Yesterday I had the pleasure of coaching senior executives at a Toronto-based high tech company as part of International Coach Week (May 15-21, 2017). With subject matter expertise being table stakes now, executive and business coaching fills a critical role in helping professionals realize their full potential in the complex, fast-paced and ever-changing new world of work. Coaching leverages social, emotional and relationship competencies and as such is the most powerful and efficient leadership and organizational development strategy available today.
The human resource firm, The Hay Group (now Korn Ferry/Hay Group) reported that between 25 and 50% of Fortune 500 Companies use executive coaches to help meet their business goals. Companies including Herman Miller, Google and Shopify proudly report they work with executive coaches to support their leaders and organizations.
Coaching is a professional discipline and set of processes designed to build awareness, accountability and action so that clients can have the greatest impact in their work and life and positively impact their organizations and communities.
Executive coaches act as an objective sounding-board for clients, offer positive challenges to break clients’ limiting beliefs and help to create alignment between the individual coachees goals and the organizations objectives, all of which stimulates positive behavioural change.
Coaching benefits include enhanced:
Even more, coaching has been shown to create positive ripple effects within organizations, impacting a broader network of employees and teams who haven’t directly received coaching. With coaching, the entire organization wins.
Senior leaders who are now being tasked with doing much more with much less are often asking the coaching return-on-investment question. Studies from Booz Allen Hamilton and PriceWaterhouse Cooper have reported the mean financial return-on-investments in the range of 344% and 608% (Merill C. Anderson. The Business Impact of Leadership Coaching at a Professional Services Firm, 2006).
While my coaching practice is grounded in science, client stories and experiences can get lost in the return-on-investment conversations.
Here are a few of the stories that rarely get told.
A healthcare team has spontaneously started acknowledging, “what’s working” at the beginning of each of their team meetings. Team members actively speak out when they observe colleagues offering support. This strengths spotting behaviour replaced active disengagement and passive-aggressive behaviour that had been rampant before I came to work with the team (and the reason I had been called in to coach them).
A social enterprise that voluntarily adopts a company-wide strengths-based performance evaluation that capitalizes on retaining their highly engaged, primarily millennial workforce.
A one-to-one coaching client who calls me to say that he got a job offer from the organization he has been targeting for months, after leaving his previous company on less than good terms.
A small design firm admits that without my coaching intervention they would have walked away from their partnership because of a complete inability to communicate effectively and manage conflict productively. They are now exceeding all their sales targets and having a great time in the process!
I was most struck by a client who recently sent me a handwritten note reminding me why being a coach is so important to me:
“I have moved from what felt like a place of despair to what feels like a place of endless hope and renewal. I can truly say that most days my job is limited only by the scope of my imagination, the courage of my conviction and the strength of the team around me.”
There are times when hard coaching metrics fuel me. And there are other times when a heartfelt note from a client has the greatest meaning.