Laying the Foundation

By Damian Goldvarg

While organisations may be becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of a strong coaching culture, translating this into practice is a very different matter. Here, Damian Goldvarg shares the International Coach Federation’s latest insights into Building a Coaching Culture – how to do it and what it can mean for you.

A growing number of organisations recognise the value in building a coaching culture that offers employees at all levels the opportunity to grow their skills, enhance their value and reach their professional goals. Still, questions remain: What does a successful coaching culture look like? What’s more, how can organisations design a coaching culture that is impactful, sustainable and aligned with strategic goals? Building a Coaching Culture explores these questions by investigating the components of a successful coaching culture and the state of organisational coaching today.

More than half of respondents from organisations with strong coaching cultures reported their 2013 revenue to be above average, compared to their peer group.
Building a Coaching Culture is a signature piece of research conducted in partnership between the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI) in order to examine the ways in which companies and leaders establish and support a coaching culture and to further identify the motivation, application and outcomes of coaching practices today.

The survey, geared toward individuals in human resources, talent management, and learning and development roles, was administered to 544 respondents from organisations of various sizes representing diverse industrial sectors. The research also includes in-depth interviews with subject-matter experts.

A primary goal of this study was to identify up to six distinguishing criteria for classifying strong coaching cultures. To determine the components of a successful coaching culture, ICF and HCI created a composite index highlighting the critical success factors necessary to develop an environment of effective coaching.

An organisation was classified as having a strong coaching culture by earning a score of five or six on this composite index. Points were generated for each of the following:

• Strongly agree/agree that their organisation has a strong coaching culture.

• Strongly agree/agree that employees value coaching.

• Strongly agree/agree that senior executives value coaching.

• Coaching is a fixture in the organisation with a dedicated line item in the budget.

• Managers/leaders and/or internal coach practitioners spend above-average time on weekly coaching activities. (“Above-average” was defined as greater than 19 percent for managers/leaders and greater than 17 percent for internal
coach practitioners.)

• Managers/leaders and/or internal coach practitioners received accredited coach training.


Although many organisations realise the value of coaching, just more than one in ten (13 percent) of the organisations included in Building a Coaching Culture were classified as having a strong coaching culture.

Key findings from the research include:

Impact on Engagement. Overall, 65 percent of employees from companies with strong coaching cultures rated themselves as highly engaged.

Improved Financial Performance. More than half of respondents from organisations with strong coaching cultures reported their 2013 revenue to be above average, compared to their peer group.

Different Modalities. There are three main modalities at work in organisations offering coaching: external coach practitioners who are contracted to partner with employees, internal coach practitioners, and managers/leaders using coaching skills.

Biggest Challenges. The three main barriers to implementing a successful coaching culture are lack of time, limited ability to measure return on investment, and budgetary constraints.

The study also revealed that organisations employing external coach practitioners, internal coach practitioners, managers/leaders using coaching skills or some combination thereof report a variety of positive impacts, including improved team functioning (81 percent), increased engagement (79 percent), faster leadership development (71 percent), increased emotional intelligence for employees (68 percent), increased job satisfaction (69 percent) and faster onboarding into new roles (67 percent).

The final research report, available at, also includes key insights, strategies and best practices for organisational decision-makers ready to harness the transformative power of professional coaching within their organisations.

About the Author

Damian-GoldvargDamian Goldvarg, Ph.D., MCC, is the 2014 Global Chair for the International Coach Federation (ICF). He has more than 15 years of experience as an Executive Coach working with individuals and organisations around the world. His focus is on leadership development, including executive assessment and coaching, talent management, performance feedback, and leadership training.




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