Executive coaching has come into its own in a skills-scarce world. As companies
across the globe battle to recruit and retain C-level executives and skilled staff, they
are turning to independent coaching companies to fast track the development of new
"Competitiveness and business sustainability depend on the quality of leadership
at the helm of the enterprise,' says Sandra Burmeister, CEO of Amrop Landelahni.
"The first step is to recruit the right candidates. However, in a complex,
uncertain world, talent hiring and leadership development decisions that rely on
candidates? past performance have limited usefulness.
"Past experience does not necessarily equate to competence, particularly in the
context of a changing global landscape. We need smart tools to hire the right people
and identify high-potential individuals for promotion into leadership positions.
"Future-oriented tools are essential to identify the leadership attributes needed
for long-term success. Simulation-based tools such as assessment centres are
emerging at the forefront of talent management because they fulfil this requirement.
They can identify key competencies related to business goals and pinpoint areas for
The coaching profession is currently showing more rapid growth in developing
markets than in established ones, albeit coming off a low base. The International
Coaching Federation (ICF) 2012 Global Coaching Study indicates that in North
America and Western Europe there are approximately 26 times more coaches per 1-
million population than in the Middle East and Africa.
"There is a growing demand for coaching in South Africa,' says Burmeister.
"Professional coaches, working to best-practice standards, bring years of business
expertise to the organisation, while not being tainted by in-house perceptions and
political point-scoring. Such outsourced coaching interventions deliver a high return-
on-investment for the individual and for the organisation.
"There is no doubt that companies that have a structured process in place for
determining effectiveness and measuring success gain tremendous benefit from
"Individual coaching focuses on enhancing the individual?s strategic thinking and
interpersonal skills, and cultivates the ability to respond to challenges with integrity
"Executive coaching circles, on the other hand, are a participative, experiential,
exploratory experience. They challenge executives? usual way of operating, helping
them to expand their field of vision and extend their leadership abilities. They allow
organisations to develop individual talent while building a more resilient corporate
"Newly-appointed senior executives, such as the CEO, can benefit from an on-
boarding programme to help them become integrated and assimilated into the
organisation more effectively. The execution of a "first 100 days in office? plan aims
to achieve full productivity and ensure the contribution of the leader to the
organisation in the shortest possible time, resulting in a high retention rate.'
UK research indicates that 97% of organisations believe that executive coaching
impacts positively on business performance. Close to two-thirds says individual and
team performance is the main business benefit.
The ICF survey shows that, in South Africa, executives gain most benefit from
coaching in terms of improved interpersonal relationships (44%), personal growth
(41%), work-life balance (33%) and self-esteem (32%). The average length of the
coaching engagement typically ranged from 4-12 months.
"A coaching programme provides objective and independent support in dealing with
leadership challenges,' says Burmeister. "It tends to engage and motivate the
executive and drives him to succeed within the organisation, overcoming obstacles
that have held him back in the past.
"Of concern, however, is a recent Stanford University survey that shows a
considerable gender imbalance in executive coaching. Some 81% of participants in
executive coaching were men, against only 19% women.
"Creating a robust leadership pipeline depends on the ability to identify people -
male or female - with the motivation and potential to become future leaders,
accelerate the development of these high-potential candidates and prepare them for