Career Fortitude



When considering the option to hire a coach to support your leadership development growth, it can be a daunting thought.  What exactly will the result be?  What specific value will be provided?  How will an investment now result in a salary increase in the future?  What’s the ROI from leadership development coaching? 

The truth is, everyone’s current state and objectives are different so the results vary.  It can be difficult to measure results from non-tangible improvements achieved through coaching.  The key step is to reflect on your personal position, your values, and your desired results to determine what exactly you need to get from working with a coach.  Career opportunities, management skills, and self-esteem are a few of the top factors that drive aspiring professionals to seek out coaching services.  The definition of these factors varies from person to person, along with what success looks and feels like when improvements are achieved.

When it comes to more tangible results, many people consider their salary to be a defining factor in setting goals against and influencing their personal needs from leadership coaching.  I’ve worked with individuals who have experienced on average between 10% and 25% salary increases from leadership and development coaching.  Depending on what your current goal is plays a big part in the percentage increase.  I’ve helped aspiring leaders promote into management positions and see as much as a $15k increase in salary.  I’ve seen leaders in management positions promote and receive large gains as well.  The percentage might not always reach 25%, but a 10% increase for a middle manager already between the $100k-$200k salary mark results in a sizeable salary increase.

Let’s take a deeper look into leadership development coaching to better understand what to expect.  We’ll compare the learning and development opportunities between a sports team and a business team to get us started.  It’s an easy comparison and quickly reveals where these two fields overlap, with the ultimate goal of strengthening individuals and creating success for the whole team.

What To Expect From A Coach

I don’t keep up with current professional sports trends and the physical activities that push me to remain physically fit are not team activities.  I enjoy running and mountain biking to focus my body and mind, feel adrenaline, and challenge my physical capabilities.  These sports don’t require any input other than my own.  When I was younger I participated in team sports but didn’t have a high level of passion for continuing as I became an adult.  During those team sports the coaches would offer guidance by using their expertise and identifying each player’s strengths.  And that’s where there are significant similarities between sports and business coaches.

Back when I played team sports I can recall the times my coaches pushed me to sharpen my skills and change the way I performed certain actions that led to me becoming a better player.  This ultimately improved our team and gave us a better chance at meeting our goal of winning games.  So it makes sense that now when I think of what it would take to become a highly-skilled mountain biker, for instance, it would involve gaining wisdom from someone else.  I would need a coach to teach me new skills, advise on my practice routine, and give me feedback so I’m constantly improving.  I don’t have aspirations to follow that path, but I’m fully aware that to push myself to excel in the sport I would need some serious help outside of myself.

In my early professional life, I found myself quickly becoming more in tune with team dynamics as I became a leader and was responsible for guiding my team to success.  As I think back on those team sports when I was younger it’s easy to see the connection between succeeding in team sports and succeeding in a business team setting.  Coaching in sports and leadership development coaching in a professional business environment share several similarities, despite operating in different contexts.  Both fields focus on enhancing performance, fostering growth, and achieving goals through guidance, motivation, and support.

Key similarities between sports coaching and leadership development coaching:

  • Goal-Oriented Approach
  • Skill Development
  • Motivation and Inspiration
  • Communication and Feedback
  • Adaptability and Flexibility
  • Accountability and Responsibility

Coaching’s Return On Investment

Although some companies are thriving by investing in the future leaders of their company with internal learning and development programs and leadership development programs, some companies either don’t invest enough or fail to follow through with the consistency needed for the program to succeed.  For those individuals who have not experienced robust learning and development programs provided by their employer or those who have experienced an insufficient program, there’s probably a lot of doubt and reluctance to invest in a leadership and career coach for your own needs.  This is with good cause.  There’s a lot of gray area in what coaching provides since it’s so individualized and nuanced around each person’s idea of professional growth.  There’s no one perfect step-by-step process that works for everyone.  The time it takes to achieve goals varies drastically as well, so without a guarantee for what exactly coaching will provide it’s understandable to be hesitant.

Here’s some data that reveals what the investment in coaching returns for those willing to challenge themself and/or their team to learn and grow.  When it comes to investing in your professional growth or your team’s success, the return on investment from working with a professional coach is significant.  For companies that have invested in coaching the median ROI was 7 times the initial investment, with 19% of companies reporting a 50 times or greater ROI (Mani 2023,

The return rate is not only reserved for what companies and teams can receive.  The same ROI can be obtained by an individual needing to grow and develop their leadership and professional skills.  It can be difficult to see past your current state and confidently envision what a successful investment in a coach can make, but remember the connection with sports team coaches.  The coach alone cannot make the player faster, stronger, and highly skilled.  The player must invest themself in the process.  Dieting, exercising, and working through obstacles require dedication and discipline.  The player won’t reach their goals without investing 100% in these areas.  Coaching and accepting coaching is a partnership.  One doesn’t work without the other.

What Your Employer Receives From Your Learning and Development Growth

L&D programs and incentives offered by an employer are good things.  If you have the opportunity to take advantage of them I believe you should.  But consider if what you’re being offered will truly give you enough momentum to achieve your long-term goals, professionally and in your personal life.  For those who have already met their professional goals and believe their current salary is high enough with average annual increases, the L&D offered by their employer might be just the key incentive they’re looking for in a company.

If the L&D offerings from an employer result in employees learning new skills, increasing productivity, and reducing company turnover, consider who receives the most long-term benefits.  If the skills and productivity you gained from the company’s L&D result in a raise or promotion, that’s great.  Not only does the company benefit from your increased productivity but you also come out on top with a higher salary.  This seems fair, the company improves its efficiency which improves the bottom line and you receive a significant salary increase.

What You Receive From Your Learning and Development Growth

Now what happens in a situation where the company is the only benefactor from the L&D investment?  For professionals who want to make the jump from associate to manager or from manager to senior manager, the L&D offered might not be enough to make the bigger career leap.  This is where employer-provided L&D can fall short and leave the aspiring managers and middle managers behind, and often results in people leaving the company they feel like they can’t progress upwards in.  When it comes to this specific group of aspiring professionals, I have not experienced a company in my 20+ career that successfully provides the complete structure to provide adequate coaching and mentorship for this specific demographic.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.  I have to believe there are some organizations that do a great job deploying and sustaining such leadership programs, I just haven’t witnessed it.

ROI From Coaching

My experience with associate-to-manager or from manager-to-senior manager programs has been on the local level of the company where local leaders take it upon themselves to create and deploy development programs.  I was a part of these programs and I’m extremely proud of what the programs accomplished.  I created coaching programs where nothing existed before and deployed them to create coaching and development strategies that could be learned and utilized by other leaders of the company to promote growth within.  The results and impacts on those receiving the coaching were life-changing.  Imagine someone promoted from an associate-level role to manager resulting in a $10k-$15k salary increase.  That’s what I mean when I say life-changing.  That level of salary increase for someone who already had the ability to develop and grow with the right coach supporting them changed their entire career trajectory.

I believe this is the kind of leadership coaching many people need in order to achieve significant changes in their careers.  As an example, if your salary increases by $10k-$15k after spending $1,500-$2,500 on professional coaching the ROI is immediate, significant, and continues to grow over time.

Are You Currently Earning What You Believe You Can Achieve?

In 2022, the national average for annual salary increases was 7.6% (Jack Flynn,  (Average increases vary greatly by state.  I suggest researching your geographic location for local averages.)  If your company is gaining productivity from your L&D growth but you’re not gaining the salary or career progression you envisioned, a small investment now can result in significant returns for you.  If you enjoy your work but yearn to have a bigger impact while earning a salary that matches, I’m not suggesting you try job-hopping or other drastic measures to obtain it.  I don’t think all companies have the structure to provide all levels of L&D for every employee, but you can take action to give yourself the tools needed to succeed.

We’re all different and unique, and that’s where a leadership development coach can provide the most efficient and individualized support for those who meet the criteria for being at risk of falling through the corporate cracks.

I believe all aspiring leaders and middle managers can greatly benefit from the guidance of a coach.  The ROI from leadership development coaching can be significant and multiplies your leadership skills and career opportunities.  If you fit that criteria or are experiencing a similar situation I encourage you to take a look at your options and take action on what it takes to receive a well-deserved ROI that can change your life.

Link to my FREE Career Satisfaction Worksheet

Philip Hilt – Leadership & Career Coach

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