Part 6 – How people see a return on the investment in coaching

When I wrote the content for my coaching web site, I realized it’s a challenge to succinctly capture the value of coaching. It’s a challenge because the reasons people seek coaches are so varied, based on a combination of each client’s personality; deepest-held values and goals; and their situations at work, home, and community. Also, the value of coaching is only partly about monetary tradeoffs.

There are some studies in recent years that suggest coaching offers dramatic results – even direct, financial return on your investment (ROI). 1, 2, 3, 4 Other studies argue that ROI is one necessary, but insufficient measure of the full value of coaching.5 Still others look at the benefits of coaching that are hard to quantify in simple monetary terms.6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Ultimately, the value of coaching is in your perception of it. I’ve provided in this series some of the values I’ve found in coaching – good coaches have helped me with problems from tactical execution to the highest level questions about who I want to be in various aspects of my life:

  • Leading on purpose, with intentionality.
  • Examining habits that no longer served me, and replacing them with new habits.
  • Job searching more effectively.
  • Asserting myself in a way that was most valuable to others.
  • Getting fit instead of talking about getting fit.


So, what would that value look like for you? What is the value that you place on things like:

  • Being able to navigate difficult conversations in ways that lead to successful outcomes?
  • Your peace of mind that your team’s work is getting done (without your micromanaging)?
  • That “Aha!” moment that helps you speak up more in meetings (or speak up less)?
  • Creating the space to think about how your new role is different than your old one, and what adjustments will keep you doing your best work?
  • A team that starts working well together when before it didn’t?


Or, what is the cost to you of the status quo, in terms of your personal well-being and state of mind, your perceived performance levels, or the overall success of your team? What is the cost of not making a change or not increasing your awareness of your role in the world around you? Maybe the cost to you is monetary (you didn’t get the end-of-year raise or bonus that you expected), but maybe it shows up as a lack of engagement in your work or anxiety about the pressure to perform. Maybe it’s missed expectations in your interactions with others, such as your thinking everything is going well only to be blindsided by a negative surprise.

The very personal process of getting from where you are to where you want to go is not exactly a pre-fab car or shirt that I can just show you a picture of and offer a in a couple sizes or colors or trim options. It’s more like a blank canvas waiting for you to start painting.

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  1. Roger Trapp. Successful Organizations Need Leaders At All Levels. Forbes, March 23, 2014.
  2. Mary Detterick and Arren Spence, et al. Improve Rep Performance Through Coaching. Corporate Executive Board, Sales Executive Council, 2008.
  3. Sales Executive Council. Building a First-Line Manager Coaching Program. Corporate Executive Board, 2008.
  4. McGovern, J., Lindemann, M., Vergara, M., Murphy, S., Barker, L. & Warrenfeltz, R. (2001). Maximizing the impact of executive coaching: Behavioral Change, Organizational Outcomes, and Return on Investment. The Manchester Review, 6(1): 6
  5. Anthony M. Grant. ROI is a poor measure of coaching success: towards a more holistic approach using a well-being. Coaching – An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice. Sydney: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. 2012. 1-12.
  6. Kombarakaran, F. A., Yang, J. A., Baker, M. N., & Fernandes, P. B. Executive Coaching: It Works! Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research 60(1): 83. American Psychological Association, 2008.
  7. Jeff Schwartz, Josh Bersin, Bill Pelster, et al. Global Human Capital Trends 2014. Deloitte University Press. 2014.
  8. Michelle Brown et al. A Senior Leader’s Guide to Leader-Led Development: Understanding Your Role in Developing the Next Generation of Leaders. Corporate Executive Board. 2007 Washington, DC.
  9. Douglas LaBier. Why CEOs Don’t Want Executive Coaching. Huffington Post, August 2013. Accessed 4/29/2015
  10. Ray Williams. Why Every CEO Needs a Coach. Psychology Today, August 2012. Accessed 4/29/2015
  11. Gretchen Gavett. Research: What CEOs Really Want from Coaching. Harvard Business Review. August 15, 2013. Accessed May 26, 2015.

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