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Using systemic coaching to catalyze organizational transformation

The purpose of coaching is to satisfy the individual' s coaching experience and to produce behavioral change for successfully achieving the individual' s goals. Traditional approaches to coaching usually involve two parties - the coach and the client (the person being coached, such as managers and high potentials). However, we have incorporated coaching into companies for the purpose of improving not just the individuals but also the performance of the organization. We believe that when leaders who have strong influence in an organization receive coaching, their interactions with others can change and bring a positive impact driving the organization forward. In our experience, this systemic approach to coaching has been effective in transforming organizations. Therefore, our coaching not only included the coaches and the clients, but also involved the stakeholders (i.e. direct reports or colleagues who interact with the client at the workplace) as well. There are numerous studies on how coaching has an impact on individuals, but our research study goes one step further by looking at how coaching
impacts on the clients' stakeholders as well. The results of our studies showed that through coaching, (1) the clients have improved their managerial coaching skills and (2) the stakeholders have improved their engagement behaviors in their work.

Research overview

Survey results were gathered between 2012 and 2014. The number of samples consisted of 67 coaches, 567 clients, 3170 stakeholders (pre-coaching) and 3083 stakeholders (post-coaching). Coaches were professional coaches who received training from a coaching program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Clients were managers and high potentials working in organizations that have direct reports. Stakeholders were mostly direct reports and peers working in the same organization.

Measurement indicators

(1) The clients' managerial coaching skills

We prepared an online survey and had the clients ask their stakeholders to provide an evaluation on the clients' managerial coaching skills. This part of the survey included 24 items on managerial skills and abilities. (e.g. He/she asks questions to help others come to their own realizations.)

(2) The stakeholders'engagement behaviors

We used the same survey from (1) and asked the clients' stakeholders to provide a self-evaluation on their engagement behaviors in their work. This part of the survey included 9 items on various workplace actions and behaviors (e.g. I actively create and act on my own goals.) The survey used for the first and second indicators was conducted twice, during pre-coaching and post-coaching.

(3) The coaches' coaching skills

The clients filled out an online survey using the Coaching Skills Evaluation System (CSES) at the end of the coaching engagement. We only used the 18 items about the coach's coaching skills in this research study. (e.g. The coach listened to me until I finished speaking and did not interrupt in the middle of my speech.)

Improvements in clients' skills and stakeholders' engagement in their work

The results of our research study suggest the following:

(1) Clients have improved their managerial coaching skills

We compared the clients' managerial coaching skill scores between pre-coaching and post-coaching. There was a statistical significance (p<.01) in the score increase for all 24 items. There was a medium effect size (d=0.5) on 3 items as well.

(2) Stakeholders have improved their engagement behaviors in their wor

We compared the stakeholders' engagement behaviors between pre-coaching and post-coaching. There was a statistical significance (p<.01) in the score increase for all 9 items. In addition, we were able to see that coaches who had higher coaching skills improved the clients' managerial coaching skills and marked improvements in the clients' managerial coaching skills also contributed to better engagement behaviors of the stakeholders.

From clients to stakeholders, and onto entire organizations

The results showed that through systemic coaching, the impact of coaching was not only limited to the clients, but also to the stakeholders working with the clients. It showed that as people received coaching, they developed a stronger influence in the organization and their interactions with others changed, bringing a positive impact that drives the organization forward. In the future, we hope to study the impact coaching may have on other members of the organization who were not assigned as stakeholders and how this may contribute to the transformation of the organization.

About the International Columbia Coaching Program Conference

The 1st International Columbia Coaching Program Conference was sponsored by The Columbia Coaching Certification Program and Teachers College at Columbia University. The conference included paper presentations, experiential learning sessions, coach demonstrations and panel discussions from coaches and professionals around the world.