This chapter investigates the role of the coach in supporting leaders' career development and performance improvement. As noted in the last chapter, many organizations hire external coaches to help top leaders process their 360-degree feedback. Coaching has really blossomed as a central force in leadership development. There is much less research on the topic than there are “how to” books and materials. Nevertheless, the existing literature outlines many worthwhile ways to approach coaching and enhance its value. This chapter reviews the literature on coaching. It describes the purpose and process of coaching and ways to make coaching more effective. Although the prime focus is external coaches who are hired on a consulting basis to work with top executives, the chapter also discusses how managers at all organizational levels can become effective coaches to their subordinates and peers.
The coaching profession has grown dramatically during the last few years. Tyler (2000) reported the following: Membership in the International Coach Federation, headquartered in Washington, DC, was 2,300 and growing at a rate of 100 members per month. There may be as many as 10,000 professional coaches worldwide. One consulting firm estimated that 59% of organizations now offer coaching or developmental counseling to their managers and executives. Coaches meet with their clients two to four times per month for from 30 to 60 minutes. Coaches use a combination of methods. Ninety-four percent of coaching is conducted by telephone, 45% by e-mail, and 35% in person. From 55% to 70% of clients report the following benefits: enhanced self-awareness, setting better goals, a more balanced life, and lower stress.