The Explosive Growth of Executive Coaching

The Explosive Growth of Executive Coaching

Back in 2004, Stratford Sherman and Alyssa Freas reported in the Harvard Business Review that executive coaching got started in the 1980s, yet still lacked reliable information for screening purposes. Sherman and Freas reported an estimated $1 billion spent on corporate coaching in 2004 and the anticipation that the industry would continue to grow due to the considerable need in executive improvement. A 2012 study released by the International Coach Federation “estimated the industry’s annual revenue at about $2 billion,” according to Frank Kalman of CLO Media.

Despite the recession the executive coaching industry has doubled in eight short years. The attraction is simple: executive coaching prepares new executives to lead and equips established executives to master their own abilities. This potent combination has driven the substantial growth seen in the executive education marketplace.

Back in 2010, Dr. Michael Woodward advocated executive coaching as a way to prepare newly appointed executives for their new leadership roles.  Dr. Woodward described executive promotion as “slightly traumatizing,” and also said, “Companies are hoping to ease this transition by hiring executive coaches to work with newly promoted managers.”

Dr. Woodward also reported Dr. Kenneth Randall, director of executive talent at Banner Health, as saying that “coaching can truly unleash a leader’s hidden potential.” According to Douglas LaBier, tapping this hidden potential involves acquiring “increased self-awareness [and] honest self-knowledge about one’s motives, personality capacities and values,” which is something many executives don’t seem to understand about executive coaching (even today).

Between preparing new executives to lead and developing leadership mastery in existing executives, executive coaching offers substantial gains to businesses and other organizations, especially those that are continuing to push their post-recession comebacks into overdrive.

In 2013, both CLO Media and the Stanford Business School reported results from two independent studies that indicated the following:

  • A fraction of businesses were currently investing in coaching
  • CEOs want executive coaching
  • There is an increasingly growing number of businesses that plan to start engaging in executive coaching programs

As Dr. Woodward reported, “There is no doubt that executive coaching has become mainstream in major domestic companies.”  There is little reason to wonder why. The recession showed all too clearly the damage poor executive decisions can do. Evidence suggests that executive coaching improves executive decision making, with the assumption being that improved executive decision making will lead to better organizational performance.  At the very least, a great coach can help executives recognize and avoid devastating blunders by helping them unleash the leader within.