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The Impact of Coaching on Leadership

by Tracy Duberman

The Impact of Coaching on Leadership

As the business environment becomes increasingly complex, executive coaching has gained popularity as an effective method for talent development. This is quite a departure from the past when coaching was viewed as a remedial means of fixing behavioral problems. A growing number of organizations are shifting their perspective as they begin to realize the positive impact of coaching on leadership performance. Executive coaching is a targeted way to significantly impact individual growth and organizational success. The ROI for the organization includes better engagement and productivity, higher profitability and reduction in costs.1 Coaching also builds a leader’s emotional intelligence, a key driver of performance, and strengthens alignment with the organization’s mission and values.

The purpose of executive coaching is to accelerate individual, team and business performance. Coaching enables organizations to transform strategy into reality through exceptional leadership performance. According to Harvard Business Review, “The goal of coaching is the goal of good management: to make the most of an organization’s valuable resources.”2 Coaches work with executives in a number of ways, such as transitioning into a new role, filling development gaps, or building competencies necessary for on-the-job performance.3 Executive coaching is beneficial for the organization as well. When organizations undergo growth or change, coaching helps the organization adapt to these changes by enabling executives to understand and demonstrate new behaviors identified as a determinant of future success. Coaching also serves as a valuable succession planning tool to strengthen the capabilities of high-potential employees as they make the shift into a new position.

Coaching continues to gain traction given its impressive results including the following:

  • 22% productivity increase using management training alone compared to an 88% increase when executive coaching was used to supplement the training4
  • One-hundred executives from Fortune 1000 companies who had received executive coaching reported improvements in the following: 5
    • Working relationships with direct reports (reported by 77%), immediate supervisors (71%), peers (63%) and clients (37%)
    • Retention of executives who received coaching (32%)
    • Teamwork (67%)
    • Job satisfaction (61%)
    • Productivity (53%)
    • Cost reductions (23 percent)
    • Bottom-line profitability (22%)

Executive coaching is now fairly common in large corporations and is becoming more prevalent in health systems, especially for physician leaders. Given the changes in the healthcare landscape and the challenges that lie ahead, there is a great sense of urgency to identify and develop physician leaders who can effectively position their organizations for success. While physicians are trained to provide effective clinical care, they now must demonstrate key leadership skills such as teamwork and collaboration, emotional intelligence, and resiliency to be successful. Coaching aids in the transition from physician to physician executive by targeting the development of specific leadership competencies required for success.

The success of a coaching engagement is contingent upon several key factors. Most importantly, the executive must be motivated to improve. Without a strong client commitment, the coaching process will often be met with resistance. It is important to select a coach who has strong experience and a clear evidence-based methodology for developing performance and measuring successful outcomes. Also, there must be a good “fit” between the coach and the coachee so he/she feels comfortable and can trust the coach. Other critical success factors include sponsor support and coaching in the context of the organization. Ideally, the coachee’s sponsor/supervisor and HR business partner should agree to the goals and be engaged in check point meetings to review progress and ensure support.

Executive coaching has demonstrated positive outcomes for both the individual being coached and the organization at large. Coaching helps organizations to stay competitive in the marketplace by helping to groom talent to realize its full potential. The benefits of coaching also cascade through the organization as it impacts all of the coachees’ relationships and interactions and the return on investment is significant. Needless to say, executive coaching is a key mechanism to position organizations and their leaders for growth and success.



  1. Horn, M., Elliott, L., & Forbringer, L. R. (2010). Making a case for coaching. Physician Executive Journal, Nov/Dec, 50-53
  2. Waldroop, J. & Butler, T. (1996). The executive as coach. Harvard Business Review, Nov/Dec.Retrieved from https://hbr.org/1996/11/the-executive-as-coach
  3. Coutu, D., & Kauffman, C. (2009). The realities of executive coaching. Harvard Business Review, 87(1), 6-7
  4. Olivero G, Bane KD, and Kopelman RE. Executive coaching as a transfer of training tool: Effects on productivity in a public agency. Public Personnel Management, Winter, 126, 4, 1997, 461- 469
  5. McGovern J, LIndemann M, Vergara M, Murphy S, Barker L and Warrenfeltz R. Maximizing the impact of executive coaching: Behavioral change, organizational outcomes, and return on investment. The Manchester Review, 6, 1, 2001
Tracy Duberman

Written by Tracy Duberman