Coaching ROI: Delivering Strategic Value 

{Moseley, 2011. Coaching Roi: Delivering Strategic Value. Employing Executive Coaching in Defense Acquisition.}

Terms, Definitions, Concepts

  1. Mission Manager. A designated individual with responsibility for and authority to accomplish mission objectives for development, production, and sustainment to meet the client’s operational needs. The manager is accountable for credible cost, schedule, and performance reporting to the Milestone Decision Authority.
  2. Coaching ROI. ROI (net benefits divided by investment times hundred) from coaching results in delivering strategic value in which the individual coached produces extraordinary results.
  3. Executive Coaching. One-to-one interaction between an executive with managerial authority and responsibility in an organization and a coach in a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, offering experiential learning that facilitates the executive’s desire to reach specific organizational and individual goals and develop leadership capacity for producing results significantly impacting business outcomes.
  4. Executive Leadership Competencies. Critical individual and organizational skills, abilities, behaviors, and knowledge are essential for the high performance of executive leaders to be successful in leading change, building effective teams, and building strategic stakeholder partnerships on a global scale toward achieving extraordinary business outcomes.

4.1. Leading Change. This competency involves bringing about strategic change, within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals, establish an organizational vision, and implement it in a continuously changing environment. Creativity, innovation, external awareness, flexibility, resilience, strategic thinking, and vision are sub-competencies.

4.2. Leading People. Lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflict. Conflict management, leveraging diversity, developing others, and team building are sub-competencies.

4.3. Results Driven. Meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks. Accountability, customer service, decisiveness, entrepreneurship, problem-solving, and technical credibility are sub-competencies.

4.4 Business Acumen. Manage human, financial, and information resources strategically. Sub-competencies are financial management, human capital management, and technology management.

4.5. Building Coalition. Build coalitions internally and with other organizations, agencies, and authorities to achieve common goals. Sub-competencies are partnering, political savvy, and influencing/negotiating.

4.6. Fundamental Competencies. The attributes that serve as the foundation for success in each competency. Interpersonal skills, oral communication, continual learning, written communication, integrity/honesty, and (public) service motivation.

  1. Leadership Development. A process to improve or increase certain leadership competencies toward more successful personal and organizational outcomes.
  2. Leadership Style. A behavior pattern exhibited by a leader with the intent to influence others.


This Executive Coaching Program aims to deliver strategic value to (company; sector) managers and drive (mission; business; sector; organization) outcomes. Therefore, it should be considered a leadership development option.

Clients and their organizations can expect six business results:

an increase in (a) customer satisfaction; (b) resources; (c) workgroup productivity; (d) organizational efficiency; and (e) personal productivity;

a decrease in (f) cycle time.

These business results are achieved through expected or aimed performance outcomes in personal, interpersonal, technical, and business skills.

Coaching is a comprehensive communication process wherein a coach provides performance feedback on all work-related performance, including personal, interpersonal, technical, or business skills, for the individual to contribute to meaningful personal and organizational goals willingly.

To integrate coaching as a development initiative, it is necessary to determine if the program is delivering strategic value to its clients and if the value is being harnessed to drive mission outcomes.

There are five levels of evaluating coaching effectiveness: reaction, learning, application, business impact, and return on investment (ROI).

A level 5 evaluation provides a deeper understanding of the sources of business value, especially how coaching creates monetary value in your business. This requires work to demonstrate that coaching does and did indeed produce extraordinary monetary benefits that directly impact mission outcomes. This also highlights the intercorrelation between delivering strategic value measured through a coaching ROI and leadership development competencies.

{Strategic Plan –> Section on Enabling Strategy –> Strategic Performance Targets:}

The purpose of the coaching initiative is to (a) improve mission outcomes; (b) catalyze extraordinary leader performance and development; (c) create a culture in the organizational enterprise that values and practices coaching.

Assess the initiative regarding the delivery quality: what worked, what did not work, did the initiative deliver strategic value to its clients, and subsequently impact mission outcomes in the organizations?

Should this executive coaching initiative be a leadership development option within (the organization, the sector)?

What is the ROI of the initiative? How should the ROI be measured? At what leadership level should there be a concentration of executive coaching? What leadership competencies should be the aim of the coaching initiative?

Coaching Format

Client’s Agenda. Our coaching format is focused on getting the results you want. My work is to ensure your agenda is followed. I will help you articulate your dreams, aspirations, and desires, clarify your mission, purpose, and goals, and then move in a direction to help you achieve that outcome.

    1. First, we clarify and arrange logistics about an agreement on the ground rules and administrative procedures.
    2. Discovery phase is a conversation about where clients are, how they got there, what issues are at hand, what blocks them, and what moves them. We use exercises and assessment tools.
    3. Designing the Future. This is where clients describe what they want to achieve or what they want to change.
    4. Orientation to Coaching. A conversation about assumptions and expectations.

Coaching Model. Embedded within the coaching format is a coaching model which includes relationship building in the early stages, followed by action steps toward the end. The action step is used to either convert a coaching discussion into a decision or to implement a particular strategy. The ultimate objective of coaching is the client’s transformation; moving the client toward action is a primary task and one of the coach’s skills.

Example Coaching Model: Five-Step Approach (Hargrove model)

Begin with enrolling leaders in an extraordinary coaching relationship. 

Work with leaders to design an extraordinary future for themselves and their organizations. 

Gather and provide 360-degree feedback to the leaders; if leaders desire a reinvention of their organizations, they must reinvent themselves first. 

Engage leaders in action planning. 

Coach executive effectiveness through monthly follow-ups to gain the status of goals, priorities, and high-leverage actions.

(+) The objective of completing the action step is transforming both the leader and the organization.

Here we have leader and organization transformation explicitly spelled out.

We also have a separate conversation focusing on the scoreboard, connecting coaching with ROI.

A masterful coaching engagement is only complete once extraordinary and tangible bottom-line results exist.

Where is the action step?

GROW model; goal, reality, option, will: W – will this action meet your goal?

Stolzfus LASA model; listen, ask, support, act: A – act.

ICF model: Facilitating learning and results – designing actions.

Dingman model; Formal contracting, Relationship building, Assessment, Getting feedback and reflecting, Goal setting, Implementation and evaluation: Implementation and Evaluation.

Hargrove masterful coaching model: Design an impossible, extraordinary future.

What is the purpose of the action step?

Grow: Convert the discussion into a decision.

LASA: Implement the strategy developed from listening and asking.

ICF: Change the client’s assumptions and perspectives to provoke new ideas and find new possibilities for action.

Dingman: Articulate a clear end date with an interim check-up.

Hargrove: Reinvent self and organization.

What is the objective of completing the action step?

Transformation of the client and the organization.

Coaching and Business Outcomes

Personal outcomes: psychological, spiritual, behavioral, praxiological, somatic, emotional. 

Professional-personal outcomes: skills, competence, mastery. 

Organizational outcomes: relational, cultural. 

Business outcomes: financial, ecological. 

Leadership development is a primary coaching objective.

Executive coaching is a formal engagement with objectives, with a beginning and an end.

Progress is reported to management; short-term up to 6 months, performance-focused with dual client intent concerning the needs of the individual and the organization.

Seeking performance-focused outcomes, the executive coach and the executive client set the goals to be achieved. Goal achievement is left upon the client. A coach is not responsible for a client’s outcome.

An executive coach stands in the client’s future, drawing or pulling out of his client extraordinary results by first requiring the client to articulate her extraordinary future; once articulated, the coach works with the client to determine appropriate actions required to arrive at that future. Next, new behaviors or personal changes must become evident to drive the actions required. Finally, the question becomes what new attitudes the client should adopt to implement the new behaviors.

{Coach Pulls; Extraordinary Future; Actions Required; New Behavior; New Attitude}

Coaching must be linked to business goals, strategy, and outcomes that foster organizational success.

Coaching enhances organizational effectiveness and produces the highest increase in productivity when augmented with training.

The executive coaching experience comprises two primary components: the executive coaching process and the quality of the executive coaching relationship. In addition, executive coaching aims to facilitate the executive’s desired achievement of a mutually identified set of goals.

Discussion and Recommendations

Executive coaching can produce strategic value. You may be able to identify and express the value in monetary terms as a credible financial ROI, or you may not identify a monetary amount. You may attribute and identify the coaching value,  leading to the business results of increased personal productivity, workgroup productivity, customer satisfaction, product quality, resources, stakeholder relationships, and reduced cycle time.

Coaching must be linked to business goals, strategy, and outcomes, or you risk hard work toward goals that do not foster organizational success.

The monetary benefit is a function of, among other factors, identifiable or not,

(a) the quality of the coaching relationship defined by the coach’s interpersonal skills, communication skills, and instrumental support,

(b) the coach’s ability to stimulate the client in new ways of feeling, thinking, and sensing, 

(c) a business-related reason of the client for entering into a coaching relationship; the specific business reasons for entering coaching can be management style, organizational dynamics, change management, strategic planning, or a significant business challenge.

Executive coaching leads to business results; performance improvements which can be directly linked to leadership development competencies and mission outcomes.

Leadership competencies may not be the executive’s coaching objectives, but by-products of coaching; dependent on skill level and other factors, improvement varies for different competencies.

Common themes are leadership competencies of strategic thinking, team building, entrepreneurship, partnering, interpersonal skills, and continual learning.

Leadership is about influence.

Leadership style is about adopting behavior patterns to influence others.

Coaching outcomes involve tangible and intangible benefits, including increased leadership capacity associated with tangible benefits, whether monetary or nonmonetary. 

Competencies incorporate knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes applied through behaviors, which help ensure organizational or mission-critical results and outcomes.

Leadership development implies that leaders develop, increase, or improve certain leadership competencies toward more successful personal and organizational outcomes.

The six competencies become critical in the upper echelon of leadership development, where we have hierarchical categories of “lead organizations and programs” and “lead the institution” (DoD Civilian Leader Development Framework).

Strategic thinking helps executives formulate organizational plans for long-term interests in global environments.

Entrepreneurship helps them position their organizations for future success and improvements in the products and services of their customers.

Strategic thinking is a cognitive process for collecting, interpreting, generating, and evaluating information and ideas that shape an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage. It is seeing ahead, behind, down, below, beside, and beyond and seeing it through.

Strategic thinking supports you in adaptive and intentional change to stay atop of the heap. Entrepreneurship ensures customers reap the benefits.

Team building helps foster trust and inspires team commitment toward achieving organizational goals.

Interpersonal skills assist executives in dealing effectively with whom they lead by treating them courteously and respectfully and responding to their needs.

You may be accountable for cost, schedule, and performance. However, to accomplish the vision and mission of the organization, you, as the manager, inspire and foster teamwork, pride, and trust to motivate team members to accomplish organizational goals.

Problems with interpersonal relationships, such as being insensitive to others, having untrusting relationships, putting one’s ambitions over others, and being critical of others (without constructive support and guidance for their growth, learning or performance improvement, or achievement) may often hinder working well with teams or with others.

You can create desired change with the help of a coach to gain insight, be it reflective, emotional, intuitive, or inspirational, on your relating and the impact you have on people’s behavior and work.

Besides interpersonal relationship problems, executives struggle with failure to meet business objectives, failure to build and lead a team, and inability to change or adapt during a transition; these are the four persistent themes executive surveys reveal as kinds of challenges and struggles of executives.

Partnering helps executives build strategic relationships, networks, and alliances toward achieving organizational goals.

For effective Partnering, align the organization to permit strategic partnering, develop a stakeholder strategy, build trusting relationships, and evaluate relationships to improve them.

Develop a stakeholder plan, describe important stakeholder partners regarding values and organizational cultures, define gaps, and identify future needs.

Regular relationship assessment improves social performance, builds staff and stakeholder support, and increases transparency.

Continual learning says development is paramount in your key leadership role as an executive. Therefore, participate in developing yourself and your team with new cross-cultural competencies to accept cultural differences. The ultimate challenge is to build multicultural, cross-functional teams across organizational boundaries.

To Recap

For what reasons do executives initiate coaching, and with what expectations?

To gain support from a trusting partner; to converse with a strategic thinking partner; to explore their ideas with a sounding board; to resolve a significant business challenge; to gain insight into change management; to engage in strategic planning and change; to enrich their management style; to master organizational dynamics.

Coaching provides focused time to reflect and share ideas; for executives, it becomes lonely at the top since their peers and bosses have their own agenda.

Coaching outcomes: coaching can be expected to produce qualitative and quantitative results and performance improvements associated with (a) monetary or non-monetary tangible benefits, (b) intangible benefits of changes in managers’ behaviors, impacting their leadership styles, and their handling of organizational change and stakeholders, and (c) benefits of increased leadership capacity. Seeing the intangible benefits concerning the impact on organizational effectiveness provides a lens to see their monetary value.

Getting immediate feedback from a coach may be effective in helping clients overcome any behavior gaps holding them back and negatively impacting their personal and professional performance.

Coaching has the most impact and promises the most success with managers in influential positions willing to invest the time in coaching who are clear and intentional in what benefits they expect to achieve.

Use executive coaching as a powerful tool to develop the leadership capacity of your managers toward delivering extraordinary business results in the form of increased customer satisfaction, personal productivity, workgroup productivity, product quality, resources, reduced cost and cycle time, and increased organizational efficiency.

These results happen because executive coaches help their clients with needed personal changes, engage their work teams more effectively, partner more effectively with stakeholders, and serve as strategic thinking partners and sounding boards to generate and act upon great ideas.