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Getting an Executive Team on Board With a Coaching Culture

If a coaching culture were to increase trust, empowerment, engagement, responsibility, accountability, productivity, capability, capacity, teamwork, innovation, retention, competitiveness, and profits whilst also reducing stress, absence, conflict, stagnation, complacency and missed opportunities, what would your executive team say? Would they say it sounds too good to be true? Or would they ask what the catch is?

The executive team is often seen as the biggest hurdle to implementing a coaching culture in an organisation. They are the ones who need to see the value in it, be on board with the financial investment, and be willing to change the way things have always been done.

Although there is no one formula for achieving this buy-in, some key steps can help get an executive team on board with a coaching culture.

Getting an Executive Team on Board With a Coaching Culture

Executive teams are often hesitant to invest in coaching cultures because they may not see the immediate value. However, research from the Human Capital Institute highlights that companies with a strong coaching culture outperformed their competitors by over 20%.

Furthermore, research from the College of Executive Coaching found that there was a 53% increase in productivity, a 32% increase in retention, and a 22% increase in profit when there was a strong coaching culture.

Below, we share our tips on getting an executive team on board with a coaching culture.

Sell It, but Don’t Over Sell It

When we consider how to get an executive team on board with a coaching culture, stating the benefits with research to back it up and offering clear, measurable outcomes is a critical first step, but we can’t stop there. Though creating a coaching culture is straightforward, it is not easy to achieve.

Creating a coaching culture often means challenging belief structures, including long formed and well-established leadership habits, alongside peer expectations and competitiveness. Time and patience are required; there will be no instant results.

So let us make no mistake, creating a coaching culture takes commitment, hard work, investment, and for people to be given time in their diaries to develop their skills. There will be a need to carve out time for development and learning in the face of the often-overwhelming desire for task completion.

Like everything worthwhile, a coaching culture, whilst bringing great and lasting benefits, also comes with a cost.

Be Clear about What Coaching Is and What It Is Not

“The coaching or mentoring conversation links heightened self-awareness with heightened environmental awareness (environment meaning “anything that is not you”) to enrich how the learner analyses issues, determines what is most desirable and most important, decides what actions to take and plans how they will muster the resources and support they need to bring about change.”

The above quote from David Clutterbucks’ blog on “Coaching and Mentoring as conversations about context” begins to give an insight into what it means to coach in a coaching culture.

We all know leaders who believe that they coach, but when we ask their direct reports, they say that they are, in fact, rarely coached. Helping others through questioning to come to the outcome that we have already decided eventually is not coaching; that is called, “Guess the right answer whilst we waste each other's time”. Asking questions does not necessarily mean we are coaching.

In a world where everyone and anyone can call themselves a coach, it is important to root ourselves in research and thinking from leaders in the coaching field, such as ourselves, The Leadership Coaches, or association bodies such as the EMCC, the ICF, or the AC.

Consider a Pilot

We should give careful consideration to running a pilot when we are considering a culture change. A pilot can be a useful way of demonstrating the effectiveness of the proposal, the challenges, and the potential of a future culture change, providing evidence and inspiration to take the pilot further.

Alternatively, a pilot can stall a process and can be undermined by its limited scope. When seeking culture change in a large interconnected system such as our organisations, trying to implement change in one small part can either create ripple effects out into the wider organisations. These can either be beneficial or overpowered by the existing norms, which can prove detrimental.

This will depend on your organisation and what works best for you.

Read our blog,Influencing Stakeholders to Create a Coaching Culture,” to learn more about establishing a coaching culture.


As we have considered how to get an executive team on board with a coaching culture, we have focused on establishing a clear research-based set of reasons with measurable outcomes, without over-selling, and being clear on the involved commitments and challenges.

It is also important to be clear on what is meant by coaching in a coaching culture and the benefits, or otherwise, of running a pilot scheme.

Contact Us Today

Book a free consultation by calling us today if you want to find out how our expert coaching services can support creating an outstanding coaching culture.


Research on the benefits of coaching from the Human Capital Institute

Research on the benefits of coaching from the College of Executive Coaching

“Coaching and Mentoring as conversations about context” David Clutterbuck





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