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Every professional sportsperson recognises the value of coaching if they’re to reach their peak performance, but this is still relatively rare among executives and other professional businesspeople.

However, a number of studies have conclusively shown the massive return on investment (ROI) from executive coaching, such as this one from Ivy Exec which found it to be as high as 788%, while another, ‘Maximizing the Impact of Executive Coaching,’ which surveyed 100 executives, mainly from Fortune 1000 companies determined an average ROI of almost six times the cost of coaching.

And coaching doesn’t have to be restricted to the C-suite, either to reap benefits for the business, and nor should it be. Given that only around a third of workers are considered to be actively engaged in their jobs, and considering the costs associated with replacing staff, particularly in these times, improving engagement alone provides enormous value, and providing coaching is a certain way to do this – employees develop their career prospects, feel more appreciated, and become more productive, all of which leads to greater engagement and retention.

For executives, who often find the adage “It’s lonely at the top” to be only too true, the benefits are even greater. A good executive coach typically:

  • Brings decades of successful experience with new perspectives – they’ve ‘been there, done that’ and are familiar with business challenges such as high inflation and interest rates, supply chain issues, adapting to changing government / industry regulations, and so on.
  • Helps to identify blind spots and sticking points – it’s often hard to recognise these in oneself, or to get unbiased feedback on performance, so having a trusted outsider to do this significantly helps executives’ ongoing personal development.
  • Provides accountability – again, many executives have nobody to hold them accountable, even though the board is supposed to do so for the CEO, and the CEO to their immediate reports. The benefits of a real accountability culture throughout an organisation are clear and the coach can help drive this.
  • Helps address the big picture issues – the combination of experience and an outsider’s fresh perspective means the coach can help the executives focus on what’s important, rather than being trapped in the proverbial hamster wheel of addressing the urgent.
  • Enables executives to achieve their goals faster – the outcome from the use of a suitable coach is that the executives are enabled to reach their goals more quickly, significantly benefitting all stakeholders.

Essentially, a good executive coach is a combination of guide, mentor, and non-executive advisor. They thrive on helping executives reach their potential, personally and for the business, and are committed to lifelong learning, so keeping their executives up to date with business thinking and trends.

So, given that in these troubled times, the benefits of executive coaching are likely to be considerably enhanced, how does one go about finding a suitable coach?

As with any endeavour, it means doing your research.

Firstly, look at what prospective coaches are saying about business and coaching. Do they appear to share your values? What is their level of experience in business, and what is their level of success and of overcoming hurdles? Will their business experience suit what your business is doing and where it wants to go?

Once you’ve drawn up a shortlist of 2-3 possible coaches, meet with them individually for a “chemistry session.”

This will enable you to check whether you both believe you can work together – you’re going to need somebody you feel comfortable with as you will be working closely for a protracted period, recognising that there may be stress between you from time to time when difficult issues are brought to the fore. You will be checking their listening skills, their style, their knowledge and how they approach their clients’ business. Ask about how they set learning outcomes – are they clear, measurable and agreed? How will the measurement process work? Can you trust their confidentiality, and how will this be measured?

And then look, too, at their approach to coaching in terms of what services and diagnostics are included in their normal charges, what these are, and what would be charged as extras?

You should now be in a position to select your coach and get started. Remember, it will be a personal choice for you, so consider this carefully. What’s right for somebody else might not suit you.

And once you have your coach, look to join a peer advisory group, too (sometimes referred to as a mastermind group). This is a forum where a number of non-competing business leaders meet regularly (normally monthly for half a day to a day), chaired by a coach, to discuss and tackle challenges, drawing on the collective wisdom of 10, or so, other executives. Your coach can help you find, or set up, a suitable group. It will really magnify the coaching benefits.

Given the ROI, there really is no reason not to follow the example of top sportspeople and those executive leaders already using coaches. You and your business will benefit.



I work with successful owner-led businesses to enhance their growth, profitability, cash flow and business value.

If you’d like to have a conversation about your business, leadership and executive coaching, book a free 30-minute call with me here. I’d be delighted to talk with you.


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