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March 15, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

What is the return on investment for life and executive coaching?

What value do executive and life coaching provide?

I would suggest a life coach could provide 5 valuable services to clients:

* Life coaching is paying someone to have another perspective and be honest with you.
* Life coaching is having an advocate and encourager to help to achieve everything you want to in life and to reach your highest potential.
* There is certainly a range of quality in the life coaching genre.
* Help provide thinking tools for your brain.
* Encouraging learning, development, and self-reflection–where they are, where they want to be, and how to get there.

In science terms, its like paying to get a trainer for your “elephant.” Here is a quick:

The Elephant and the Rider Metaphor
Jonathan Haidt introduces the Elephant and the Rider metaphor. Dan and Chip write:

“But to us, the duo’s tension is captured best by an analogy used by University of Virginia psychologist, Jonathan Haidt in his wonderful book The Happiness Hypothesis. Haidt syas that our emotional side is the Elephant and our rational side is the rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.”

When Our Elephant Overpowers Our Rider
Sometimes our emotional Elephant wins over our analytical Rider. Dan and Chip write:

“Most of us are all too familiar with situations in which our Elephant overpowers our Rider. You’ve experienced this if you’ve ever slept in, overeaten, dialed up your ex at midnight, procrastinated, tried to quit smoking and failed, skipped the gym, gotten angry and said something you regretted, abandoned your Spanish or piano lessons, refused to speak up in a meeting because you were scared, and so on.”

Change Can Come Easily When Elephants and Riders Move Together
The key to effective change is getting the Elephant and the Rider moving together. Dan and Chip write:

“Changes often fail because the Rider simply can’t keep the Elephant on the road long enough to reach the destination. The Elephant’s hunger for instant gratification is the opposite of the Rider’s strength, which is the ability to think long-term, to plan, to think beyond the moment (all those things that your pet can’t do.)… To make progress toward a goal, whether it’s noble or crass, requires the energy and drive of the Elephant. And this strength is the mirror image of the Rider’s great weakness: spinning his wheels. The Rider tends to overanalyze and over think things… A reluctant Elephant and a wheel-spinning Rider can both ensure nothing changes. But when Elephants and Riders move together, change can come easily.”

Source: Link

Return on Investment and Coaching: The Research
You may also like to read some of this bibliography on coaching–if you do a search you can find a bibliography from 60 pages to 116 pages on coaching as a methodology and practice (I believe they focus on executive coaching) which have been compiled by various professional coaching associations and federations. Or you may prefer to look at data which has been gained from meta-analysis work in the area of coaching. Here is a bit of the data which suggest roughly a 6 to 1 return on investment from coaching: http://startuphappiness.com/coaching-roi/

360 Review Process as an Executive Coaching Methodology:
Its important to note that not all 360 degree review interventions have been successful. My guess is this will improve as organizations get used to using them and coaches better understand how to implement them. Arguably, sometimes toxic feelings or communication is sealed up in an organization, as a general rule its best to have an open and honest company culture. Sometimes the road to a more effective culture and communication patterns may be paved with struggle as better patterns in communication emerge in a phoenix-like fashion. The question, then, is not per se the value of coaching, but a particular coaching intervention or the time frame of value assessment. (its hard to factor in inevitable or external crisis when dealing with volatile issues. For instance, honesty at the table in a peace negotiation may bring deep seeded anger to the table, but at least its out in the open so that moving forward is possible in the first place). To be fair, though, more review of the 360 process may be warranted.

Buyer Beware: Two Quick Caveats on Purchasing Coaching Services:
Ideally, its smart to work with a coach who you can verify has the skills to take you to the next level. You may also want to secure a guarantee based on what you can expect at the end of your coaching experience.

You may also want to check out this article in the New Yorker here

John Wooden, former top basketball coach at UCLA on Coaching for people, not points.

Also interesting is Sue Inquist’s call to action for competitive greatness.

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