The Impact Of Coaching Backed By Data Proving Its Value

Coachilly Magazine
10 min readNov 18, 2022
The Impact of Coaching - Coachilly chart based on ICF research study data
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In the modern coaching world of the recent 40+ years, the “traditional coaching client” has been the executive. You may have also heard of a few celebrities working with coaches. In this article, let’s take a look at why coaching has grown in popularity as we look at the impact of coaching and the value it delivers to individuals and organizations when professionally applied.

What used to be accessible and affordable only to an elite group has become mainstream as more coaches have entered the market for non-executive coaching in other niche markets. The push for quality through organizations like the International Coach Federation (ICF), which certifies coaches that follow their rigorous standards further drives the increased trust in the coaching process.

But what exactly is coaching?

Don’t mistake coaching for consulting, mentoring, or career counseling. These disciplines are very different in focus and result. So before we look at the impact of coaching, it’s important that we create clarity about what coaching is and is not.

What Is Coaching?

Let’s begin this definition by contrasting coaching in the workplace with other disciplines often mistaken to be the same or similar.

Coaching is not counseling. Counseling or therapy focuses on pathology. The underlying assumption is that there is a problem with the client that needs to be fixed and the counselor or therapist does the fixing. Coaching, in contrast, considers the client healthy and capable and focuses on forward movement. This shifts the focus from historic analysis and healing to awareness and growth. Counseling focuses predominantly on the past, coaching focuses on the future.

Coaching is not consulting. Consulting puts the consultant front and center. The consultant is the expert who provides solutions or prescribes solutions. The underlying assumption here is that the consultant knows more than the client and thus is superior. The focus in consulting is on the object, not the person. Coaching puts the client at the center. A coach partners with the client to achieve the client’s goals and assumes the client is smart and capable to derive actions her-/himself from the things discovered during a coaching session.

Coaching is not teaching. Teaching puts the teacher at the top and creates unilateral communication. The teacher emits information and the student receives it. While there are “teachable moments” in coaching or adjacent services offered by a coach that include teaching, coaching itself facilitates learning through coaching competencies such as creating awareness, powerful questioning, and other tools.

Coaching is not mentoring. Mentors meet with mentees on an informal basis and usually without a broad focus on personal development. Coaching, in contrast, focuses on specific goals and follows a structured process with measurable results. Mentoring is often indefinite while coaching is set for a limited time frame.

What Types of Coaching Exist?

Life Coaching

All coaching is life coaching in its foundation. The competencies taught in professional coach training prepare coaches with fundamental coaching skills such as active listening, powerful questioning, and creating awareness, just to name a few.

Many life coaches break into niches to address the particular needs of their target groups. The most frequently named specializations are outlined below, but many more exist in an ever-growing profession.

Typically, those who explicitly state they are life coaches focus on areas outside of work in highly specialized areas.

Executive Coaching

Executives spend most of their workdays making decisions of significant impact, providing answers, and processing information from inside and outside the organization. Executives are expected to have answers and this expectation can limit exploration and growth.

Most often, the executive and the coach establish the connection. The request for executive coaching or leadership coaching is also frequently initiated by employers as the paying party, adding a level of complexity in serving two different stakeholders (contractor and service recipient). The overall goal is performance improvement and leadership development, with the client (the executive or emerging leader) defining more specific goals in the personal development plan with her or his coach.

The coach serves as a sounding board, helps with decision-making, uses the coaching process and various methodologies to bring awareness and clarity, and supports the client in creating action plans that achieve the executive’s goals in her/his organization.

Emerging leaders often work on their communication skills, creating their leadership brand, developing their leadership style and executive presence, working toward their long-term career trajectory or upcoming promotion, and developing key leadership skills such as leadership communication and soft skills. To some extent, there is overlap with career coaching, however, executive or leadership coaching has a higher emphasis on talent development than career coaching (more below).

Business Coaching

Business coaching also focuses on helping business owners or business leaders reach their goals. It focuses more specifically on the leader’s goals to grow a business. This is often more hands-on, with adjacent services focused on establishing or growing a business, but can also include elements of the executive niche. Leadership development is often an integral part of the agreement.

Career Coaching

Career coaching focuses on employed professionals, job seekers, or those seeking a job transition in their careers. Adjacent services often include resume writing, interview training, and other job-search or hiring-related services.

This also includes mapping out a career path or creating a career development plan, working on personal growth, and job satisfaction, dealing with challenging situations at work, as well as long-term performance improvement topics.

As mentioned earlier, there is an overlap with executive coaching or leadership coaching when it comes to the talent development aspect. This includes topics of professional growth when a coachee (coaching client) requests coaching to develop important skills required for their continued professional growth. Since the main emphasis of career coaching is on career advancement or transition to a different career, this professional development is often associated with immediate career opportunities or required skills to enable a career transformation.

Wide Range Of Other Niches

A growing list of other coaching specializations exists for other areas, including coaching in health and fitness, relationships, ministry, parenting, and in sub-categories within the above coaching areas. For example, a Career Coach may specialize in a certain industry or focus on a specific career level, pairing their coaching with the teaching of practical skills for a specific profession or industry. An example could be teaching project management or sales skills as specialized career coaching niches.

ICF-aligned coaches follow a proven process, but they tailor each session to the individual needs of their clients and the flow of the conversation to maximize the impact of coaching. A coach holds a client’s agenda and makes sure that they stay on track during the call or meeting to achieve the objective they define for each call. A coach usually asks clients upfront which particular topic they would like to tackle or sends them a brief preparation form.

The Benefits of Coaching

The benefits and tangible impact of coaching have been known by an elite group many for years. Now that coaching has become more widely known and accessible, people from nearly all walks of life have experienced the value of coaching. In 2007, a survey from Clear Coaching Limited (PDF download) confirmed an extensive range of these benefits, including the impact of coaching on people through increased awareness, new or improved skills, better work relationships, ability to see others’ perspectives, clarity in work life, increased motivation, improved atmosphere, increased sales/revenue, and more obtainable goals.

With so much added value and impact of coaching on people and organizations, the coaching market has been consistently expanding as individuals and organizations began to catch on.

The impact of coaching and the importance of staff development in businesses and at the executive level has led to most budgets including a line item specific to coaching for managers, leaders, or strategic planning.

Even Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt, leaders you’d think would already have it all under control, recommend coaching. Coaching in the workplace has found increased popularity as an article by Coachilly Magazine describes, because of the impact of coaching.

As stated by Tracy Sinclair in her June 2020 article, ‘The Growth and Impact of the Coaching Industry’:

“Managers and leaders are using coaching as an integral part of their leadership style. According to the HCI/ICF study, 83% of organizations plan to expand the scope of managers and leaders using coaching techniques over the next five years.

Increasingly, organizations are including coaching training for managers and leaders in their annual budgets.”

This demand for coaching is constantly increasing.

Of course, clients for your specific style and niche of coaching will vary, which is why you need to identify your buyer persona(s). These are the people that are part of your target market and interested in your services because they have the specific needs that you cover (see section 5 where you find a chapter and a worksheet helping you to create a buyer persona).

The better you know your target market, the better you can address them in a way that resonates. This will help you in your social media outreach and may also provide ideas about where your clients “hang out” so you can reach them there as a means of generating leads. Understanding the impact of coaching and articulating it well will help potential clients see the value you can bring, so let’s take a look at the impact of coaching based on studies.

What Is The Measurable Impact Of Coaching?

Let’s look at the impact of coaching based on research. The impact of coaching has often been hard to measure, for example, how do you measure the value of re-gained work-life balance? Luckily, many coaches, industry associations, and companies have realized this dilemma and the need to show the ROI of professional coaching. As a result, we have a lot of ways to show the impact of coaching, specifically in the workplace (source: Zaradigm):

A Fortune 500 company did a study on the ROI of Executive Coaching and found:

  • 77% of respondents stated coaching significantly impacted at least one business measures
  • Overall productivity, employee satisfaction, engagement, and quality improved
  • Overall, Executive Coaching produced a 788% ROI

The benefits of coaching for a team or entire organizations have also been measured:

The Harvard Business Review showed in an article that three stock portfolios comprised exclusively of companies that invest in employee development (such as coaching) had outperformed the S&P 500 by 17–35%.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) reports that “leaders who participated in coaching saw a 50% to 70% increase in work performance, time management, and team effectiveness.” Other studies support these metrics on the impact of coaching further:

  • 6X average ROI on the cost of executive and career coaching
  • 72% improved communication skills
  • 67% improved their work/life balance
  • 53% improved executive productivity
  • 70% enhanced direct report/supervisor relationships
  • 67% improved teamwork

The Transformational Impact Of Coaching

As an article about the popularity of coaching in the workplace states, there is a reason individuals and organizations alike are hiring coaches. If training, workshops, seminars, podcasts, or books had the same transformational power, we would have little need for coaching. But as this Leadership Coach states:

Information isn’t transformation. I’ve spent decades in consulting, and also in training. The transformational impact of coaching is unmatched by other disciplines.

(Corinna Hagen, Leadership Coach)

Did you ever listen to a great speech or training or read a phenomenal book and thought it was life-changing just to find yourself unchanged at the end of the year? This is common and caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Lack of creating a game plan to follow;
  • Lack of support to sort out hidden obstacles, or things you were unaware were hindering your progress;
  • Failure to dedicate time to your transformation;
  • Giving up early after not seeing enough change soon enough, or after a setback;
  • Receiving one-size-fits-all information, not a professional development plan tailored to your own challenges;
  • No help assessing and working through your existing approach, mindset, fears or hesitations, blind spots, relational dynamics, etc.

The International Coach Federation (ICF), the world’s largest authority in this industry, conducted a global consumer study with clients. The chart shows the impact of coaching that clients reported.

For a general impact of coaching on clients, take a look at this chart showing the survey results from an ICF study. Things like increased productivity, confidence, or balance lead the chart in the impact of coaching and the associated benefits.

impact of coaching - Coachilly chart based on ICF research study data

Not mentioned here is overall employee satisfaction. According to the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, executive coaching helps improve performance, satisfaction, and well-being. This is worth mentioning because many studies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the correlation between employee satisfaction and other things impacting organizations, such as employee turnover and productivity.

The impact of coaching programs is often easier to assess and prove for a business coach, leadership coach or executive coach, career coach, or a health coach focused on easily measurable things like weight loss. But any life coach can also show the individual impact of coaching on the client by turning a coachee’s current goals into S.M.A.R.T. goals by creating metrics. This will also allow you as a coach to collect proof over time to show the positive impact of coaching for your clients.

Why Famous People Recommend Coaching

From Bill Gates to Eric Schmidt, leaders you’d think would already have it all recommend coaching. The video summarizes their statements. Eric Schmidt dedicated an entire book to it. He also talks about a few benefits from his point of view it in his interview with Tim Ferris.

Great CEOs know they can get even better, as Eric Schmidt described. That’s because they take on a role no one else has in your circles: they are unbiased, only interested in helping clients achieve their agenda, they have an outside perspective, and they have permission to ask tough questions that help clients to grow. Who else is contending for someone’s agenda without having his or her own?

So, if these big shots have coaches, can everyone get a coach? Most likely. With the growing popularity of coaching and wider awareness of what coaching is and how it helps, anyone can find a coach on coaching marketplaces and other platforms for a rate that matches the level of coaching.



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