Executive coaching is an organisational development tool which, through a series of one-to-one conversations with a specialist coach, facilitates the learning and growth of a workplace leader.
The perception of executive coaching has changed considerably since I started my coaching business almost two decades ago and as the stigma has changed, senior executives have been more willing to step forward and speak about the impact of coaching on the way they work, the way they do business and the way they communicate.
A study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development reported in 2004 that 64% of surveyed organisations had used external coaches with 92% of participants judging the coaching to be ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’. Coaching is often introduced to an organisation as a remedial intervention and of course, coaching can help with organisational issues but coaching is especially powerful and valuable for leaders when:
- A business is going through periods of rapid change
- A business is downsizing
- A business has newly promoted senior managers
- A business is moving to the next level
- A business needs outplacement support
- A business needs returnships support
- A business wants to develop future talent
Since setting up my coaching business, my clients have left jobs, found new jobs, started businesses and expanded existing businesses. They have ended relationships that weren’t working, started new relationships that do work and felt happier in their existing relationships. My clients have been promoted, survived redundancy, improved their relationship with their manager and those they manage. They feel more skilled at working strategically, improved their profile within the organisation they work and reduced their stress levels.
So to me, the answer to “does executive coaching work?” is yes and the more somebody puts in the more they get out of it but you don’t have to take my word for it because there have been multiple studies in recent years which have found that coaching has a significant impact on performance for instance, Grant et al. (2009) revealed that executive coaching substantially enhanced goal attainment, resilience and workplace wellbeing. Similar patterns were found for high school teachers who had coaching (Grant, Green et al., 2010). A separate study concluded that executive coaching is an effective intervention by showing that executive coaching had moderate and positive impacts on individual performance, as well as wellbeing and the ability to cope at work (Theeboom et al. 2014).
One of the key predictors of the effectiveness of executive coaching is the relationship built between the client and the coach. Spending time developing a strong relationship with a client is critical for a successful outcome; both for the coach and the client. My coaching sessions offer a confidential space to help leaders gain clarity on their vision and determine appropriate goals. It is a space which encourages new ways of thinking and creates options and possibilities to address both strategic and operational challenges. That relationship is very important to me and if I feel that the relationship isn’t there, I can recommend other coaches that may be better suited.
Grant, A.M., Curtayne, L. & Burton, G. (2009). Executive coaching enhances goal attainment, resilience and workplace well-being: A randomised controlled study. Journal of Positive Psychology 4(5), 396–407.
Grant, A.M., Green, L.S. & Rynsaardt, J. (2010). Developmental coaching for high school teachers: Executive coaching goes to school. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research 62, 151–168.
Page, Nadine & de Haan, Erik. (2014). Does executive coaching work? The Psychologist 27, 582-587
Theeboom, T., Beersma, B. & van Vianen, A.E. (2014). Does coaching work? A meta-analysis on the effects of coaching on individual level outcomes in an organizational context. Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(1), 1–18.