TINE CEO Hanne Refsholt championed coaching in her organisation after experiencing the benefits of Executive Coaching firsthand

Among CEOS and senior executives in organizations of all sizes and across all sectors, the demand for coaching is growing. Nearly 100 percent of North American CEOs who responded to Stanford Graduate School of Business’ 2013 Executive Coaching Survey reported that they welcome the process of receiving coaching or leadership advice. The authors of the Stanford study attribute the growing popularity of Executive Coaching in part to a changing perception of coaching: Whereas coaching was previously seen as remedial, more executives and boards are recognizing the ability of coaching to further enhance the abilities of high performers.

The Case for Coaching
Professional coaching brings many benefits: fresh perspectives on personal challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness and increased confidence. Individuals who have received coaching attest to these benefits (and more!) firsthand. According to the 2009 ICF Global Coaching Client Study, coaching clients reported positive impacts on several areas of their professional and personal lives, including:

  • Self-esteem/self-confidence (80 percent)
  • Interpersonal relationships (73 percent)
  •  Communication skills (72 percent)
  •  Work performance (70 percent
  • Work/life balance (67 percent)
  •  Business management (61 percent)
  •  Time management (57 percent)
  • Team effectiveness (51 percent)
  • Virtually all individuals and companies that hire a coach are satisfied with the experience. Ninety-six percent of respondents to the ICF Global Coaching Client Study said they would repeat the process, and a whopping 99 percent of coaching clients reported being “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with the overall experience. This satisfaction is no doubt due in part to the high return on investment in coaching. The vast majority of organizations (86 percent) that responded to the Global Coaching Client Study said they at least made back their investment in coaching.

A Path to Culture Change
The 2013 ICF Organizational Coaching Study illustrates how professional coaching takes hold in organizations. In many cases, ICF research shows, coaching evolves via a trickle-down effect, with a senior leader receiving coaching, experiencing the benefits firsthand and becoming a coaching advocate.

This is what occurred at TINE, a Norwegian dairy cooperative that has included coaching in its talent-development plan for more than a decade and has operated its own internal coaching program since 2005. For many organizations, as coaching takes hold, so does culture change.

In 2002 TINE completed a massive merger, bringing nine dairy companies together under one umbrella. TINE offered all nine companies’ board chairmen and directors access to an external coach to help ease the transition. The next year, TINE offered coaching to participants in a program for upper-level management.

Under TINE’s current CEO, Hanne Refsholt, who began her tenure in 2005, coaching has continued to grow within the organization. Harald Arnesen, an ICF Professional Certified Coach and the head of TINE’s internal coaching program, says that coaching only succeeded at TINE because of senior leaders’ example. “When we started the program, the human resources department introduced coaching to a few members of the top management. Word about this spread within the leadership team, and the CEO [Refsholt] then asked to try coaching herself.” Refsholt quickly became TINE’s most vocal spokesperson for the value of coaching. “She liked the process so much that she continued using a coach,” Arnesen adds.

For many organizations, as coaching takes hold, so does culture change. TINE saw increases in engagement, employee satisfaction and talent retention as a result of coaching. These impacts are consistent with ICF Global Coaching Client Study findings, wherein 72 percent of coaching clients who identified a change in corporate culture as one of their goals for the coaching interaction experienced positive change, while 20 percent of respondents identified culture change as an unanticipated but positive side benefit.

Making a Wise Investment
Hiring an Executive Coach is a significant investment. The ICF recommends that you interview three coaches before you decide on one, asking for at least two references from each.

The ICF’s membership eligibility requirements empower coaching consumers to make an informed purchasing decision. All ICF Members are required to commit to coach-specific training, and they must pledge to uphold ICF’s Code of Ethics. As a result, consumers can have confidence that ICF Member coaches are well-trained and well-prepared to offer their services.

Possession of an ICF Credential further signals a coach’s dedication to education and continuous professional development. More than 10,000 individuals hold an ICF Credential, distinguishing them as consummate professionals who have fulfilled stringent education and experience requirements, including completing coach-specific training, logging a set number of experience hours, and partnering with a Mentor Coach. According to the 2010 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study, clients who partner with ICF-Credentialed coaches are more likely to be satisfied with their coaching experience and more likely to recommend coaching to others. You can begin the search for an ICF-Credentialed coach with the ICF Coach Referral Service (Coachfederation.org/crs), a free, searchable online directory of all ICF Credential-holders.