ticipated in a follow-up coaching pro-
gram; the other had not. The study
looked at the goals and self-reported
behavioral changes of both groups. In
addition, those who had follow-up
coaching were asked what it was
about the coaching process that they
believed helped them achieve positive
behavioral change.
The study indicated that even a
minimal coaching program—one
phone conversation a month for three
months with an experienced coach—
offers significant benefits in reinforc-
ing the developmental experience and
producing on-the-job behavioral
change. Although the type of tangi-
ble, bottom-line results organizations
want to see from their leadership
development efforts are not easily
ascertained, the study findings sug-
gest that organizations can maximize
the returns on their investment in
leadership development by imple-
menting a coaching program—even a
basic one. The expectation is that
accomplishing desired changes in
individuals’ leadership behavior will
lead to improved productivity of
work groups, which in turn will
enhance the ability to meet organiza-
tional goals—and this is where finan-
cial impact will be felt.
For leadership development to be
sustained, program participants must
be able to continue the learning
process after returning to their turbu-
lent, real-world environments.
Coaches foster this transition by
helping leaders articulate their goals
and by supporting leaders’ efforts to
achieve those goals.
Individuals who participated in
follow-up coaching differed from
those left on their own in three ways.
First, they tended to be more focused
in forming their developmental goals
and objectives. Second, they were
significantly more successful in
achieving their goals. And third, their
new learning and behavior was more
closely related to their roles as lead-
ers and managers.
Focused and clearly defined goals.
One of the keys to attaining goals is
to set and clearly define a relatively
small, realistically achievable number
in a few key areas. This allows peo-
ple to concentrate their efforts and
not become overwhelmed with the
scope of the behavioral change they
hope to accomplish. When people try
to change their behaviors in too many
areas and ways, the developmental
process may feel more like a behav-
ioral overhaul and consequently a
monumental task. The leaders who
were coached set fewer and more
focused developmental objectives.
Their coaches helped them to be
discriminating in their choice of
goals and to clearly define those
goals. The leaders who were not
coached set more goals, across a
wider variety of areas.
Achieving the goals. From the par-
ticipants’ perspective, at least, the
leaders in the coached group were
more successful in achieving their
goals than were the leaders who
weren’t coached. After the coaching
was completed, participants from each
group were asked to rate the extent to
which they had met the behavioral
objectives they had set. Those who
were coached felt they had attained
their behavioral objectives to a signifi-
cantly greater extent than did the lead-
ers who were not coached.
Pertinent change. One of the most
interesting findings of the study was
that the kinds of behavioral change
experienced by the coached group
were much more related to leadership
than the changes reported by those
who weren’t coached. The coached
participants noted three key areas in
which behavioral change occurred:
their ability to empower others, their
own coaching skills, and their inter-
personal behaviors.
With regard to empowerment, one
participant commented, “I have quit
micromanaging, and I added staff
with the needed expertise to make it
happen.” Strengthened coaching
behaviors included increased use of
support and rewards as well as goal
setting and follow-up. One leader
said, “I make a concerted effort to
praise and reward my people in pub-
lic.” The changes in interpersonal
behaviors took two forms—showing
more thoughtfulness and empathy
toward others, and being more forth-
coming with and accessible to others.
In contrast, the group of individu-
als that didn’t receive coaching
reported significantly more change
related to work-life balance. (Half
mentioned this area, compared with
10 percent of the coached group.)
One participant who didn’t receive
coaching remarked: “Work isn’t
everything. I have put things back in
It’s clear that having an acceptable
work-life balance is important for the
well-being of all employees, includ-
ing leaders. However, improved skills
in empowering others, coaching, and
relating to others are more directly
related to the ability to lead.
The coached leaders placed spe-
cial emphasis on the improvements in
their own coaching skills—almost
three-fourths of them gave examples
of behavioral change in this area,
whereas just 15 percent of the leaders
who weren’t coached said they had
made behavioral changes related to
coaching. So it appears that being on
the receiving end of the coaching
Gina Hernez-Broome is a
senior program associate at
CCL’s campus in Colorado
Springs. She holds a Ph.D.
degree from Colorado State

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