Official Blog of Center10 Consulting

The Impact Of Coaching

on Thursday, January 30, 2014
In a conversation with a prospective coachee, I landed up looking for a short article I'd written a couple of years ago in trying to introduce executive coaching into a company I had a senior talent role in. Thought I'd share.
In my decades of experience in corporate settings globally, I have found that executives appreciate and buy strategic and functional advice, but often are in deep need of interpersonal, behavioral and executive coaching. I have provided executive and career coaching in formal and informal relationships with my clients, and believe my strong ability to help clients in their planning and goal-setting, raising their awareness through powerful and skillful questioning and building trust by engaging with integrity and candor have helped my clients get to their goals.

Some data points on the Impact of Coaching

The multiplicity of goals that coaching aims to deliver on, in its broadest sense, makes a simple statement of impact difficult to capture. As Alan Levenson of The Center for Organizational Effectiveness pinpoints, statistically valid impact data is complicated. For example, Smither, London, Flautt, Vargas and Kucine (2003) examined the impact of coaching on multi-source feedback ratings (direct reports and supervisors) for 404 senior managers, compared to 957 senior managers who received the same multi-source feedback but no executive coaching. They found that working with an executive coach improved direct report and supervisor ratings, but that the measured change in ratings was small.

JoyMcGovern PhD, however, interviewed 100 executives in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions who had completed their coaching between 1996 and 2000. Participants were asked to quantify the business impacts they had already identified. To eliminate outliers, an upper limit of $1 million was placed on high-end estimates. Next, a series of adjustments was made in order to render the estimates conservative and isolate the ROI component attributable to the coaching, as distinct from other factors. What emerged was a nuanced view of coaching impact on the executive’s performance.

My evolving role as coach
I started my career with seven years in consulting at Katzenbach Partners LLC (KPL), a New York consultancy where I was part of the early start-up team. Given the small team, and the senior clients I was engaging with, I often inadvertently stepped into the role of a process coach, since that was the position of consultative impact I could leverage most easily. By the time I left KPL, I had become the Practice Lead, Outsourcing, specializing in issues dealing with strategy development and managing people and technology in the context of outsourcing and offshoring. I progressed into strategy and innovation roles, where I was often coaching teams to best align their ideas to the corporation and leadership’s vision of the future. I also developed the reputation of being good at helping talented colleagues think about their careers – and easily transitioned to my transformative years as VP of Talent for Pfizer’s pharma business (70,000 employees covered) and then back to VP, Corporate Strategy. In my role of HR head at BlackRock’s sales and marketing organization, I built coaching relationships with executive team members around their interpersonal deficits, and their strategic drive.

In my new consulting firm, I have maintained a small group of coaching clients. My first client was generous enough to email her rolodex with this note, unprompted: Roopa has been my career coach for about a year and I just had time to write this email. Reason for the delay is that I was busy managing my career and climbing the corporate ladder even faster. This all happened with Roopa's guidance.  As my career coach, she guided me to think and behave like an executive which was my main objective. I have been working in the financial services industry for about 16 years and as I moved up the chain, expectations grew.  Roopa taught me how to efficiently and effectively exceed those expectations.  Under her guidance, I applied for an out of state position and got the job. Now I am working for a rapidly growing solar energy company in San Francisco and working directly with C-level executives. Roopa continues to be my career coach and I want to share her with my motivated friends….                    

Why do I coach?

Mostly, it is because I am deeply motivated by helping people make sense of their choices and ensuring they can see ways to evolve, grow and get to a happier place in their lives and careers. The skills I bring to bear include:
  • Planning and goal-setting: My coaching clients have tended to reach out to me for specific support in vision setting and planning – often in helping them broaden their strategic or interpersonal skills and capabilities. I tend to grasps things quickly. I bring disparate information the client brings to bear into a clear picture – walking them through the process of establishing that picture with me, then having them practice that set of skills and methods.  
  • Raising awareness: My SME capability and accountability lies in the strategy setting space. I am highly generative of ideas, including very complex strategic/abstract things that most people can’t think well about 
  • The word integrity will come up quite often – I don’t politick. I’m very transparent in sharing roadblocks and leverage points that helps my client take in and navigate realities.Clients appreciate my powerful, but skillful questioning and demonstrating approach to surfacing their intent and information. I cut through things, I tell it like it is and pull away what might be obscuring a result, get the client focused on, “These things are going on, this is where we need to go.
  • And finally, this is an odd thing to say, I have been told that when I get into an issue or a room, clients feel like, “Here’s a really competent person with good answers.” I combine that with a good range of facilitation skills.
Coaching is a change process, and I certainly have continued to change. I've been working on holding off on adding insights when it's important that the coachee get to their own insight. Working on it!


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