Coaching: A Global Study of Successful Practices

By American Management Association

Many organizations are chronically concerned that they don’t have the right talent to succeed, and this is especially true in the area of leadership. They view leadership as among the top issues affecting their organizations both today and in the future, yet they’re often dissatisfied with everything from succession planning systems to leadership development programs.

Amid these concerns, coaching has come onto the scene more prominently in recent years. Executive coaching is often viewed with a combination of hope and skepticism. On the one hand, assigning individual employees a coach seems like an excellent way to provide custom-delivered development opportunities to both current and aspiring leaders. On the other hand, coaching is often viewed as a kind of “cottage industry” where credentials are questionable, services are expensive, and success is hard to measure.

To gain a better understanding of both the promise and perils of coaching, American Management Association (AMA) commissioned the Institute for Corporate Productivity to conduct a global survey of coaching practices in today’s organizations. In essence, two survey samples were analyzed: a larger sample made up primarily of North American organizations and a somewhat smaller one made up primarily of organizations located in Europe and the Middle East.

The AMA/Institute for Corporate Productivity team defined coaching in a relatively conventional way as “a short- to medium-term relationship between a manager or senior leader and a consultant (internal or external) with the purpose of improving work performance” (Douglas & McCauley, 1999). We also asked several questions about peer coaching, in which each participant acts as both coach and coachee to a partner. Below are some of the key findings from the study: Finding One: Coaching is used by only about half of today’s companies. In the North American sample, 52% report having such programs in place, and, in the international sample, the proportion is 55%. 


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