This post has been updated on Reflect & Lead
This might seem like a pretty strange question to ask. For anyone who has worked with a coach for even a few sessions it is highly likely that they will have benefited in a number of different ways. It all depends upon the initial reason for starting to work with a coach, there has to be a start point to any coaching engagement. How that engagement develops and what is focused upon is entirely up to the person being coached.
So what is the role of the coach in all this? Well, the coach is the one who listens, and listens a lot to what is being said and how it is being said. By asking questions, prompting, reminding and maybe bringing to the fore issues that a person isn’t particularly comfortable with the coach is able to assist that person in determining their own way forward.
This might seem pretty straightforward to some and in many ways it is. The questions that often arise are “Why can’t people do this for themselves or work with their boss to do this?“. In an ideal situation the manager acting as a coach would work well and good managers and leaders will use a coaching style as part of their repertoire. At the end of the day, however, managers and leaders do need to focus on business delivery. The culture of the business also needs to allow for managers to adopt a coaching approach and unfortunately this isn’t always the case.
Then there is the business leader or owner. Who do they turn to when they are unsure of things and how to progress? Working with a coach enables them to talk through issues they probably wouldn’t want to within their own businesses.
So what about people doing this for themselves, self-coaching? Perhaps the most disciplined people out there can do this but there is something about building a professional relationship with someone who is non-judgmental but at the same time holds you to account for what you said you aimed to achieve. A coach has no agenda or stake in how things turn out. Managers and potentially internal coaches in large organizations too may not be seen as so objective.
So is it possible to put a figure of the value of coaching, the Return on Investment (ROI)? The direct cause and effect between a coaching engagement and an improved bottom line (which is what everyone is after) is notoriously difficult to prove as it is for any other developmental activity. Those who have benefited from working with a coach often value the experience as priceless and far outweighing the opportunity cost of their time and the fees paid to the coach. A positive ROI for sure.
Remember that coaching engagements can be short term, maybe five or six sessions over a number of weeks or longer term, perhaps 6 months or more. Many business leaders will work with a coach throughout their careers so there must be some value in it.