The professional development trends to watch in 2020

Gaj Ravichandra and Leila Rezaiguia predict the biggest trends in coaching and L&D in the UAE.

Reading time: 4 minutes

A fading North Star
Many people are feeling lost in their careers. Trying to navigate a VUCA world – an environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – creates a lot of opportunity for confusion and distress.

Feeling lost is perfectly normal. It is a sign that you are evolving as an individual in spirit and mind.

But it also highlights a lack of direction when it comes to your career path, not enough training to perform your job, or the job isn’t what you were expecting it to be – all of this while the demands of the world around us are changing rapidly.

Executive coaching will include more learning centred around carving out a career path and cultivating a ‘dream life’ through challenging current thinking and possibilities.

Fear takes a front seat for women
The key issues facing Arab female leaders in the region are a lack of self-confidence and interpersonal confidence. They often place little value on having an authentic personal brand; and they aren’t visible enough in the local, regional and global business communities.

Women should develop business acumen in their field of work to help boost their confidence in the workplace.

Working with an accredited and certified coach could also help craft a personal brand. Many women underestimate the importance of personal branding in the office, which helps make you more visible to leaders and decision-makers.

Mental toughness factors will become a go-to for executive coaches in this decade

Sharing your key achievements and volunteering to speak at business events is another simple way of being seen, so by working with a coach, you will be much better equipped to do this.

VUCA world gives rise to mental toughness
The concept of ‘mental toughness’ will take off in 2020. Based on the complexity and difficulty with which we all live, there will be more time dedicated as individuals and teams to optimise this mindset focus.

Shifting from ‘mentally sensitive’ to ‘mentally tough’ is the biggest determinant of success for leaders.

It will help leaders deal with issues such as how to correct team dysfunction and improve management skills for the team. Mental toughness factors will become a go-to for executive coaches in this decade.

AI goes mainstream in 2020
Unsurprisingly, the ways in which trainings are facilitated has adapted to accommodate a new generation of workers who are digitally-savvy.

We’re starting to see artificial intelligence adopted in pretty much all businesses, and coaching is no exception.

In 2020, we will see a continuation of eLearning courses being integrated into our development strategies which are more individualised to the learner.

The industry hs been playing around with VR for the last year or so, so this will only become more prevalent as we move into 2020. Training in 2020 must align to the way we learn in a hi-tech world through a more customised approach.

Tunnel vision is key
Employees have many distractions that impact their ability to be productive. A popular approach used in workshops is called ‘activation energy’ and it trains people on how to minimise distractions by making themselves harder to reach.

This means turning off email and phone notifications – and even wifi all together if it’s helpful to you – while you are concentrating on a task.

Expect to see an increase in millennials registering for workshops on innovation, entrepreneurialism and career guidance

Taking ‘time out’ is also critical to reflect and to use the time we have to work on less transactional and more planning objectives.

Helping employees combat distractions and limit social media use during the day (where it’s not your job) to be as productive as possible, will be an ongoing theme in 2020.

Training future entrepreneurs
A rising trend among younger learners is that they are very interested in how they manage their career from a portfolio and fractional perspective, as they can often have a side hustle outside of their main workplace. 

For this younger generation, they are keen to partake in training because the goal is to get the most out of the experience during their short time with the company, with a view to potentially doing something more entrepreneurial later.

In 2020, people are clearly much more willing to work 80 hours a week for themselves, than 40 hours for someone else.



Personal development is of utmost importance to the younger workers so expect to see an increase in millennials registering for workshops on innovation, entrepreneurialism and career guidance.

Developing future Emirati leaders
In 2020, we will see the continuation of government and semi-government entities hand-picking their local talent and offering them one-to-one performance and career coaching programmes.

We have seen these entities choosing people who exhibit leadership skills and competencies, and giving them tailored training designed to drive their career growth, enabling them to become the future leaders of their respective nations.

Building a holistic coaching culture
This is key for individual and organisational performance and success. In 2020, we’ll see a continued demand to develop internal executive coaches at the junior and middle-management levels.

There will also be a continuation of sourcing credible accredited, certified and business-oriented coaches with a proven track record of corporate experience to enhance productivity, maximise performance, and accelerate growth for senior management and C-Suite levels.”  


About the authors

Gaj Ravichandra and Leila Rezaiguia are co-founders of Kompass Consultancy


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