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Impact of Coaching Varies with the Proficiency Level of the Coach

Highly proficient coaches are highly valued by clients and have three impacts that make a difference

December 15, 2016

Within "coaching," there are professional coaches and there are managers who use coaching with their direct reports. Although they both coach others, the quality of their coaching varies with their level of proficiency. What difference in coaching impact is there between them?

The certified coaching qualification by the International Coaching Federation (hereafter "ICF") is one way to demonstrate coaching proficiency. Even for the lowest level certification, candidates needed to complete a Coaching Program certified by the ICF, have coaching experience of 100 or more hours, and pass a written examination. We researched coaches with the ICF certification and coaches without the certification to determine whether differences in the impact of coaching were the result of the coaches' proficiency level.

For the analysis, we used data from Ayce, a web service where clients can evaluate coaching.

First, we compared the differences in the levels of client achievement and satisfaction at the end of the coaching process or program.

Figure 1. Differences in levels of achievement and satisfaction of clients depending on the presence or absence of the ICF certification
n = 113 coaches (With ICF certification: 54 / Without ICF certification: 59)
7-point scale (1. Completely disagree - 7. Completely agree)
Survey by Coaching Research Institute LLP, 2016

For both achievement level and satisfaction level, coaches with ICF certification received higher ratings than coaches without certification. The survey revealed that certified coaches provided comprehensive, good quality coaching.

Next, we examined the differences in the impact of coaching.

Figure 2. Differences in the impact of coaching on clients depending on the presence or absence of certification (presented in descending order of differences)
n = 113 coaches (With ICF certification: 54 / Without ICF certification: 59)
4-point scale (1. No changes, 2. Somewhat improved, 3. Improved, and 4. Very improved)
Survey by Coaching Research Institute LLP, 2016

Clients whose coaches had ICF certification rated the impact of coaching higher for all items than clients whose coaches were not certified. In particular, the following three items stood out.

  • Taking new approaches in doing things
  • Knowing the ways to maximize my performance
  • Finding common ground when my values or opinions are different from others

ICF lists the Core Competencies as the desirable traits of a good coach, and they also serve as the basis for the coaching exam. In the category of Designing Actions of the competencies, one item is "taking new action that will most effectively lead to agreed-upon coaching results". "Taking new approaches in doing things", which had the largest gap in the current survey, fell under this category. Clients will not achieve their goals with conversations alone; they need to act. Coaches with ICF certification are skilled at influencing action.

According to this analysis, highly proficient coaches with ICF certification were rated highly by clients. Among the impacts of coaching, notable differences were noted in "taking new approaches in doing things," "knowing the ways to maximize my performance," and "finding common ground when my values or opinions are different from others."

Research Overview

No. of Samples: 113 coaches (The data of 431 evaluations implemented at the end of coaching)
Period: April - October, 2016
Survey Method: Web survey
Survey Tool: Accelerate your Coaching Effectiveness (Ayce)

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