Over the last 10 days, I have been fortunate enough to have run a series of leadership workshops in Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. Three very engaging in-person programs in three very exciting cities. It’s so good to be traveling again and to be able to immerse myself in these different workplace and business cultures.
But just because I have been having some pretty hectic days across a few different time zones, it certainly hasn’t meant that my coaching clients have had to miss out. Well, that’s not 100% true, but I’ll get to that story in a moment.
When I let a handful of my leadership coaching clients know that I would be travelling for two weeks but that it wouldn’t have to disrupt our schedule, once we worked through the logistics of time differences (including the fact that the USA moved their clocks forward for their daylight savings), it was pretty much business as usual. In fact, thanks to all the wonderful technology available today, I was able to meet with a client based in New York from my hotel room in Bangkok (argh the wonderful 12-hour time difference!); a Brisbane-based client from a private meeting room I reserved in a Singapore airport lounge while on a 4-hour lay-over; and a client based in Israel from my hotel room in Kuala Lumpur.
I say it was “pretty much business as usual” because even when I am not training overseas, I always meet with my New York, Brisbane, and Israeli clients virtually (on Zoom) … just at a different time of the day.
The beauty of digital coaching
Strangely enough, it was one of my Sydney-based coaching clients who missed out on his session while I’ve been away.
I’ve been working with Damian for about a year now, and he has always requested face-to-face sessions and has been willing to work around my schedule, so we tend to meet every 4 – 6 weeks whenever I’m in the city. Out of all the coaching clients I have, Damian is one of only two who I meet with in- person. All the others are 100% virtual.
The advantage of digital coaching
When I offered Damian the chance to still meet with me while I was travelling, he said he wasn’t comfortable. His main concerns were that the internet connection might not be stable enough where I would be staying; that he would be too distracted while talking to me on-line; and that we wouldn’t have the same rapport as we normally do face-to-face.
The internet connection across south-east Asia is typically faster than it is in Sydney (just saying!); when I coach anyone remotely, I always insist (whenever possible) that all notifications and any other distractions (such as email, LinkedIn etc) are switched off; and after at least 10 sessions together, I hope that I would have built up sufficient personal connection with Damian that one virtual coaching session wouldn’t break our rapport. Nevertheless, he still chose to forego our March session, so we’ll be meeting again face-to-face after Easter.
After all, I’m not talking about coaching over the phone (although I personally found that very fulfilling many years ago before we all had cameras on our computers and phones!); I’m talking about sitting opposite one another, looking at each other eye to eye, even if the leader and her coach are separated by a screen (and perhaps a few thousand kilometres).
As I was able to demonstrate in co-ordinating my sessions while traveling, virtual coaching clearly allows for greater flexibility in scheduling and location. Digital coaching enables coaches and clients to work from anywhere in the world, making it possible for leaders to access the best coaches who can tailor sessions to suit their specific needs regardless of their physical location.
Online coaching also offers a range of technological tools and resources that can enhance the coaching experience. In fact, while catching up with my client from Israel the other day, we got to a point in our session where we were role-playing in preparation for some particularly difficult conversations he’ll be having in the coming weeks. We were able to record those 25 minutes of the session for him to reflect on later and revisit as a refresher.
The benefit of digital coaching
Asynchronous leadership coaching can also be a flexible and effective way to provide coaching to busy leaders who may not have the time or availability for traditional face-to-face coaching. I was able to suggest this to my client in New York. Given the tricky time zone logistics (and our schedules last week), it wasn’t going to be easy to connect again for a follow-up Zoom session. But we were able to communicate asynchronously (meaning we didn’t interact in real time). However, through a few email exchanges, collaborating in a shared working document, and sending video messages back and forth, we were certainly able to continue to address some of the challenges he was experiencing.
Please note that asynchronous coaching isn’t suitable for all individuals or coaching objectives, as it requires a very high level of self-discipline and motivation on the part of the client. Additionally, coaches must ensure that they establish clear communication methods and expectations to ensure that the coaching relationship remains effective and productive.
For example, after my online sessions, I can record my notes and session summaries, share relevant follow-up material (articles, videos etc), and of course schedule upcoming sessions seamlessly. From a coach’s perspective, despite the separation, I find I can really personalise my coaching sessions.
Digital coaching can also provide valuable data tracking and analysis capabilities, allowing me (as a coach) to track my clients’ progress, monitor their performance and engagement with the coaching program, and better understand their specific needs. This leads to more targeted coaching sessions and more improved outcomes for my clients.
The perks of digital coaching
Virtual or digital coaching has become increasingly popular and has become more prevalent since the Pandemic.
From personal experience, I can honestly say that remote coaching can be a very effective way for leaders to develop their skills and achieve their personal goals. By providing flexibility, convenience, access to top coaches, and valuable data tracking and analysis, virtual coaching can be a compelling alternative to face-to-face coaching. Having said that, it’s important to note that digital coaching won’t replace in-person coaching entirely, since there will always be certain situations where face-to-face is more appropriate or effective.
With this in mind, organisations should find a balance between virtual and face-to-face coaching depending on the specific needs of their leaders. But by leveraging technology, customising coaching programs, and fostering a coaching culture, companies can certainly provide their leaders with virtual coaching and the support they need to succeed in today’s ever-evolving, tech-enabled business environment.
Remember hellomonday provides coaching and support to every leader, prioritising development initiatives that result in long-term sustained learning and change, reinforcing habits through curated learning and impactful face-to-face, remote, virtual, online, and digital coaching.
Almost almost* – Please note, the title of this post is in no way connected to the series of television commercials currently promoting Uber Eats’ new tagline, ‘Get almost almost anything’.