potentialTwo data points that point strongly to the advantage coaching can bring to leaders and organizations were recently cited by a Forbes article (Every Leader Can Benefit from Coaching. Here’s Why by Benjamin Laker, October 2022).

  • Harvard Business Review research concluded that coaching boosts productivity by 44%.
  • The International Coaching Federation’s (ICF) commissioned study reported a median ROI of 788%.

These statistics are dramatic. Yet, hardly surprising to an executive/leader coach. It’s also not a shock to leaders who pursued coaching in their careers or businesses (or daresay, in their personal lives!)
Three questions emerge from the results.
1) What does adept coaching provide that enables transformative results?
2) Why do some people resist pursuing this highly valuable practice?
3) What will qualify an executive coach for specific needs to provide reliable success?

Let’s dive into how and when coaching delivers greater performance and when it’s challenged…

What does adept coaching provide that enables transformative results?

  • Clarity
    Leaders juggle massive amounts of information, priorities, and employee and resource needs. Since gaps in unified organizational focus and working with increasing ambiguity generates excessive confusion and frustration, learning to cut to the chase of what’s most critically important is a key outcome of coaching.
  • Mission Focus
    People at all levels can lose the ‘thread’ in the daily hustle. With neutral, guided re-examination on their critical mission, a leader can then prioritize and define the one thing, the approach, and metrics they will call success.
  • Decision Making
    Often, it’s hard for leaders to make all the decisions needed daily. Out of convenience, easier, simpler, and tactical decisions tend to be prioritized, leaving the bigger and more important decisions for later. Highlighting those key decisions, a coach can spur more rapid investment and results.
  • Accountability
    It’s lonely at the top. Leaders need trusted confidantes in difficult times to brainstorm and hold them accountable. A trusted, objective coach will impartially gather input from relevant individuals in the organization to develop a clear and unbiased perspective and best guide the development of aligned accountability.

Why do some people resist pursuing this highly valuable practice?

  • Habit
    Many leaders feel that they know what they are doing, they’ve been doing it successfully, and their way is the right way. However, in today’s environment, a leader’s ability to break through to practicing agility is crucial. An effective coach will guide a leader to see self-imposed roadblocks and shift the mindset and approaches, infusing agility within the leader who will then spur agile thinking and actions in colleagues.
  • Success
    Most leaders have proven successful track records. However, success yesterday does not guarantee success tomorrow. Unswayed by past results, a coach will facilitate a leader’s discovery of their blindspots (in our experience, many blindspots result in overplayed strength from past success) to enable success going forward.
  • Fear
    It is hard to change, taking new steps in any new direction, even if for the better. Coaches spend most of their time with clients managing fear. Fear is a real thing, cannot be avoided, but can be effectively managed.
  • Discomfort
    Trusted coaching relationships often surface painful and murky truths. These truths stymie future success and typically need resolution. Safely, leaders learn that in key ventures, some pain is typically required to gain and to push through this discomfort to manifest desired success.

What will qualify an executive coach to provide reliable success?

  • Experience
    Diligently search for a coach who has demonstrated successful experience working with other leaders who had similar challenges in comparable organizational complexity. Assess the degree to which you feel you’ve experienced expertise-informed conversations with a coach who will model the talk and respectfully prod individuals out of their comfort zone.
  • Credentials
    ICF certified coaches are considered to carry the global executive coaching industry ‘gold standard’ in training, ethics, experience, and accreditation. ICF issues Associate (60 hrs education + 100+ hrs coaching experience), Professional (125+ hrs education + 500+ hrs coaching experience), and Master (200+ hrs education + 2500 hrs coaching experience) level coaching certifications.
  • Fit
    Trust and confidentiality are the foundation of the coach and client relationship. That said, careful evaluation of the degree to which the values and interpersonal styles of the coach and client align is crucial to ensure a highly successful outcome.

Mounting evidence continues to support coaching as one of the most important investments an organization can make in leaders it values and an individual can make to actualize life dreams.

Gary K. Decker MBA, PCC, CPC, ELI-MP
Executive Coach & Sr. HR, OD, & Change Management Consultant