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Leadership Development and Executive Coaching: Reflections from a Summit

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They believe that there is a deep foundation of the “sacred” in every organization. Leaders are effective when they hold true to the values (and covenant-based TRUST) inherent in the life of any organization. Participants in NECS spoke of exploring this dimension of leadership and organizational life. They wish to enhance their definition of “spirituality” as it relates to the seemingly “secular” matters of running an organization and making a “profit.”

Industrial Requests: What Do They Want?

Small group NECS participants identified a wide variety of requests regarding what mid-21st Century organizations are asking of those teaching in leadership programs and those doing executive coaching. First, leadership training and coaching need to be made more accessible. This might mean providing more modularized, packaged leadership development programs which members of an organization can engage at a convenient time for them and in portions that fit with their own learning style. This might also mean more group coaching and/or the engagement of peers in coaching and mentoring services.

A second request concerns helping “pods” in organizations stay abreast of the volatile environment in which they are all working. A third request concerns the provision of support for and the “seeding” of programs for more members of the organization who could at some point provide situation-appropriate leadership. A fourth request is that more members of the organization should learn how to coach. This is meant not just a way to provide more coaching services to more employees, but also a way to make all engagements of leadership more “coach-like” (regardless of the situation in which the leadership is being requested.)

Benefits of Leadership Development and Executive Coaching

One of the NECS groups identified Return-On-Investment (ROI) as an important adjunct to any leadership development program or executive coaching initiative. It is important for those in the field of executive coaching to not only determine what works best and what is requested by their potential clients, but also demonstrate in tangible terms that the “investment” to be made by their clients offers a reasonable “return.”

I would note that I personally have always supported the engagement of ROI in the field of executive coaching (and other modes of coaching in an organizational setting). I co-edited the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations that offered many articles (and devoted an entire issue) to the critical role played by ROI in this field. As co-curator of the Library of Professional Coaching, I have often published essays on ROI and supported an entire issue of the Future of Coaching that was devoted to this matter.

I indicate my support for ROI in the field of executive coaching because I want to complement this support with my own concerns about the way in which ROI is currently being engaged. I offer several cautionary notes. First, the terms “return” and “investment” can be quite elusive. Do we consider only financial investments, or do we include time spent on a specific coaching initiative?

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