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Executive and Leadership Coaching That Works – A Case Study

In the dynamic landscape of modern leadership, where the pursuit of excellence is paramount, executive coaching has emerged as a transformative force propelling individuals and organizations toward unparalleled success. As the corporate world navigates through unprecedented challenges, the efficacy of executive coaching stands as a beacon of innovation, guiding leaders to unlock their full potential.

Even though executive and leadership coaching has been around for the last 30 years and has grown exponentially in popularity in the past 10 years, there are still some who aren’t sold on its benefits. I still hear from some who claim that the results aren’t tangible and there is no meaningful way to measure the efficacy.

Is coaching effective? A Havard Business Review reported a study that showed 86% of the participants reported they had become more effective leaders. An ICF (International Coach Federation) global study found a correlation between coaching and productivity with 67% of the participants reporting increased productivity.

While both of those studies cite improvement they are notable that the improvement is “self-reported” which could lead some people to still question how this improvement could be measured and is it truly valid.

At The UnCommon Leadership Institute, when we are conducting executive and leadership coaching, we deploy a measurement methodology that is used by the NeuroLeadership Institute. NLI utilizes a 1 to 10 scale versus the standard Likert scale of 1 to 5. When we work with a leader, one strategy is to find the competencies that will drive the results the leader and their organization are looking for that are meaningful. Once those competencies have been determined we ask the participant to self-rate each of the competencies for their level of expertise on a 1 to 10 basis. 1 means we are starting at virtually no skill at all and a 10 means we should pick a different competency! A 5 rating would mean there is some measure of competency but still much room for growth.

In a recent executive coaching engagement, the C level executive chose 3 competencies to work on with their coach: 1) Comfortable Taking Calculated Risks, 2) Bias for Thoughtful Action, and 3) Constructively Tough-Minded.

At the beginning she rated herself a 5, 4 and a 6 respectively for each competency for our starting point. We conducted an evaluation at the half-way point and saw measurable success in 2 of the competencies but no growth in one. That allowed the coach and the coachee to know the area of focus for the remainder of the engagement. That focus produced the following self-ratings at the end of the 7 months.

  • Comfortable Taking Calculated Risks – starting rating 5 – final rating 9 = an 80% growth rate

  • Bias for Thoughtful Action – starting rating of 4 – final rating of 8 = a 100% growth rate
  • Constructively Tough-Minded – starting rating of 6 – final rating of 9 = a 50% growth rate


The overall efficacy of the coaching program was a 76% growth rate in the areas that the participant and her boss had deemed were vital for her new role. One of the key points to this case study is that the leader’s manager was involved in determining the areas of focus and validated the self-ratings in the beginning and in the end. This is important to note as it removes the argument of biases and a person’s inability to rate themselves effectively and properly.

As our exploration of the efficacy of coaching draws to a close, it is clear that coaching is not merely a professional enhancement; it is the catalyst for profound personal and organizational transformation and its success can be measured. By unlocking the full potential of leaders, coaching not only ensures the success of individuals but also fortifies the very foundation upon which thriving organizations are built. In this case study executive and leadership coaching stand as indispensable tools, carving pathways to success that are not only defined by achievement but sustained and measured by a commitment to excellence, growth, and the enduring pursuit of leadership mastery.

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