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ATD Blog

Securing Organizational Buy-In for Executive Coaching

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The key to reaping the full benefits of executive coaching is to secure company-wide buy-in and commitment. Here’s how.

Tailor Your Pitch

Executive coaching has different meanings for different people and different organizations. The applications of executive coaching are far-reaching; it’s critical to understand how different organizational stakeholders are likely to reap the greatest benefits. The sales department might be struggling with high costs or low customer satisfaction ratings. On the other hand, the marketing department may be struggling with leadership issues that have given rise to a toxic working environment. It’s important to understand and appreciate how executive coaching might be applicable to different stakeholders. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be able to tailor your pitch to specific stakeholders and more effectively secure buy-in.

Demonstrate the Value of Executive Coaching

Once you’ve developed an understanding of the benefits of executive coaching as they pertain to different parts of your organization, it’s important to communicate the ultimate value—the "So what?" The more stakeholders understand how they can benefit from executive coaching, the more incentivized they’ll be to adopt, implement, and embrace it.

Consider, for example, that the marketing department is struggling with leadership issues among many of its managers. It’s important for stakeholders (the vice president of marketing, the chief marketing officer, and so on) to understand the specific ways executive coaching is able to address and rectify the situation. Explain the purpose and value of relevant executive coaching instruments, including developing human synergy, emotional intelligence training, and assessments such as 5 Dynamics, Myers-Briggs, and HBDI. When the tangible results are readily apparent, stakeholders are more likely to cross the metal chasm preventing them from embracing executive coaching.

Obtain Employee Support

Any skilled salesperson appreciates the value of recruiting "product champions" and proponents as a means of obtaining organizational buy-in and support. Most employees yearn for the opportunity to participate in executive coaching or would like to see their organization implement it. The more effective you are at demonstrating high demand for executive coaching, the more successful you'll be in building a business case for it. It can be beneficial to administer anonymous surveys and polls among employees asking whether they’d like to participate in executive coaching or whether they appreciate its value. Senior management will be less likely to resist change when there is strong demand from their employees.

Calculate ROI

There's nothing like cold, hard numbers to drive home the impact of executive coaching. To effectively calculate the ROI associated with investments, it’s important to clearly outline the objectives. The table below delineates the top 10 competencies of C-suite level leaders that can be addressed by executive coaching. Identify the highest-priority objectives, determine the associated costs, and assign a monetary value to each primary objective.


Competencies of C-Suite Level Leaders

Negative Impact
Positive Impact to Executive and Employees
Positive Impact to Business
Distorted sense of self
Increased awareness of blind spots, enhanced leadership abilities
Increased ability to meet objectives, increased business performance
Interpersonal relationships, listening skills, and empathy
Inability to build and foster a collaborative work environment
Improved relationships with leadership, co-workers, and stakeholders
Increased employee satisfaction, increased retention rates
Inability to affect positive change
Increased levels of motivation, inspiration
Increased business performance
Leading during times of change
Lack of adaptability in times of transition, “change fatigue”
Increased sense of involvement, decreased sense of uncertainty
Increased competitive positioning, increased global positioning, increased financial performance
Communication skills
Confusion, unclear direction
Increased business transparency, reduced conflict
Improved brand image, improved internal/external communication
Motivation and engagement, leading with vision and purpose
Low levels of productivity
Increased felt responsibility, increased engagement levels, increased sense of purpose
Increased productivity
Building effective teams
Misaligned strategy, missed deadlines
Increased opportunities for career advancement, improved workplace culture
Improved product/service quality, shorter time to market
Strategy and strategic thinking
Short-term focus, inconsistent business results
Increased sense of pride
Enhanced long-term planning efforts, more consistent ability to deliver business results that meet/exceed forecasts
Working with uncertainty and ambiguity, decision skills
Low levels of engagement
Decreased levels of absenteeism, decreased stress levels, improved workplace culture
Improved innovation processes, improved risk management
Mentoring relationships, listening skills, empathy
Lack of leadership development opportunities, strained internal and external
Increased opportunities for personal and professional growth
Increased customer loyalty, increased customer service, improved diversity and inclusion efforts

Source: Based on the top 10 coaching topics for C-suite level leaders as outlined by Korn Ferry’s research.

Want to learn more? Check out my new book, The Art of Executive Coaching.

About the Author

Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. is the CEO of On Target Solutions, which provides full-suite contemporary Organization Development Solutions.  Dr. Greiner teaches in masters and doctoral programs, coaches and trains other consultants, and wrote The Art of Executive Coaching.  Since she first served as a CEO at the age of 38, she understands leaders’ experience first-hand.  Nadine Greiner offers her clients the expertise that comes along with 30 years of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology.  She loves animals and Zumba.

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