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 The Lift Effect takes executives on a ride of a lifetime, using a network of people, experiences and processes to lift leadership performance. 

- Clare Goodman

The Lift Effect Blog

Is coaching still relevant as a way of developing leaders?

Coaching has undergone an amazing surge of popularity in recent years. It is becoming more common to see executives having regular sessions with their coach as they move up the ranks. So how is Coaching helping leaders change and become more effective?

Well there is still a huge lack of significant research in this area, but it will come. Now that the process is becoming more established there are more opportunities for research projects to capture the impact of coaching on the individual, his/her team and the organisation.

In a recent copy of Harvard Business Review – January 09 – there are a series of articles by a number of academics and coaches who are starting to build some research projects.

In an article by Diane Courtu and Carol Kaufmann called ‘What can Coaches do for you?’ they have gathered data on what coaches are really used for within organisations. Their findings showed the major reason for engaging a coach was to develop high potentials or facilitating transition of individuals 48%. Thankfully only 12% of respondents stated that they used coaches to address derailing behaviour, although not stated it would be interesting to see if this has changed over the years as organisations have become more educated and practiced around contracting coaches.

One result that fascinated me was that although 97% of coaches were NOT contracted to work with an individual on personal issues, 76% said that sometime during the coaching process they have worked with clients on personal issues. As coaching focuses on the individual as a whole, it really isn’t surprising that although coaching conversations start off focusing on helping an individual at work, that there are parallels in his/her private life.

David Peterson in ‘Does your Coach give you Value for Money?’ touches on the thorny issue of evaluating the success of coaching interventions. In his research 70% of coaches surveyed say they provide qualitative feedback to the organisation, less than 33% give quantitative feedback on behavioural shifts. With Coaching becoming more popular as an intervention and the cost of the investment increasing (rates stretch from $200/hr upwards) then there may be a greater demand for the coach to measure or prove their worth.

In Anne Scoular’s article “How do you pick a Coach?” she outlined that chemistry and fit was the most frequently cited reason for choosing a particular coach. With accreditation bodies still developing credibility Scoular found that the best credential is a satisfied client, so a demonstrable track record is an important part of the selection process of coaches.

There is no doubt that research is badly needed on the use of coaching to develop leaders. How would you measure the impact of coaching on individuals in your business? How can we measure outcomes? Or maybe we shouldn’t even try and just work with our gut feel which is that some executives can grow significantly though the use of the coaching process? What do you think?

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