Executive coaching is a $2 billion industry globally. In fact, more than 70% of formal leadership development programs in organizations include coaching.
Why are organizations willing to invest so heavily in coaching at a time when company resources are under tight scrutiny?
The assumption is that coaching gets results, including:
- better and accelerated learning
- development of critical thinking skills
- improvement in team leadership performance
- sustainable organizational change
- increases in leaders’ self-awareness so they can use their strengths more effectively
Despite many positive benefits expected from coaching, evaluating the effectiveness of coaching can be a challenge. Results from coaching take time to be realized, vary from one coaching engagement to the next, and can be hard to measure. For this reason, measuring results is often neglected. In fact, about 1 in 4 organizations reported that they did not evaluate the effectiveness of coaching at all.
Why Leaders Invest in Coaching
Our approach to coaching is the same for professional coaches and informal leader coaches — the goal is to help leaders be more effective and intentional as individuals and members of teams and organizations.
At its core, the coaching relationship is a connection based on rapport, commitment, and trust.
It can challenge a coachee’s assumptions and biases and help unearth lessons from experiences that can expand their perspective.
Experiences that challenge the coachee create “disequilibrium” and deliver the greatest developmental opportunities. Challenges can include “stretching” to new or different behaviors outside the coachee’s comfort zone, as well as analyzing potential internal or external obstacles that prevent people from moving forward.
Coupled with appropriate support and assessment, the challenge component fosters progress on the coachee’s goals. Together the three elements form what we call a coaching stool.
Good coaches provide support by:
- helping maintain motivation
- ensuring commitment to and clarity about action plans
- holding a coachee accountable for the execution of action plans
- exploring the adequacy of available resources
- being patient with performance declines during the learning process
- encouraging a coachee to seek ongoing feedback about their behavior and its impact
Does Coaching Actually Work?
Given how challenging it can be to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching, some people might question whether it actually works. But we’ve engaged with thousands of leaders around the world, and using the considerable data we have to pull from on the subject, we studied whether coaching delivers on its promises.
We found that people receiving coaching were seen as significantly more effective, satisfied in their jobs and inspiring to others to make an extra effort after being coached, whereas a similar group that did not receive coaching did not make any significant changes in the same time period. Others have found coaching increases goal attainment, well-being and improvement in constructive leadership styles, and improvements in overall leadership effectiveness.
Nearly all coachees (a whopping 98%) said that their coach “provided practical, realistic, and immediately usable input” in addition to helping them “identify specific behaviors that would help me achieve my goals.” And almost all respondents (95%) said that to a moderate or high extent the coaching “was worth the time and effort required.”
We found that 61% of coaching participants and their raters indicated that substantial progress had been made towards their goals, while an additional 11% said the goal had been completed during the coaching period.
Coachees who said their supervisor provided strong support also showed greater progress towards their goals, while 42% of participants who rated supervisor support as “low” still made substantial progress.
Regardless of supervisor support, however, 90% still said they would recommend their coach to a colleague.
What’s more, almost 60% of the ratings indicated that “a significant amount” or “all” progress could be attributed directly to the coaching, and virtually all (99%) said at least “a little” credit for progress should go to the coaching.
To dig deeper into the results and the reasons for executive coaching, read the full white paper below.
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