ATD Blog

Coaching Works. Here’s Why.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The coaching industry is booming. In the last 10 years, membership of the International Coach Federation (ICF) has more than tripled. Estimates put the number of professional coach practitioners worldwide at more than 50,000 and growing. According to the ICF’s 2016 Global Coaching Study, the annual revenue from coaching is estimated at $2.35 billion. More organizations are using coaches as a key strategy to help develop leadership capabilities and increase the performance and productivity of their employees. Individuals who are coached see the value in working with coaches to help them achieve challenging goals and gain greater satisfaction in work and life.  

How Does Coaching Help? 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to lead effectively in today’s complex and rapidly changing business environment. Employees at all levels are asked to do more and more with less and less and are feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and stressed out. They need help navigating the complicated business landscape and how to handle the pressures from increased demands, high workloads, and the challenges of running cross-functional projects while working on diverse teams. 

Coaching can help by providing much needed support and strategies for not only surviving, but thriving under these difficult circumstances. It is a personalized process that provides clarity on what success would look like, understanding the obstacles and barriers that get in the way of achieving it, and specific action steps to take that will lead to a positive outcome. Through active listening and powerful questioning, a coach will help the coachee maximize their potential and move toward a preferred future.  

What’s Driving the Growth? 


There are many factors driving the explosive growth in coaching. Quite simply, there is evidence that it works. Organizations and individuals are investing in coaching because it is a powerful form of development that leads to change and results. According to the ICF, 86 percent of organizations saw a return on their coaching investment, and 96 percent of those who have been coached said they would repeat the process again. 

There are many tangible and intangible benefits of coaching that lead to these impressive results. Key tangible benefits include increased productivity and performance, reduced costs, growth in revenue and sales, and higher retention and engagement of employees. 

Intangible benefits also enhance the effectiveness of coaching. They include increased confidence of those being coached, improved communication, better relationships with key stakeholders, career advancement, and greater balance between life and work. In my own coaching practice, I have seen 80 percent of clients get promoted or acquire a new or expanded role within a year or less of the coaching engagement. It truly is a win-win for individuals and organizations. 


Why Is It So Powerful? 

A good coach who builds trust and rapport with their client can help the coachee get unstuck, shift their thinking, see new possibilities, try different behaviors, and achieve breakthrough results. Specifically, coaching is most powerful when the following five factors are present during the coaching process: 

  • Awareness: This is about helping the coachee become aware of the key behaviors that either help or hinder their progress and growth. We can’t change what we’re not aware of, so cultivating awareness in the coachee for how they show up and what they can do differently is crucial. 
  • Alignment: Coaching works best when there is alignment with what the coachee wants to work on and what is significant to the organization. It is also important to have buy-in and involvement from a sponsor such as a direct boss or human resources representative, so there is a common understanding of the focus of the coaching as well as internal support for the process. 
  • Action: Creating clear goals and a written action plan will help provide a road map for achieving the vision for the future. The plan also provides a baseline for the current state, pre-coaching, and indicates progress toward the desired state post-coaching. 
  • Accountability: Coaching by design creates the conditions for the coachee to take responsibility for their growth, and provides built-in accountability because the coach will check in on the progress the coachee made toward agreed-upon action items from the last coaching session. 
  • Acceleration: Due to the clarity of goals, support in overcoming obstacles, alignment on the focus of the coaching, a written action plan, and a committed coach that holds the coachee accountable, the pace in which a coachee achieves results is often significantly accelerated. Oftentimes, challenges that a leader has faced for many months or even years that they have been unable to address on their own become resolved much quicker and with better results when a coach is involved. This is the power of coaching in action. 

Take the Next Step 

Interested in learning how you can enhance your coaching skills to make a positive impact on those you work with, and help them achieve their aspirations and goals? Join us for ATD’s Coaching Certificate to improve your ability to help clients develop rapidly, produce better results, and improve others’ ability to set and achieve goals and take action. Learn how to have purposeful, powerful coaching conversations that provide the most value to your clients and organization. Be a part of this growing global trend that delivers real results and is making a difference in the lives of individuals and the organizations they work at.

About the Author

Suzanne Coonan is an Executive Coach and Human Resources leader with more than 20 years’ experience partnering with all levels to lead strategic workplace initiatives and provide solutions that help organizations and individuals achieve results. Formerly a VP of HR at an MBA School, Suzanne is now an executive coach who partners with high-performing, high-achieving leaders to help them reach new heights and find meaning and balance in work and life.  

Suzanne is also a skilled speaker and facilitator on leadership and career development and has presented to hundreds of business leaders at major US and Fortune 500 companies. She has an MS in Positive Organization Development & Change from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor’s in Organizational Behavior from Northwestern University.  Suzanne received advanced coach training from Coach University and is a Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach (SCC).

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