Is an Executive Coach Worth the Cost?

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Are you a busy executive looking to up your game and take your career to the next level? Or maybe you’re a rising star looking for some guidance on how to navigate the corporate world? If so, executive coaching might be just what you need!

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching is a professional development service that helps high-level executives and leaders improve their skills, knowledge, and performance. It typically involves one-on-one sessions with a trained coach, who helps the client set and achieve specific goals, overcome challenges, and become more effective and successful in their role.

Think of it as a personal trainer for your career. Just like a personal trainer helps you get in shape and reach your fitness goals, an executive coach helps you get in “career shape” and reach your professional goals. And just like a personal trainer pushes you to work harder and do your best, an executive coach holds you accountable and challenges you to think critically so you can make positive changes independently.

The Role of an Executive Coach

As a business leader, you may find yourself navigating uncharted territory as you ascend higher in your career. The complexity and scope of decisions increase, and so does the impact of your decisions. Here is where an executive coach steps in, offering guidance, increasing self-awareness, and helping you master adaptive leadership.

Let’s take a look at five fundamental parts of an executive coach’s role in serving a coachee.

Providing Clarity

An executive coach like Allison Dunn at Deliberate Directions acts as a strategic partner in your journey, empowering you to see the forest from the trees. Just as a guide can help you navigate an expedition, an executive coach helps you gain clarity amidst the complexities of your position.

Boosting Profitability

Making more money and being profitable isn’t the same. An executive coach helps you identify your leverage points and focus on what’s working. That way, you can eliminate distractions that squander your time and other resources. This deliberate approach cultivates profitable, sustainable business growth.

Enabling Freedom

Executive coaching lets you dream big and achieve more by facilitating freedom. An upward trajectory leaves no room for undue apprehensions. To that end, an executive coach should help you shift your attention away from time-wasting activities like micromanagement and move your focus toward more effective leadership. An executive coach should also create strategies to free you from stress and drama, particularly relating to your team.

Bringing Back Vision

An executive coach should clarify or reignite your vision. Over time, it’s not uncommon for the “why” of your business—the reason you began your entrepreneurial journey—to get buried under day-to-day operations. A coach guides you back towards your intended impact, enabling your business to serve as a catalyst for positive change, whether that’s within your local community or on a global scale.

Aligning Behavior

The role of an executive coach is not to direct but to align your personal development needs with the objectives of the organization, creating a confidential and supportive, feedback-rich environment. Through this alignment, leaders can gain valuable insights and develop positive behaviors and habits. This results in consistently better executive performance.

What Does an Executive Coach Do, Exactly?

An executive coach is a trained professional who helps individuals achieve their goals and reach their full potential in their professional lives.

But an executive coach does much more than just provide advice and support. They act as a sounding board, offering a fresh perspective and helping you see things from a different angle. They can also help you develop new skills and strategies for success, and hold you accountable for meeting your goals.

They work with you to identify your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. They help you set clear, actionable goals and develop a plan to achieve them. They also provide feedback and support as you work towards your goals, and help you overcome any challenges that arise.

An executive coach isn’t just a cheerleader. They also challenge you to think critically and push beyond your comfort zone. They may ask tough questions and hold you accountable for your actions, which can be tough but ultimately helps you grow and succeed.

The Benefits of Executive Coaching for Professionals

You may be wondering if executive coaching is worth the time and investment. After all, you’re already juggling a million things. Adding one more task to the list can seem like more work than you have time for.

The truth is, the time spent working with an executive coach can pay for itself in the time you save.

Time Savings

Executive coaching helps executives save time by improving their effectiveness. Imagine communicating, leading, and producing results twice as effectively as you do now.

Same number of hours worked + better leverage of your time = stronger outputs from the time you spend working.

Overcoming Challenges

An executive coach can help uncover and address unresolved challenges that you might not have even realized were holding you back personally and professionally.

More Fulfillment

As a cherry on top, many executives report feeling less stressed and more fulfilled in their personal life after working with an executive coach.

For most of us, a productive career isn’t the end goal. A fulfilling life is the end goal.

The Benefits of Executive Coaching for Organizations

Executive coaching can bring numerous benefits to organizations.

Higher Productivity

Executive coaching helps leaders develop their skills in communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. When a leader sharpens these skills, everyone who works with that leader also gets a meaningful benefit. They enjoy clearer communication that reduces time-consuming mishaps, more thorough problem solving that results in better planning, and more thoughtful decision making that produces better long-term results.

Enhanced Teamwork

Executive coaching helps leaders foster a positive work culture and build strong teams. This leads to stronger collaboration and better quarterly results.

Greater Employee Satisfaction

When leaders become more effective, their direct reports also tend to feel more satisfied with their work. This results in better employee retention.. After all, the number one reason employees leave a company is having a bad boss. Because of this relationship, firms that invest in executive coaching and (by extension) employee satisfaction, can actually stave off the costs associated with training new team members.

How Executive Coaching Is Priced

Most companies hire executive coaches with a specific goal in mind. They typically set a timetable for achieving this goal, and they tie the executive coaching duration directly to this goal.

The Duration of an Executive Coaching Engagement

Coaching can last as long as the client and coach feel it is worthwhile. However, according to a 2018 survey, the average length of time for a typical coaching engagement is 6 months.

To best serve their clients, coaches typically structure their offers as a 6-month contract. Many offer month-to-month, or provide a satisfaction guarantee to ensure clients feel safe with their commitment.

Coaches may structure their offer as a pay-as-you go package, a bundle of sessions, a membership-based fee, or a retainer.

What Is Typically Included with Executive Coaching

A typical month will include:

  • 1 or 2 coaching sessions per month, conducted one-on-one or in a group setting
  • Access to the coach’s exclusive resources, often including video training or recordings of weekly calls
  • Access to email the coach for advice outside of coaching sessions

This type of package is designed to facilitate the type of transformation that clients seek when they hire an executive coach.

The Cost of Executive Coaching

Executive coaching costs range significantly. Typically executive coaches charge $1,000-4,000/month.

What Executive Coaching Costs Per Hour

If you wanted to determine the price per coaching session, you could divide the monthly fee by the number of sessions the coach offers. Some coaches provide 4 sessions a month, while others offer just 1 session a month. So, you could conclude that executive coaching typically costs $250-$4,000/session.

More than half the industry falls under $500/hour, while top-tier coaches charge $500/hour or more.

Keep in mind though that a “per session” price doesn’t reflect the total value that a coach delivers. Most coaches develop or acquire systems, frameworks, training and resources that they share with their clients. Coaching sessions themselves then become one component of an overall coaching engagement. The result you purchase is the transformation the coach can help you achieve.

The Top and Bottom End of the Coaching Market

The full scope of pricing variation in the executive coaching market goes beyond $1,000-4,000/month.

Jay Abraham claims to charge $150,000/day. Meanwhile, it’s not atypical to find coaches on LinkedIn offering executive coaching for $200/hour.

Two Popular Coaching Formats

Many coaches offer one-on-one coaching and/or group coaching. Both formats can work well for different people.

  • One-on-one coaching allows for a more focused, direct relationship that maximizes what you gain from each hour you spend with your executive coach. This format, obviously, costs more.
  • Group coaching allows you to grow partly by working with a group cohort. The coach leads the group in discussing each other’s challenges and deepening each other’s executive skills together. Typically coaches keep group sizes down to 6-10 executives in order to facilitate a close, productive atmosphere.

Factors that Drive Executive Coaching Prices

Executive coaching costs are driven by a number of factors.

  • Coaching Engagement Structure, including the duration, frequency, and format (one-on-one or group coaching)
  • Location: in-person or remote
  • Response Times: Coaches available outside typical business hours, such as nights and weekends, may charge higher rates.
  • Skill Level: Coaches with the best case studies, reviews, books, and media attention command higher rates.
  • Unique Selling Point: Coaches who have a reputation within a particular niche or who offer a specific tool or program are in higher demand.
  • Coaching Experience: Coaches with more experience and credentials typically charge more for their services.

Do your research and shop around to find a coach that fits your budget and meets your needs.

How to Determine if Executive Coaching is Right for You

Executive coaching can be a valuable tool for individuals and organizations looking to improve their leadership skills and achieve their goals. But how do you determine if it’s the right fit for you? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Are you looking to improve specific skills or areas of your leadership? Executive coaching can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a leader and work on specific skills or areas for improvement.
  • Do you want to make a change or achieve a specific goal? Executive coaching can provide the support and guidance you need to make meaningful changes in your personal or professional life.
  • Are you open to feedback and willing to put in the work? Executive coaching requires vulnerability and willingness to accept and act on feedback. If you’re not open to hearing feedback and making changes, then coaches won’t consider you coachable.
  • Can you afford it? Executive coaching is an investment of time and money. So, consider whether you really have the time and you can comfortably afford it.

The Return on Investment of Executive Coaching

It is difficult to provide specific statistics on the return on investment (ROI) of executive coaching, as the effectiveness of coaching depends on numerous factors, including the specific goals of the coaching, the individual being coached, the quality of the relationship, and the resources and support provided to the client.

However, research suggests that executive coaching can have a positive impact on individuals and organizations.

Kenneth P. De Meuse’s Meta Analysis

In 2009, Kenneth P. De Meuse, Guangrong Dai, and Robert J. Lee published a meta analysis on the effectiveness of coaching.

Here are some of their findings:

  • “One case study in a Fortune 500 company reported that coaching produced an ROI of 529%. This figure was boosted to an overall ROI of 788% when including the financial benefits of enhanced employee retention (Anderson, 2001).”
  • “Another study claimed that when calculated conservatively, ROI averaged nearly $100,000 or 5.7 times the organization’s initial investment in coaching (McGovern et al., 2001).”
  • “Wasylyshyn (2003) surveyed executives who had been coached between 1985 and 2001. Of the 87 executives, nearly 47% were ‘positive toward the coaching’ and an additional 29% expressed ‘enthusiastic anticipation of coaching.’ In general, respondents rated coaching effective at improving their skills and performance, particularly in areas related to the coaching objectives. The coaching also was perceived to have a significant impact on some business results (e.g., productivity, business deliverables).”
  • “McGovern, Lindemann, Vergara, Murphy, Barker, and Warrenfeltz (2001) reported that executives realized improvements in productivity, quality, organizational strength, customer service, and shareholder value, realizing an average ROI of almost six times the cost of coaching. Likewise, Parker-Wilkins (2006) and Anderson (2001) estimated an ROI approximating 700% due to coaching.”

The authors acknowledged the limitations of their study: Most of the research involved participants subjectively sharing their opinion on the effectiveness of the coaching they received. On top of that, the research is now two decades old. Still, it’s one of the most frequently cited meta analyses on the ROI of executive coaching, which it pegged at about 600%.

Case Study by MetrixGlobal

MetrixGlobal initiated a study to measure the benefits of executive coaching at a Fortune 500 firm. The author, Merrill C. Anderson, Ph.D., revealed that 77% of participants identified a substantial impact on at least one of nine business variables.

Crucially, the areas that saw the most improvement were overall productivity and employee contentment, which subsequently influenced customer satisfaction, employee engagement, quality of work, annual financial outcomes, and more.

The research concluded that executive coaching yielded an impressive 788% return on investment (ROI).

Manchester, Inc. Survey

Manchester, Inc. conducted a survey of 100 executives, primarily from Fortune 1000 corporations. Their findings showed that an organization’s investment in executive coaching resulted in an average ROI of nearly six times the cost of coaching.

Higher Stock Returns

In their 2004 Harvard Business Review article, “How’s Your Return on People?”, Laurie Bassi and Daniel McMurrer shared that three stock portfolios composed exclusively of companies that heavily invested in employee development outpaced the S&P 500 by 17 – 35% in 2003.

The International Coaching Federation

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) states that in their research, 86% of organizations observed a positive ROI on their coaching initiatives, with 96% of individuals who had an executive coach expressing willingness to repeat the process.

Tangible and intangible elements contributed to these outcomes. Tangible benefits encompassed higher productivity, enhanced employee performance, cost reductions, increased revenue and sales, improved employee retention, and elevated levels of employee engagement.

Intangible outcomes included boosted confidence of those being coached, better communication, and stronger relationships amongst employees, peers, and key stakeholders.

In the IFC’s research, executives noted the following benefits

  • Uplifted executive productivity (noted by 53% of executives)
  • Enhancements in organizational robustness (48%)
  • Improvements in customer service (39%)
  • Higher executive retention rates (32%)
  • Strengthened relationships between direct reports and supervisors (>70%)
  • Enhanced teamwork (67%)
  • Improved peer-to-peer working relationships (63%)
  • Increased job satisfaction (52%)

Of course, these statistics are based on self-reported data and will not represent everyone’s experience. Still, they illustrate how frequently people and organizations find a positive ROI from executive coaching.

Why Some People Don’t Use an Executive Coach

With such compelling numbers, you might wonder: Why not use an executive coach?

It’s a good question, and there are a number of reasons. Rather than leave these unsaid, let’s examine them.

  1. Cost: Many people view executive coaching as expensive. They hesitate to spend money because they’re unsure whether or when they’ll realize a return on their investment.
  2. Skepticism: Some people are skeptical about the effectiveness of business coaching. They question whether it will truly make a difference in their business.
  3. Time: Executives and busy business owners often feel that they don’t have the time to commit to coaching sessions.
  4. Self-doubt: Some executives feel like they don’t need coaching. Or they doubt their ability to improve their business with outside help.
  5. Fear of change: Making changes to a business can be scary, and some business owners know they’ll resist implementing an executive coach’s strategies.
  6. Lack of trust: Some executives hesitate to share sensitive information about their business with a coach, especially if they don’t have an existing relationship.
  7. Prior negative experience: Some people hesitate to use an executive coach because of a negative experience with another coach in the past.
  8. Perception of coaching as a luxury: Some people view coaching as a service that is only for high-end businesses. They may not feel that they deserve a “lavish” expense.
  9. DIY mentality: Some executives feel that they can handle everything on their own or that they need to solve their own problems without outside help.
  10. Lack of clarity: Executives often don’t know what they need help with. Or they may not have a clear idea of what coaching entails and how it will benefit their business.

None of these questions are trivial. If you’re wondering whether an executive coach is worth the cost, it’s worth taking a moment to pinpoint which of these reservations you identify with.

Next, ask yourself whether each perspective is really valid or a self-limiting belief.

If you’re still wrestling with this, don’t hesitate to bring up the specific reservations you noted in a complimentary “discovery call” or “strategy session” with an executive coach who interests you. Chances are, they’ll appreciate your candor and thoughtfulness in bringing your thoughts to the surface for discussion.

Will Executive Coaching Work for Me?

Executive coaching can be a valuable tool for improving your leadership skills, increasing your productivity, and achieving your professional goals.

Here are key factors to think about as you decide if you’re ready for an executive coach.

Clarity on What You Hope to Accomplish

It’s important to be clear about what you want to achieve through coaching.

Do you have specific goals in mind, such as improving your communication skills or increasing your team’s performance?

What does the “end state” look like when your business or business unit is functioning at peak performance?

Your Level of Commitment

Executive coaching requires an investment of money and time.

Are you willing to commit the necessary resources to the coaching process? Are you ready to put in the work to make the most of your coaching experience?

Your Fit with an Executive Coach

It’s important to find an executive coach who is a good fit for your personality and style.

Look for a coach who has experience in your industry. Also, look for someone whose approach aligns with your needs.

An Executive Coach’s Proof of Success

While executive coaching can be effective, it’s important to look for coaches who have a track record of success.

Ask for references or case studies to get a sense of the results that other clients have achieved through coaching.

15 Questions to Ask Yourself to Decide if You Should Hire an Executive Coach

You’ve scrolled to the end of the article, and you’re still wondering: Should I really look for an executive coach? It’s ok, here are 15 questions you can ask yourself to guide your decision making process.

  1. Do you have specific goals you want to achieve through coaching?
  2. Are you willing to commit the time and resources necessary to the coaching process?
  3. Do you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve in your career?
  4. Are you open to receiving feedback and making changes based on that feedback?
  5. Are you struggling with a specific issue or challenge in your career?
  6. Do you feel stuck in your current role or career path?
  7. Do you want to improve your leadership skills or communication skills?
  8. Do you want to increase your productivity or effectiveness?
  9. Do you want to improve your team’s performance or cohesion?
  10. Are you willing to be vulnerable and share personal information with your coach?
  11. Do you want to learn new strategies for managing stress or handling difficult situations?
  12. Do you want to explore new opportunities or paths in your career?
  13. Do you want to build stronger relationships with your team or colleagues?
  14. Do you want to improve your overall satisfaction and well-being in your career?
  15. Do you think that executive coaching could help you achieve your goals and objectives?

If you can answer “yes” to many of these questions, it’s time to decisively move forward with the process of identifying the right coach for you.

Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and see what an executive coach can do for you. You (and your career) won’t regret it.

Meet Allison: Your Potential Executive Coach

Allison Dunn is a seasoned executive coach from Boise, Idaho, with a rich portfolio of helping professionals like you excel in their careers. Her empathetic nature, combined with her deep understanding of the business world, make her uniquely suited to guide you toward your career goals.

She has successfully worked with executives from diverse industries, helping them to not only refine their vision and meet their objectives, but also to thrive in their roles by enhancing their leadership capabilities, communication skills, and overall job satisfaction.

Allison is currently offering a complimentary strategy session to help you determine if executive coaching is the right fit for you.

This no-strings-attached session is a unique opportunity for you to experience firsthand how Allison’s coaching methods can help you address your professional challenges, leverage your strengths, and carve out a path to success.

Don’t hesitate. Take this pivotal step in your career journey by booking your free strategy session today.

It’s time to unlock your potential.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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