New Scientific Evidence that Leadership Coaching Works
Want more engaged, inspiring, and innovative leaders? New data shows that working with a leadership and success coach develops these and other leadership skills.
You can have the most passionate mission statement and boldest vision, yet without effective leaders who know how to inspire, motivate, and bring out the best in others, your organization can spin around in mediocrity, or flat-line altogether. Good leaders improve employee engagement—something that’s significantly lacking in most corporate cultures—and understand how to resolve conflict and create positive work environments.
Each year corporations invest large sums of money to train their leaders in soft skills to raise emotional intelligence, increase self-awareness, and guide them to build powerful interpersonal connections in hopes it will ultimately serve the bottom line. Those same organizations will tell you that it’s hard to quantify the return on investment, and more importantly, to sustain the results over the long haul.
iPEC, a comprehensive coach training program that’s trained more than 15,000 coaches worldwide, has been studying these very issues. Their proprietary methodology, Core Energy Coaching,™ approaches leadership development in a completely different way than other executive coaching models, because it starts with something so basic, yet so misunderstood: Energy.
Core Energy Coaching begins with a simple premise: All people are continually experiencing energy, in one of two ways postulated by Bruce D Schneider, founder of iPEC: catabolic or anabolic energy. Anabolic energy is constructive, expanding, fueling, and creative, and works for a person. Conversely, catabolic energy is destructive, draining, or resisting and works against a person. The type of energy we experience fluctuates throughout the day and inside of situations. However, because of our attitude and the way we interpret our life experiences, we wind up experiencing the same type of energy over and over again.
As many people get stuck in draining, catabolic energy, iPEC coaches are trained to help them raise their energy levels and become more aware of their actions and choices. As a result of this shift to anabolic energy, they’re more apt to inspire others, more open to innovation and possibility, and far better able to pursue goals and lead teams of people.
There is plenty of qualitative evidence—in the form of success stories—that Core Energy Coaching™ raises someone’s energy level and improves leadership ability. But what about quantitative evidence?
How Can We Measure the Effect of Coaching?
The true effect of working with a coach has been difficult to quantify. Now, with new research, we have numbers—actual data—that show how working with a Core Energy Coach raises a person’s energy, so that in any given situation, one can choose to respond with anabolic energy related to opportunity, curiosity, creativity, and intuition versus more catabolic energy which reveals itself in behaviors like blame, anger, and worry.
“We were looking for evidence that coaching worked,” says Lynn Waldorf, PhD, CPC, who was tasked with analyzing a data set that contained data from about 30,000 people who had taken the Energy Leadership Index™ (ELI).
The ELI is a 70-item, web-based assessment that leads people through rating themselves on their beliefs, self-perceptions, emotional reaction tendencies, and behavior patterns. The questionnaire is designed to measure the amount of anabolic and catabolic energy in a person’s core energy makeup, under both ideal and stressful circumstances. The more a person can reduce catabolic energy and increase anabolic energy, the higher their core energy will be.
Finding #1: Coaching Raises Our Core Energy Levels
The first question Waldorf was looking to answer with the data was if working with an iPEC-trained Core Energy Coach could raise a person’s core energy. To do this, she identified and studied people who had taken the ELI twice—before and after working with a coach. She found that after working with a coach, people’s average resonating level of core energy increased from 3.25 to 3.52, a statistically significant increase.
“It may seem like a small increase, but it’s exponential in terms of growth,” says Liz Fisch, Senior Vice President of Program Development and Research for iPEC. “In coaching, things happen in small or large shifts, but even a small shift in any given moment can have a huge impact. If just one person shifts out of frustration and into the energy of opportunity, it can change the entire dynamic of a team.
For example, one choice to listen with curiosity at a weekly team meeting versus rushing to judgment can change the entire trajectory of a team. It only takes one second, but it can have a long-term effect.”
Finding #2: Coaching Helps Us Respond Better in Stressful Situations
Most of us respond to stressful situations with a lot of catabolic energy, which coaching can shift us out of. Waldorf wanted to measure what that shift looked like for people under stress—which is when the shift matters most.
She found that after working with an iPEC Core Energy Coach, people’s percentage of catabolic energy decreased from 68 to 59 percent while under stress, while their anabolic energy increased from 32 to 41 percent.
“These are very significant numbers, especially the decrease in catabolic energy. It indicates that coaching helped people have more control of their thoughts and behaviors rather than have an automatic reaction inside a stressful situation,” Waldorf says.
Finding #3: Coaching Increases Overall Life Satisfaction
“If someone’s core energy is higher and they are handling their stress better, does that impact how they report life satisfaction? Our theory was overall life satisfaction would increase as well,” Waldorf says.
In fact, she was right. After coaching, people reported increased levels of life satisfaction across the board, in 14 distinct areas, from financial success and engagement at work to leadership ability and work relationships.
The data, taken all together, tells a consistent story: There is clear evidence that Core Energy Coaching fulfills the promises it makes, and sets people up for realizing more success in life and in work.
You can read the full research paper here.
Shifting Energy = Inspiring Leadership Ability
In a business setting, the shift toward anabolic energy allows people to access creativity and intuition more quickly, rather than resorting to anger, resentment, and other low-level responses that can sap productivity and create division across teams.
“It isn’t just about positive thinking,” Fisch says. “It’s something deeper. You are becoming more aware that you have a choice. Seeing the negative is a survival mechanism for some people. Core Energy Coaching allows you to realize it more quickly and shift out of it more quickly.”
Leaders who work with a Core Energy Coach from iPEC develop the ability to cultivate that shift in themselves as well as in others around them. Through the process, they develop the innate ability to cultivate passionate, inspiring work environments and the shifts in business outcomes that many only dreams of.
Connect with me, Dr. Kirsten Diederich, CPC, ELI-MP to discuss the vision you have for yourself as a leader and explore how Core Energy Coaching can help you exceed your own expectations.