Organizations today are experiencing a faster pace and broader scope of change. Faced with a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, the best performing companies are distinguished by the quality of both the functional and leadership talent they attract and retain. Today’s talent demands ongoing feedback and continuous opportunities for self-development.

The complexity and fast pace of change mean that development approaches such as courses and training can’t meet all the needs of an organization. In their place, organizations view coaching as a more impactful way of developing talent to perform at their highest potential.

In addition to classic 1-on-1 coaching for senior leaders, organizations are keen to build a culture where coaching is seen as a crucial skill for successful collaboration on every level.

The growth of the International Coach Federation (ICF) — the largest professional body representing coaching and coaches — from about 8,000 members in 2004 to 30,000 members in 2016 is testimony to this. In 2016, the global total revenue from coaching was estimated to be $2.4 billion, a 19% increase from 4 years earlier.1

The Explosive Growth of Coaching Research

The growth of coaching attracted researchers’ attention.2 From a single peer-reviewed journal, Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 5 peer-reviewed coaching journals were introduced between 2003 and 2008.3 The body of research generated has been voluminous enough to warrant 4 meta-analyses of coaching research,4 comprehensive literature reviews, and large-scale global studies of coaching.5

A review of this body of research points to a focus on various aspects of coaching, such as attributes of the effective coach, client behaviors that impact the effectiveness of their coaching, the importance of the coach/coachee relationship on coaching outcomes, and coaching’s impact on individual and organizational outcomes.6

Coaching Infrastructure: A Crucial Yet Neglected Research Area

In spite of the growth in coaching research, there’s still a dearth of empirical studies examining what organizations can do to create and support their coaching programs. We use the term coaching infrastructure to indicate the various systemic aspects and processes that support the conduct of coaching programs in organizations.

A survey of more than 150 expert coaches found that organizational support — what we call having a coaching infrastructure — was one of the Top 3 determinants of successful coaching interventions.7 However, at least 2 studies found that very few companies have a disciplined approach to managing the coaching process, and most fail to measure outcomes.8, 9

While several studies have argued for the importance of deploying coaching within the organization in a systematic and strategic way, one of them went so far as to say that coaching programs should only be launched if they have the strong support from top management, stating that “unless coaching is applied in a planned and strategic way, it is a waste of time and money.”10

Despite the importance ascribed to organizational support systems, it would appear that many, if not most, organizations fail to create the kind of coaching infrastructure they need to support their coaching programs.

This Study

The ICF-Singapore Chapter and CCL sought to address this lack of research on coaching infrastructure by setting up a joint team of researchers to conduct a 2-phase study. The first phase involved qualitative interviews with a small number of organizations that had coaching programs, exploring what sort of coaching infrastructure existed. A second quantitative phase is planned to conduct a survey of the coaching infrastructure in a wider number of organizations, informed by the results of the first phase. This report shares insights from the first phase of the study.

Based on reviews of the literature and personal experience in coaching, the research team identified a preliminary model consisting of 5 aspects deemed to be necessary for creating a successful coaching infrastructure within an organization.

We then used personal and professional networks to identify 9 organizations with operations in Singapore that have coaching programs. We made no distinction about the level of maturity or the duration for which the coaching programs had been in place.

We held 90-minute interviews with 1 or 2 employees of each company who had either direct responsibility for or sufficient knowledge of the company’s coaching program. During these conversations, we sought to learn about the organizational systems associated with their coaching programs.

The research team analyzed these interviews, looking for patterns, themes, stories, and practices that informed, refined, validated, and expanded our preliminary model.

Click the link below to read the full research report. 


Additional Authors

Hermann Ditzig was president of the IFC Chapter in Singapore in 2016–2017 and has been a professional executive/leadership coach since 2001. He has spent most of his professional life helping leaders be more effective.

He started his career as a researcher working as a medical sociologist in the departments of psychiatry at 2 medical colleges, where he participated in a 5-year study of the incidence of psychopathology in previously undiagnosed organizational populations. Hermann shifted to Organization Design/Development and Leadership after the results of that study showed leadership and organization experiences can have a significant impact on the psychological well-being of organizational members.

Shifting his focus to Organization Science and Leadership, Hermann taught university-level courses in the United States and then in Singapore. He also began working as an OD consultant and corporate leadership trainer, first for Singapore agencies and then as a partner with PA Consulting Group in charge of the Management Development Practice in SEA and as the SVP (Asia) for a PA subsidiary, Cubiks, which focused on developing online psychometric assessment tools and services.

In 2003, Hermann founded LeAD Consulting Group, focusing on Leadership Assessment and Development and Executive Coaching.

Ullrich (Ulli) Silaba has 25+ years of corporate, consulting, and leadership experience on 3 continents. Ulli has been living his passion and honing his skills regarding collaboration, leadership, and culture. He has performed roles in functions like systems development, project management, organizational development, management development, and financial controlling.

Based in Singapore, Ulli’s focus in organizational development and executive coaching is to establish purpose-driven collaboration in intercultural environments in ASEAN and beyond. Linking different perspectives and connecting various concepts to find the most suitable approach for individuals, teams, and organizations, he inspires his clients to successfully handle and even enjoy their intercultural leadership and business challenges while becoming better and more successful versions of themselves.

Ulli holds an MSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from Fridericiana University in Karlsruhe, Germany (now Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), and an Executive Master in Organizational Psychology from INSEAD.

Published: July 2018
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