7 Executive coaching trends shaping leader development


Nov 15, 2021


The coaching industry has grown significantly in the past decade and momentum for the practice doesn’t appear to be slowing, particularly in the area of executive and leadership coaching. We explore the 2020 Executive Coaching for Results Research Study conducted by CoachSource to uncover the latest trends in executive coaching and how they are shaping leader development.

This robust study highlights findings from over 600 coaching executives across various industries and corporate demographics. It provides a useful base from which to develop executive and leader development programs.

Leader development is important because a leader’s actions, interactions and outlook all impact their team’s culture, engagement and ultimately, performance. Great leaders engage their teams in a way that unifies members to share a common goal and strive to optimise organisational performance. Here we list the seven executive coaching trends shaping leader development in 2021.

  1. Focus on social justice
    Coaching has recently shifted to include a focus on social justice and ensuring workplace equality. Beyond equality it also brings a focus on wellness, work life balance, diversity and inclusion.
  2. Coaching is expected to gain momentum
    91% of respondents reported that the use of executive coaching has either increased or remained the same, demonstrating that it is maintaining impact when it comes to leader development. In addition, Coach certification and group coaching have increased in prominence since 2018.
  3. Coaching is no longer just for fixing performance problems
    It was found that where once coaching was used for remediation of ineffective leaders, today it is used more for leader development and succession planning, to help leaders transition to leadership roles, and to develop executive presence.
  4. Coaching for middle management
    No longer the realm of top executives, career coaching is exceedingly being used at the middle management level. This ensures middle managers are well prepared to take senior leadership positions, rather than coaching for the role once they are in it.
  5. Soft skills are more important than ever
    Employees and coaches alike report that target development areas for coaching include executive presence, emotional intelligence, ability to influence others and communication skills. In addition, practice managers identified communicating vision and strategy as key development areas. These are the skills that influence a leader’s ability to get along with others, impacting their reputation and ability to lead effectively.
  6. Coaching hours are increasing
    The average engagement timeline for coaching is now six months with an average of one to two sessions per month. Most coaching programs include 11-20 hours of coaching, followed by those including 21-30 hours, with face to face coaching preferred.
  7. Measuring return on investment is gaining importance
    Measuring the impact of an executive coaching program is steadily gaining importance as businesses look to ensure any investment makes a positive contribution to the bottom line. 23% of respondents report linking coaching to business results, while 36% do not currently, but would like to. Measurement comes from self-assessment, manager assessment, surveys, 360 assessments and business impact.

The coaching industry continues to evolve in response to our fast-changing work environments. Leaders and teams alike can benefit from the support of an external coach to help navigate the uncertainty and complexity of our current environment.

PBC is a multidisciplinary global consulting firm with more than 30 years of experience designing and implementing customer-focused, evidence-based people solutions. Underpinned by rigorous inhouse research, our programs enable organisations to select the right people, develop key talent, build better teams, drive leadership capability, and enhance organisational performance.

With a network of partners and distributors globally, our team of highly qualified and accredited coaches support leaders and teams to understand strengths and opportunities for enhanced effectiveness.

We are the Australian distributor of Hogan Assessments and the author of a range of diagnostics including the Hogan 360 Suite, Agile Leader 360, Graduate Talent Assessment (GradTA), High Performing Team Assessment (HPTA), and co-author of the Hogan Safety Climate Survey, all of which can be used as a scaffold for coaching individuals and teams.

Whether developing executive presence, emotional intelligence, the ability to influence, or enhancing communication, PBC believes that all talent can be nurtured, to optimise their performance. Watch our “Coaching for success” presentation to learn about coaching trends and our scientific approach.

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