Day in The Life
Results from the Global Sherpa Coaching
Author Karl Corbett is
president of Sasha Corporation,
a human resources consulting firm in
Cincinnati, Ohio, founded in 1984.
© Sherpa Coaching LLC, 2006. All
Americas largest generation is about to retire,
emptying our boardrooms and councils of power. Leadership is everybodys
number one concern. Despite the looming importance of leadership development,
no one seems to know how organizations will fill the leadership gap. The most
talked-about approach is executive coaching.
a growing movement toward in-house coaching, and a cadre of independent coaches
out there, yet most surveys on coaching cited in publications and websites date
back to 2001 or earlier. In fact, no one has published a survey involving a
significant number of working coaches until now.
2005, the University of Cincinnatis Executive Education department
partnered with Sherpa Coaching, an executive coaching certification firm in
Cincinnati, to conduct The 2006 Sherpa Coaching Survey, their first annual
global survey on the state of executive and business
executive and personal coaches were surveyed, the largest sampling of coaches
ever published. An additional 130 human resource (HR) and training
professionals also responded, including many who train in-house coaches and
hire coaches from the outside. Polling was largely in the United States, but
respondents were noted from Mexico, Canada, Sweden, France, England, Italy,
South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.
of Louisville, Kentucky provided online services for the polling project. IQS
founder and President Shawn Herbig says: This was an innovative piece of
work, and the number of responses produced a 96% degree of accuracy in the
Sherpa Coaching Surveys results.
some confusion about what executive coaching is. As defined by the
surveys sponsors, executive coaching involves frequent, one-on-one
meetings between an executive or senior manager and an expert facilitator,
designed to produce positive change in business behavior in a limited time
explores every aspect of that definition: - Who can best use the services of a
coach? - Whats the best background for an executive coach? - How are
services delivered, and what do customers really want? - Whats the
frequency and time frame for coaching? - How is its value
come of age. Although there are still a few novel approaches to business
coaching, including breath coaching and the primal drumming
circle, 80% of HR professionals, the customers, rate the value and
credibility of executive coaching as very high or somewhat
high, with only 20% rating current coaching as mediocre and
less than 1% as low.
resource professionals were included in the Sherpa Coaching Survey, to both
temper and validate what coaches report. The way in which the two groups answer
questions differently can show a gap between service offerings and what
coaching customers want. Those discrepancies also expose a degree of marketing
hype in the field of coaching. Almost 30% of executive coaches claim to charge
$300 or more per hour, but only 12% of HR professionals say they actually pay
coaches at those levels.
HR professionals agree closely about who needs a coach. Twenty percent put
coaching into play for individuals in transition: transfers, new hires and
recently promoted employees. The remaining 80% were evenly divided, between
those who use coaching for individuals with a specific problem and those who
see coaching as a normal part of leadership development.
certification is cited as increasingly important with coaches new to the field.
Theres no consensus as to who should train and certify, though. The
International Coaching Federation has tried to establish itself as the
clearinghouse for certifications, but almost 40% of practicing executive
coaches and 88% of HR professionals reject the ICF as most qualified to
train and certify coaches. This leaves the certification process up for
grabs, and universities seem to be making a move.
participating coaches, business and executive coaches make up 78%
of the coaches surveyed, with life, health and personal coaches
constituting 22% of the pool. Coaches taking part also include career coaches
and those who combine business with personal coaching services. Since the focus
of the Sherpa Coaching Survey is executive coaching, answers from those coaches
clearly defined as business and executive coaches are frequently
isolated as survey results are reported.
|Additionally, 130 Human Resources (HR) professionals responded to the
Sherpa Coaching Survey, with several identifying themselves directly as
purchasers of coaching services.
executive coaches who responded to this survey are among the most successful in
the field, based on what they say about themselves. In a business where coaches
come and go with great frequency, 19% claim one to two years experience,
while 68% state they have been coaching for three years or
of everyone surveyed lists extensive training as a coach as the
best background, with a wide variety of other responses making up
33%. Industry-specific expertise is cited by just 10%, indicating that business
coaches should be able to establish a credible practice across a wide variety
some counselors and therapists offer coaching in their practices,
less than 2% of survey respondents say counseling and therapy is
the most effective background for a business coach.
Coaching Survey asked coaches how they deliver their services, allowing
multiple answers. Survey data indicates that 39% of all coaching is delivered
in person and 32% conducted © Sherpa Coaching LLC, 2006. All rights
reserved. Page 3 of 5 by phone. Email is used in 25% of coaching engagements,
with Internet chat and webcam delivery accounting for less than 5% of
in-person meetings involve travel time and limit a coachs geographic
reach, some coaches choose to deliver services over the telephone. Live
coaching, experts agree, allows a coach to read body language and facial
expression. Telephone calls lack those visual cues, and even allow an unfocused
client to multi-task during a coaching session. Email removes even voice
inflection, and is unlikely to convey or encourage any profound
obvious, over one-third of coaches in the Sherpa Coaching Survey claim that
telephone coaching is the most effective method for delivery of
coaching services, with one coach professing that phone coaching removes
visual distractions. The vast majority of human resource professionals
know better. 92% say that in-person meetings are most likely to
produce positive change.
|There may be
trends in place that favor client contact. 60% of those in the business 3 years
more say live engagements are most effective, while 70% of emerging coaches
favor in-person coaching. Some coaching gurus predict that an alternative to
live meetings, Internet webcam coaching, will become more accepted as the
technology becomes widely deployed and easy to use.
|The longer a
coach stays in business, the more in tune they are with clients
timetables. 44% of HR professionals state that the most effective coaching is
delivered as needed, rather than on a regular schedule. Just 13% of
first-year coaches agree with that assessment, while twice as many 5-year
coaches cite as needed as the most effective
introduction of process-driven coaching has created a new attitude among
emerging coaches, who seem more attuned to clients need for results.
Cost-effectiveness is becoming more and more of a factor, as demand for coaches
increases. Most veteran coaches say a coaching engagement should take six
months or more, or be open-ended, while 70% of first year coaches say coaching
engagements should take six months or less.
coaching practice takes time. Among executive coaches in business for one to
two years, just 8% report working with more than 10 clients a week. That number
increases to 25% for coaches whove practiced three years or more. The
lean quality of the early years in a coaching career might explain why turnover
in the field is quite high.
who hire coaches look for experience first and foremost. Coaches in business
less than a year rely more on private-pay clients, with only half of clients
corporate-paid. Coaches in business a year or two state that 56% of their
clients are paid for by their employer, and those in business three or more
years have over 70% of their clients paid for by employing
rates are dependent on the market in which a coach operates. More than 60% of
life, health and personal coaches charge $149 per hour or less. In contrast,
only 23% of executive and business coaches charge those lower rates. Almost
half of executive coaches work in the $150- 300 per hour range, with fewer than
5% claiming rates of $500 per hour or more.
|If you take
at face value the rates coaches say they charge, then their average hourly rate
approaches $230 in their first year, $255 in the second and third, $275 in the
fourth and fifth years of practice, with executive coaches in business 5 years
or more averaging $345 per hour.
hourly earnings estimates and the number of clients surveyed coaches cited, the
Sherpa Coaching Survey pegs the annual earnings of first-year executive coaches
who participated in the survey at $51,000, second and third year coaches at
$79,000, fourth and fifth year coaches at $106,000, with those in business more
than five years averaging just over $150,000 a year. In contrast to the
business world, life, health and personal coaches report that their
earnings start at just $26,000 per year, and peak slightly above
is changing hands, everyone should benefit. HR professionals who hire or use
coaches dont have conventional control of their side of the ledger,
however. Among HR professionals, only 7% said they had a formal process to
monitor the value of coaching. Anecdotal evidence is the leading
way of monitoring the value of coaching, with 55% citing it among HR
professionals, while 7% have a formal process.
missing? A way to prove the benefits of coaching. Research on the return on
investment to be expected from executive coaching seems sparse, with limited
studies in 1998 and 2001 being most widely used to make the case. Experts cite
a leap of faith taken by organizations who are serious about
executive coaching, and acknowledge that there are no widely accepted
certification seems to improve a coachs survival rate in the field. Among
executive and business coaches in the business for one to five years, almost
85% cite training and certification as their primary development tool. First
year coaches only cite training and certification 64% of the
International Coaching Federation (ICF) claims to have a leading role in
accrediting coach training programs. ICF-endorsed programs vary widely, though,
including training exclusively for mental health professionals, and even a
state-licensed vocational school. Some certifications are conducted entirely
over the telephone.
entrance criteria beyond payment of a membership fee, just 12 percent of the
ICFs members actually hold an ICF-designated certification, according to
informed insiders. ICF President Steve Mitten acknowledged in an ICF newsletter
in early 2005: Individuals with no intention of becoming properly trained
are joining the ICF and calling themselves ICF
|Business-centered trade associations, including the International
Consortium for Coaching in Organizations (ICCO) havent been around long
enough to gain traction, with less than 5% of respondents citing them as
most qualified to train and certify.
programs offered by colleges and universities could be counted on the fingers
of one hand just a year ago. A dozen, mostly homegrown programs, are now
available. Programs developed by veteran coaches compete with think
tank education as the industry struggles to produce useful
a marked difference between certificate programs and certifications, too.
Certificate programs recognize attendance at a series of classes.
Certifications, on the other hand, are much more rigorous, with required
testing against a standard body of knowledge. The Sherpa Coaching Certification
is the only program endorsed by multiple universities: piloted at Xavier,
offered by the University of Cincinnati, Kent State University and the
University of Louisville.
looks good for this industry sector: Despite the shortage of coast-to-coast
options at learning institutions, 14% of HR professionals feel colleges and
universities are most qualified to train and certify business
coaches, beating the ICF by several percentage
coaching has a long way to go to become a mature industry with recognizable
standards. As demand grows for a set of uniform credentials, colleges and
universities will almost certainly pick up the slack, as they did 5 years ago
when front line staffing was the crisis du jour. The number of both certificate
and certification programs will increase, as graduate schools, business schools
and executive education programs explore their options.
consolidate the industry under a single banner, a clear process for executive
coaching has to gain universal acceptance. The Sherpa process, detailed in a
340-page book, The Sherpa Guide, is an early front-runner. If it
can attract the backing of additional university partners, it may well become
the operating system for modern business coaching.
delivery methods have yet to rule the day, partly because there arent
enough credible coaches to cover every locale. When the supply of world-class
coaches catches up with demand, face-to-face coaching will be more the norm, in
line with what HR professionals and clients want.
already become a routine part of leadership development, no longer looked on as
an indicator of problems. As those who have a coach show more success and
attain higher status, demand for coaching will increase, as
|Tune in for
next years second annual Sherpa Coaching Survey, and another look at this
fastchanging industry. Results are officially released, and posted at
www.sherpacoaching.com, on February 1st of each year.