In our latest blog, TPC Leadership’s Founder Charles Brook discusses the coaching results you can and should measure to help demonstrate a return on investment (ROI).

How to get coaching results you can measure

There is a growing desire among companies to measure the results of coaching. It’s understandable. After all, the current global leadership development spend is estimated at $31 billion, while the global coaching sector generates revenue estimated at $2 billion. If the ROI is not there, then it is an extravagant waste.

The challenge is that measurable results are external whereas lasting change always originates with the internal. If you hurry to make measurable change occur, you shortcut the process and any results will likewise be short-lived. Inversely, a vision for change without measurable steps may be impossible to translate into day-to-day actions. People might “get it” but not know how to “do it.”

Integrated skills

“The key skill is an integrating skill. When leaders find the wisdom and capacity to sit with all of experience – including being open to what is not wanted – they can sense and shape the system’s intentionality.” – Deborah Rowland

There are three factors that mark the path to change: knowing, doing and being. Knowing is often the first stage, when we gain awareness of a problem and/or a solution.

In Still Moving, Deborah Rowland names eight integrated skills that shift “being” into “doing.” She separates them into inner capabilities:

  1. A capacity to stay present.
  2. A capacity to respond instead of react.
  3. A capacity to perceive the difference between system dynamics and personal transformation.
  4. A capacity to acknowledge difficulties as necessary for transition.

And “outer doing” abilities :

  1. Aligning people behind a shared purpose.
  2. Confronting reality.
  3. Channelling anxiety into purposeful energy.
  4. Spotting and changing repeating patterns as they happen.

These skills are difficult to measure in the traditional sense. But the changes will be noticed by the individual experiencing them and felt by the team around them. Leadership development that places an importance on Rowland’s eight capacities will produce a visible outcome, since these abilities make knowledge actionable. They are soft skills that produce hard results.

The opportunity to act differently

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

It is possible to experience internal change without ever noticing the effects in action. Leadership development programmes should prepare people to actively step beyond their default response to pressure. Personal development plans are essential.

The time to review is after the moment of pressure, once the dust has settled. If someone has reacted according to their old patterns, it doesn’t mean no change has occurred, or that the training was worthless. It means that they need to reflect and continue asking themselves uncomfortable questions. A continued reflective practice will gradually help internal shifts to become visible, measurable change.

Humanising the measurement

The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people. – Tom Peters

Often success is defined as the achievement of measurable aims such as a new product launch, an increase in market share. A failure to hit targets is perceived to be the result of a leader’s incompetence.

However, the failure may be (and probably is) the result of a wider systemic problem. A leader’s capacity may have increased ten-fold over the last year and yet they still deliver an unsuccessful quarter. The true test of their development is not found in a numerical figure but in their handling of failure. How much they have learned from the experience will be a far more accurate indication of growth. Upon reflection, they may be able to provide insights that highlight systemic issues within the company that are hindering financial success. Their unique vantage point should not be dismissed because they were the one “responsible” for the disappointing result.

Supporting the behaviouralisation of insight

Companies and coaches can close the knowing-being-doing gap by putting key structures in place. Ongoing workshops targeting this can help, as can mutual support groups that help leadership development feel like a co-operative effort. Tools like the Everskill app can aid personal development plans by prompting a person to make decisions differently each day.

Leadership always comes from the sense of identity and purpose which drives us. But coaching shouldn’t stop at the internal. Everything internal can be translated into pragmatic action that looks like lasting change.

For more information, or to discuss your own development, please get in touch.