Executive Coaching valuable developmental strategy or business fad?

Executive Coaching Popularity

Coaching has now embedded itself as a widespread developmental tool, and is being increasingly used by organisations worldwide. About 70% of the respondent in the 2009 CIPD Learning and Development Survey indicated their organisation was using coaching in some form or other and 72% finding coaching to be an effective tool.

Just look at some of the media comments on Executive coaching:

The Industrial Society says: "Coaching is the art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another."

The Harvard Business Review - "The goal of coaching is the goal of good management - to make the most of an organization’s valuable resources."

CNN.com - "Once used to bolster troubled staffers, coaching now is part of the standard development training for elite executives and talented up-and-comers."

The Wall Street Journal - "The executive says his fears disappeared when his supervisor described the proposed coaching as an opportunity ‘to get some outside points of view on what we do’."

Clearly when used for the right reasons with competent coaches, Executive Coaching can provide significant and lasting benefits for both individuals and organisations.

So how does Executive Coaching work?

Well they say a picture is worth a thousand words so be entertained as you check out this short video for a overview of the coaching process

What is Executive Coaching?

An ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their professional and personal lives International Coach Federation (ICF)

Primarily a short-term intervention aimed at performance improvement or developing a particular competence Clutterbuck (2003)

Executive coaching is an experiential and individualized leader development process that builds a leader’s capability to achieve short- and long-term organizational goals. It is conducted through one on- one and/or group interactions, driven by data from multiple perspectives, and based on mutualtrust and respect. The organization, an executive, and the executive coach work in partnership to achieve maximum impact. The Executive Coaching Forum 2008

Executive Coaching is a helping relationship between a client who has managerial authority and responsibility in an organisation , and an executive coach who has a wide variety of skills, behavioural techniques and methodologies which enable the executive client to improve their performance and effectiveness within their organisation David Rock (2003)

It is: a tailored, one-to-one solution for the specific needs of the individual who has limited time and requires a customised approach likely to focus, with greater depth than other investments, on the individual’s behaviours, personality and learning stylebased in a confidential relationship between the coach and the individual. CIPD

Two factors that should always distinguish executive coaching from other coaching types, :

1. It involves a partnership among executive, coach, and organization.

2. The individual goals of an executive coaching engagement should link back and be aligned to strategic organizational objectives.

The bottom line is that Coaches help facilitate positive change with others.



Read more on Executive coaching

More on finding an Executive Coach here

Why do Organizations Hire Coaches?


• Improve leader’s communication and influencing skills
• Be more proactive and anticipate business problems
• Develop planning and strategic thinking skills
• Be outstanding leaders
• Improve business and political savvy and networking
• To develop creative problem solving skills
• To improve personal productivity and prioritisation
• To build resilience
• To improve business performance and capability
• To develop higher performing teams
• To develop change leadership capabilities.

When might they hire a external coach?


• To work on the above
• Small or fast-growing businesses
• To provide an objective sounding board and a helicopter view
• For an empathetic and trusting viewpoint
• To assist in developmental feedback and planning
• To deal with potential career stoppers and de-railers
• To support career transitions and critical projects
• To accelerate an Executives development.
• To attract, motivate and retain talent
• Developing the skills of ‘valuable’ technical experts
• At times of great organizational change
• Part of a succession planning initiative

What do Coaches do?

Although there is a lack of agreement about precise definitions, there are some core characteristics of coaching activities that are generally agreed on by most coaching professionals:


• It consists of one-to-one developmental discussions.
• It provides people with feedback on both their strengths and weaknesses.
• It is aimed at specific issues/areas.
• It is a short to mid -term activity and time bound
• It is essentially a non-directive form of development.
• It focuses on improving performance and developing/enhancing individuals thinking and skills.
• It is used to address a wide range of issues
• Coaching activities have both organisational and individual goals.
• It assumes that the individual is psychologically healthy
• It works on the premise that clients are self-aware, or can achieve self-awareness.
• It is a skilled activity.

The coach's job is to review and help the leader challenge their thinking and assumptions about how best to deal with people and the strategies for getting things done. Coaches provide a supportive and objective sounding board, challenge and honest feedback.

Coaching assists managers to become more self aware and to take conscious focused action that makes them more effective and maintain peak performance for longer.

"Executive coaches are not for the meek. They're for people who value unambiguous feedback. All coaches have one thing in common; it's that they are ruthlessly results-oriented." FAST COMPANY MAGAZINE


How can CEO's coach their top teams?

The Business Case for Coaching

Is coaching worth the time and investment? Based on the results from repeated CIPD training and development surveys, it would appear so. Two-thirds of respondents to the survey reported that they felt their activities had been ‘effective’ (61%) or ‘very effective’ (6%) in meeting objectives.

This is a positive response and is mirrored by the fact that 99% also felt that ‘coaching can deliver tangible benefits both to individuals and organisations.’

Furthermore, 92% also agreed that ‘when coaching is managed effectively it can have a positive impact on an organisation’s bottom line.'

Several studies have shown that coaching positively influences productivity, quality, customer service and retention of best employees.

Manchester Consulting Inc., aimed at demonstrating the impact of executive coaching (using external coaches) on the organisation’s bottom line. They describe a chain of impact originating in coaching: ‘coaching translates into doing, doing translates into impacting the business, this impact can be quantified and maximised' The study results demonstrated the effectiveness of coaching and estimated an average return on investment of $100,000 for the sample. (McGovern et al 2001).

MetrixGlobal LLC in the USA showed that coaching produced a 529% return on investment alongside significant intangible benefits to the business

Other studies have shown that training can improve performance by 22%. Training accompanied by coaching can improve performance by 88%.



More coaching case studies here.

When Can Executive Coaching Go Wrong?

In the Coach
Insufficient empathy for the client
Lack of expertise or interest in the client’s problems or issues
Underestimation of the severity of the client’s problems or issues
Overreaction to the client
Unresolved disagreements with the client about the coaching
Poor technique (e.g. inaccurate assessment, lack of clarity on coaching contract, poor selection and/or implementation of methods)

In the Client
Coaching may not be appropriate in these examples:
• If the individual has a personal or family crisis..
• If the individual has psychological problems.
• If the individual has a developmental need which is widely shared in the organisation.
• If the individual lacks self-insight.
• If the individual is resistant or closed to coaching..
• If the individual continually engages in socially inappropriate behaviour..
• If the individual sees the coaching as a ‘quick fix’ and doesn't take responsibility for changingtheir behaviour.
• If the individual is leaving the company or retiring.

Questions to consider when assessing an individual’s readiness for coaching


• Does the problem/development area require more in-depth psychological expertise?
• Is the problem/development area personal or work-based?
• Is the individual a willing participant in the coaching?
• Does the individual accept that the coaching requires considerable effort from them for it to be successful? Are they resistant to change?
• Is there another equally effective development option that may be more cost-effective?

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