Recent research reveals that a systematic approach to executive coaching has a double benefit.
There is some debate as to whom the coach is primarily responsible in executive coaching relationships. Is it the coachee or the organisation, which pays the bill? Who precisely is the client?
Internationally renowned author and consultant, Peter Block, proposes that the whole system is the client and that all parts of it need to be supported, to learn and to be fully informed.
Many executive coaches place the emphasis on the coachee and the outcomes he or she wishes to achieve. Some sponsors of coaching support this approach and do not require any feedback from the process. Other sponsors feel that, as they are paying, they have a right to information.
Marc Kahn, Head of Human Resources and Organisation Development at Investec Bank, is clear that, in his opinion, “it is unacceptable, possibly even unethical, for business to pay for coaching which is failing to deliver business outcomes and for which there is no clear intention for a return on investment.”
Certainly, confidentiality is important to the success of coaching, and ethical coaching practice demands this. At the same time, it is certainly useful for the sponsors (usually the line manager, and often also an Executive or HR lead) to have a way of measuring progress as a result of coaching. Furthermore, coaching provides a unique opportunity for the organisation itself to learn and develop. For these benefits to be realised, certain information regarding the coaching will have to be fed back to the organisation.
The best results will therefore be achieved when a skilled executive coach is able to simultaneously uphold the interests of the coachee, the sponsors, and the organisation as a whole in an ethically responsible way.
Surveys conducted in countries where coaching is well established reveal that purposefully integrating coaching with HR or OD people development strategies results in system-wide learning and measurable benefit for the organisation.*
Sandi Edwards of the American Management Association states, “Organisations need to avoid situations where knowledge is hoarded, activities are compartmentalised, silos are the norm, and people are competitive and motivated only by self-interest.”