ATD Blog

How Effective Is Executive Coaching?

Monday, February 10, 2014

A majority of leaders report that executive coaching efforts in their organizations are effective, according to the 9th annual executive coaching survey from Sherpa Executive Coaching. Fifty-eight (58) percent describe results from coaching as “excellent,” and more than 40 percent describe results as “good.” Among HR and training professionals, only 7 percent have seen results they would describe as only “fair,” with a mere 1 percent reporting “poor” results.

A series of nine questions touched on all the benefits that executive coaching is designed to create around openness, empowerment, cooperation, and communication within the organization:

  1. I see communication between every level of management.
  2. Coaching and managing are distinctly defined.
  3. Low-level employees make independent decisions.
  4. People are encouraged to ask questions.
  5. People are allowed and encouraged to challenge management’s judgment.
  6. Our leadership is democratic, not autocratic.
  7. Business behavior is part of daily discussion, along with skills.
  8. People cooperate across department lines.
  9. Confrontation can be a positive thing.

The results on corporate culture are reassuring, and demonstrate a positive corporate culture. Seventy-three (73) percent of respondents say people are encouraged to ask questions, 68 percent see communication between every level of management, and 66 percent see cooperation across department lines.
Even with a majority of respondents reporting positive results from executive coaching, there is room for improvement.  First, almost one-half (44 percent) of respondents answered “sometimes” or “never” when asked whether their leadership is democratic, not autocratic. Only one in eight (12 percent) said their environment was “always” democratic.


The next apparent high ground would be a move from “good” to “excellent,” across the board. According to Sherpa Consulting, the best path to improvement may come from experienced coaches. Coaches in the business for two or less years report 51 percent of coaching results as “good” and 49 percent as “excellent.” Veteran coaches, those in business 15 years or more, report 23 percent of coaching efforts producing “good” results, and 76 percent producing “excellent” outcomes. Bottom line:  veteran coaches see better results.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently sources and authors content for TD Magazine and CTDO, as well as manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs. Contact her at [email protected]

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