Coaching for Managers and Leaders

By Craig Juengling, PCC

The coaching profession has clearly matured over the past two decades and demonstrated its value to the companies that employ them as part of leadership development. With the growth of coaching, the profession has become more disciplined about training programs and credentialing of its members. In 1995, the International Coach Federation (ICF) started as a nonprofit organization for fellow coaches to support each other and grow the profession. Today the ICF specifies the competencies and ethics of the profession, and defines the curriculum standards (accreditation), to ensure consistency in coach training, and develops an ICF Credentialing system, requiring renewal every three years. Currently, membership is growing around the world by an average of 500+ members a month and exceeds 20,000. ICF continues to focus on professional standards while positioning the organization more strategically.

The demand for developing employees through coaching has accelerated dramatically since the infancy of the ICF. Surveys among CEOs consistently yield clear concerns about attracting, retaining, developing, and engaging talent for organizational sustainability and success. An employee survey by Taleo Corporation indicates that developing your own pipeline of talent and creating leadership from within to be the most viable strategy for long term sustainability. In fact, by a margin of 5:1, employees have more respect for leaders who have worked their way up through the organization, versus leaders who joined the organization from other outside companies.

Gallup’s recently released “State of the American Manager” indicates much more work needs to be done. According to Gallup, great leaders possess a rare combination of five talents which include motivating their employees, addressing obstacles, driving employee accountability, building trusting relationships, and effective decision making. These sought-after talents exist only in about one in ten managers, yet the correlation between talented leaders and performance is unequivocal, Gallup reports.

Leadership coaching has become a respected means to develop talent. In a recent study independently conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (commissioned by the ICF), 86% of responding companies indicate a positive return on their coaching investment. Well documented areas of improvement include work performance and business management. Individual clients report dramatically improved self-confidence, work relationships and communication skills. Tying these outcomes to the Gallup research on talent is easy to do. Remarkably, 96% of clients surveyed would repeat and recommend the coaching experience again.

The top three reasons to utilize executive coaches are recorded in a study published in the Harvard Business Review. First, coaching is used to develop employees of high potential in an organization or facilitating a transition, such as a new employee or one recently promoted. This use of coaching is about taking a successful employee and expanding their awareness to lead more effectively. Asking provocative questions, setting goals and designing plans for action, leads to reflection and rapid professional growth.

Secondly, coaching is used by many CEOs and high level leaders as a sounding board or trusted advisor who impartially listens, reflects and asks questions the leader’s colleagues may not. A 2012 article in Psychology Today entitled “Why Every CEO Needs a Coach” says it well. “The job of CEO is unique from several perspectives: No one else needs to hear the truth more, and gets it less from employees; no one else is the focus of criticism when things go wrong; no one else is the final decision maker on difficult and often lose-lose decisions; and finally, no one else enjoys the almost hero-celebrity status and rewards.” The objectivity a coach provides is crucial, and the unbiased feedback from the coach to the executive is equally important.

Lastly, coaching is used to address derailing behaviors. Often, amazingly accomplished managers and leaders have behaviors that bring into question their ability to lead effectively long term. Highly noticeable attributes such as hubris, unchecked egos, or lack of self-control can be reflected from leaders who produce extraordinary business results. Less noticeable derailing behaviors that can be addressed in coaching include poor self-confidence, the lack of assertiveness, or limited interpersonal skills.

Want to know more and explore how coaching can improve your performance? How about advancing the performance of the employees you are privileged to lead? Go to the ICF Gulf Coast Chapter’s website at to find the site’s referral service under the drop down menu of Find a Coach. You can locate a local member with the training and education required to be a member. Many people call themselves coaches these days, but very few have the training, education and credentials required of the International Coach Federation.

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