while you were talking there about coaching bots, why couldn’t we have leader bots that could equally lead these diverse teams? Maybe not next year, [chuckle] but why couldn’t that be a reality?

0:36:48.8 JP: Absolutely. Well, in some respects we have that now. And again, the technology is very poor and it’s immensely frustrating. If you phone up a call center, it’s not unusual that the first point of contact is not a human, and you’ll hear a voice and it’ll tell you one for this, two for that, three for the other. It’ll try and answer some basic questions, you know, say what the nature of your problem is and then it tries to analyze what you’ve just said to be able to connect you to the right team. So we’re starting those very basic steps now. And I’m sure that that’s right, that those call handling services, which is a very basic skill because people, 90% of calls are gonna be a similar set, probably a dozen or 15 or 20 problems.

0:37:34.7 JP: So we’ll see that starting to emerge, and over time, that will then move into other areas of the workplace. So it’s conceivable that instead of being managed by an individual, you are managed by a virtual manager. And in fact, your job might actually be undertaken by a AI piece of code that will then enable you to be able to do another job. Because the reality is, even when we’ve seen in the past the nature of working changes, we’ve seen the emergence of a move from, let’s just say craft industries. We’ve seen the emergence then of say, manufacturing of clothing as an example of this. Women predominantly would be sitting at home in their own homes, stitching, specialized industries people working at home. Then we saw the emergence of factories, and then over time we saw industrialization where many of those people in those jobs were replaced by a machine.

0:38:34.9 JP: What we are seeing now is similar machines taking over different types of work and new roles will emerge. What those new roles will look like, what those new jobs will be, at this stage, it’s hard to say just as it’s hard to say whether this is 10 years away or 25 years away. But we’re on that pathway of development where AI, over the coming years, will take over many roles and why not roles that are leaders and managers? But actually maybe when you’ve got a piece of script who’s doing the work, you don’t need a manager or a leader or a supervisor anymore because it’s being followed, it’s a script. And what you need is instead someone to write that script, that piece of code.

0:39:19.0 JP: And that’s where I see one area of significant growth in those people who are involved in the technology industry producing these ideas. Now, the hardest piece of work to replace is of course, innovation because a computer, by its very nature, will follow a code. It will follow instructions that has it’s been given. Yes, there is some learning that’s taking place, but when you look at human creativity, I suspect that that’s the hardest piece of work for a computer to be able to fully take on. And so real true innovation will still come from us as humans, at least in our lifetimes.

0:40:02.1 WB: Is there anything specific in relation to leaders that we haven’t touched on today that you think we should be thinking about as we move forward? Is there anything in leadership practice or related to the disruption from technology that we haven’t looked at today that you think is important?

0:40:23.9 JP: Well, I would finish our conversation with three tips, and these are three tips that I’ve probably used throughout my career. But I think that they are useful for people, leaders, managers, people who are starting out their careers to contemplate how they bring them alive in their own practices. The first of those is about exposing ourselves to new ideas. And increasingly with technology, but this is was also true in 1980 as it is true in 2023, that we often get a limited set of information. We are a member of a professional body and we read the magazine or we read the website, or we read the journals connected to that professional body, that worldview, that lens of looking through the world. We probably watch a particular news channel or subscribing to a particular social media site. The more we like or engage with pieces of content, the more it feeds us the same stuff.

0:41:19.9 JP: So our worldview is narrowing. What we need to do is instead get out and expose ourselves to different ideas, ideas that we won’t agree with, we might find obnoxious, that might be contentious, frustrating, irritating for us to encounter. But as we do, it stimulates our thinking. It makes us think, why do I hold the view that I do? Why does that person believe this set of view about the world or this idea? And this can be in the areas of engineering, technology. It might be in relation to race or faith or diversity. Just getting out of our comfort zone, encountering new ideas, different perspectives. And it could be as simple as when you go to the dentist, why not read the dentist’s monthly newsletter that they send out? It’s sitting there at the dentist. You pick it up instead of reading Home and Hound or whatever you might have naturally picked up, pick up something that’s the least thing you are attracted to in that pile of magazines.

0:42:20.1 JP: When you are looking at the internet now read things that are outside of your comfort zones that challenge your thinking. Talk and meet people who are outside of your circle who are different from you. And seek to understand the assumptions they’re making about the world that lead them to the worldview that they have. So the first of is challenging ourselves. The second one that I would say is about a commitment to continual learning. And as someone who has five degrees, that’s something I’ve reflected in my own career. Keep going back and engaging with new learning and new content. Keep reinventing ourselves. And that learning can be formal and academic, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be simply saying, “I’m gonna download this piece of software, I’m gonna experiment with it.” VR Meet was the example I gave earlier in our conversation that what does that look like in coaching?

0:43:09.8 JP: How could I use this to develop a new strand of work? Maybe I could use VR Meet to be doing team coaching. How would that connect together? Or, I’m not currently on a coaching platform. Maybe I could try this or I’ve not engaged with this aspect of work. Maybe go find out about it. Let me spend six months playing with it like a toy to experiment and understand how it works and how it might serve me and my clients. So continual learning being the third. And the final one that I would say is an encouragement for each person, each of us to start writing a reflective journal. And these reflective journals just build up a wealth of insights for us when we look back at them, maybe at the end of a month or the end of a year, and reflection of capturing what’s going on for us in a day.

0:43:57.4 JP: Not just describing that, not just describing that, but capturing our thoughts, emotions, insights, and maybe ideas that we might have, maybe responses that are going onto a particular topic. And we can then see patterns that emerge. So we are developing a greater understanding of who we are. So this self-awareness aspect, I think is an important part for any leader, anyone who’s successful, understanding who we are is the first step in understanding others. And by understanding ourselves and others, it’s more likely that we can be more impactful, more persuasive, and thus a better leader, a better manager, and a more successful person in the role that we perform at work.

0:44:44.4 WB: Three great insights. Thanks, Jonathan. Where can people find you if they would like to connect with you, if you would like them to connect?

0:44:52.5 JP: I’m always delighted if people reach out to me on LinkedIn. Be very happy to hear from people if they disagree or agree with some of the things that we’ve chatted about on our call today. Or they could check out my website, jonathanpassmore.com, for hundreds of the research papers that I have published, and they can download all of that content for free because I believe in the idea of sharing knowledge that helps others to be the best versions of themselves.

0:45:19.4 WB: I have to say, it’s been an excellent conversation. Extremely interesting. Thank you very much, Jonathan, for coming on to The ET project and for sharing your insights with me, but also with our listeners. Thank you very much.

0:45:31.9 JP: Thank you, Wayne.

0:45:33.9 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on The ET project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at coachingforcompanies.com.

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