Is Leadership Coaching Really Effective? ROI Doesn’t Lie-Ask Google and GSK

Written by Dr. Kelly Whelan

Dr. Whelan is the Founder and CEO of Belem LLC. She specializes in partnering, empowering, and positioning executive leaders and teams for success by helping them design strategies that create stakeholder impact.

October 2, 2020


As leaders are pressed more than ever to create value for their stakeholders, many times, plummeting stock prices and a severance package as a parting gift is a CEO’s reality.  Yet, leaders of companies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)[1] and Google[2] have found a golden ticket in the form of coaching programs that add to their leader development tool-box, benefiting not just the shareholders, but also the interests of its stakeholders.


If big-name companies like these have jumped on the coaching bandwagon, why haven’t you?


A quick Google search with the words, “leadership coaching” captures an overwhelming 14,700,000 results.  With all that information, it amazes me how misunderstood coaching truly is.  Although you may have heard this buzzword, do you really know what the practice of coaching is or the incredible results that can be achieved?


Let’s Break It Down

True coaching is not consulting, therapy, mentoring, or any other mistaken form of “helping” but is an incredibly effective tool for today’s leaders looking to improve and maximize their capabilities for tomorrow’s growing challenges, but also today’s opportunities.

  • Coaching is an interactive, trusting partnership that encourages clients and their organizations to develop their capabilities and maximize potential through goal setting and promoting actionable steps that produce impact and transformation.
  • A Coach provides the structure, listens without judgment, asks powerful questions, administers and reviews assessments (as needed), helps prioritize action steps, offers a different perspective, holds the client responsible, accountable, and gives honest feedback.                                
  • The client (and possibly their supervisor) is responsible for establishing developmental goals, sets the agenda, shares what’s worked and hasn’t worked between sessions, creates the action plan, and engages in honest, open communication.


Coaching Is For Everyone-Yes, I said EVERYONE!

If you’re a leader, it’s not only negligent to discount the value of coaching for yourself, but also for the contributors of your organization.  Coaching is for all levels, not just the C-Suite.  Coaching assists in recruiting, onboarding, retention, promotion, change efforts, succession planning, and transitions.

When initiated and implemented correctly, leadership coaching produces exceptional leader-employee engagement, communication, team effectiveness, growth opportunities, and yes, even behavior changes.  It develops capabilities throughout the organization to increase performance measures, establish healthy relationships, and skill-building.  The list of benefits can go on and on, but is dependent upon each unique organization.



Coaching is not a one-size-fits-all practice.


It’s Not A Last Ditch Effort

Leadership coaching has proven to be a valuable tool and is no longer looked to as a last ditch effort to correct performance or bad attitudes of a problematic leader or employee. Rather, professional coaching is a highly respected tool to increase a leader’s success. The great thing about coaching is, there are side-benefits!  Meaning, a coaching agreement may be designed, for example, to increase employee engagement and work to create an emotional connection between the organization and their employees.  But, post coaching results discover the goal is not just met, but improved work-place feedback, employee retention, and increased profits are being documented over time. Further, employees are sharing positive results spilling over into their personal life outside the work walls from what they’ve learned from the coaching experience.


Return On Investment

Leader development in today’s global world has to be smarter, produce quicker results, have the ability to be driven down throughout the organization and generate a return on investment (ROI).  And, only you can define what that success is.

Although ROI typically does have a numerical value placed on it, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a monetary value.  Take Google, they implemented an internal coaching program in 2010.  To measure their ROI, Googlers used their most valuable resource as their ROI measure: time.  Their satisfaction ratings scored a 4.8 out of 5. “When asked if coaching was worth their time, they’re overwhelmingly likely to answer, “Yes.”[3]  For GSK, the ROI dollar figure was a significant $66 million for their efforts utilizing coaching worldwide at every level of their organization.


Coaching Is Here to Stay

Let’s face it, as with every profession, there are growing pains, misconceptions, and at times people who can do more harm than good for clients if they do not have the skills, knowledge, or ethical guidelines in place that are needed.  I doubt the trailblazers or even the naysayers of the coaching phenomenon realized the incredible impact this practice would evoke and the depths it would be able to bring to each level of an organization when the concept began to find itself in and around the commercial workspace.

The exciting application of this very personal and practical tool is no longer talked about as a fad but rather, is here to stay as an effective, highly successful, and undeniable change-agent for both individuals and organizations alike when a transformational partnership is realized.


What Are You Waiting For?

By now you should understand leadership coaching can and should be linked to your organizational strategy and objectives if you’re looking to be a competitor in today’s rapidly changing global world.  But, to initiate a coaching conversation and bring it into an organization takes someone willing to step up, out, and unleash this powerful development tool.  This champion does not need to be the CEO (though it certainly helps!), but someone who is passionate about their organization, division, branch, or team and ready to get the coaching conversation out on the table.

There’s a quote in my office that reads,


“Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.”


Today is the day to take that leap, start that coaching conversation and begin to create a better future for you and your organization.

You’ll be glad you did!


Be sure to tune in to our podcast CONVERSATIONS For Leaders & Teams, or on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform!

Click here to purchase your copy of Leadership Excellence By Design: Strategies For Sustainability & Strength on Amazon!

Leadership By Design. Book by Dr. Kelly Whelan.








[1] Creating a Coaching Culture for Better Talent [Case Study]

[2] Growing At Google 2015 [Case Study]:

[3] Growing At Google 2015 [Case Study]:

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