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An ROI Method for Executive Coaching: Have the Client Convince the Coach of the Return on Investment

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Executive coaches must assist leaders as they face those challenges that are personally and emotionally daunting.  In some ways, you know the leader behaviors factor is incomplete until coach and leader identify behaviors that are a stretch for the leader and thus often avoided.  Executives are more willing to face their own leadership challenges when they see how necessary these very behaviors are to achieving specific business results.  Anne showed courage in several areas — to enter uncharted territory for her and her team, the tenacity to stay the course, and the willingness to learn about herself.  Thus, the coaching engagement was satisfying for all involved – the leader, her team, and her coaches.

The Benefit/Cost Ratio: Clarify the Connection

At the end of the contract with your client (or for ongoing projects, at the 8-10 month timeframe) you can review the results for each of the three Key Factors and begin to see the benefit from the coaching endeavor.  First, ask your client for specific measures they did or did not accomplish regarding the business results.  Then return to the team behaviors list — to what extent did the team enact them?  How does the leader know that?  How often and where do they show up?  Lastly, coaches should use the same line of inquiry for the leader behaviors.

A question you can ask repeatedly during this discovery conversation is, “What connection do these behaviors have with reaching your business results?”  As I mentioned before, your job is to be a collaborative skeptic.  You ask questions like a good anthropologist who may have an inkling but who still asks the naive questions.  For example, “How did improved decision-making increase your market share?”  If there truly is a connection, they can tell you, but you may have to continue to ask them to show you the connection from the behavioral factor to the results factor to identify the link.  As a coach, you should keep pursuing the connections until your client has convinced you that there is a link.  In the meantime, they have deepened their own confidence in the links among all three Key Factors.  Let’s review Anne’s situation to see what results she achieved.

Anne’s Results

Anne achieved $244.8 million revenue for the year, which was 10 percent better than the year before.  This is impressive, given that her peers in the region were 6-14 percent lower than Anne in achieving their year’s revenue.  Also, the selling process that Anne’s team designed was not only approved but also incorporated into the corporate planning department.

Anne accomplished all her goals in her own leadership behaviors and those of her team.  They impacted nearly every meeting they had.  In fact, the leader and team factors show unanticipated improvements beyond her expectations.  In addition to meeting the stated goals for team behaviors, they proactively redesigned the staff meeting to improve problem solving. The team continued to hold these meetings when Anne could not be there, and they proactively asked for deadlines.  Anne learned how to aid the team in resolving their issues by referring them back to each other when they avoided interaction by approaching Anne.  Because of her team’s improved effectiveness and her financial results, she received increased support from her boss.

As further evidence that Anne and her team exceeded their behavioral goals, the team received the regional “Team of the Year” Award, and Anne was promoted to another leadership position within the company.  Her new division was rife with challenges, and she brought me in to begin three Key Factors work and the live team coaching process with her new team.  Using the three Key Factors in a whole new area, Anne said, “Now, my second time around, is a whole different story in terms of owning the customization process to create the three Key Factors list for this team, as I have personal experience with the results.  With every coaching session, the three Key Factors felt more real and actionable.  Time and practice are absolute key ingredients for making the three Key Factors come alive, spurring a leader and team into action.”

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