Getting ready for take-off?

Building Services Markets Consultant

What needs to be done to get Executive Coaching operating effectively in Nigeria? And why does this matter?

The executive and business coaching market in Nigeria can best be described as ‘nascent’, according to research conducted by Creative
 on behalf of FSD Africa on ‘Building the Market for Executive Coaching in Nigeria.’ It is estimated that there are only between 10 and 20 credible, accredited and experienced executive coaches in the country – for a population of about 174 million people. There is also no locally available coach training course that offers a route to internationally recognised accreditation. The Nigerian market includes both accredited and non-accredited coaches, but with an emphasis on life and spiritual coaching. From the research, “there are coaches coaching in the corporate space but they are life coaches…, so companies are not seeing the impact of coaching on the business side.”

Low coaching supply is also compounded by low levels of demand; with low levels of understanding the link between coaching and business results alluded to above. One coach interviewed in the study stated that, “there is confusion in understanding the three terms: coaching, mentoring and consulting.”

Business leaders also expect coaches to have knowledge appropriate to the industries where executives are being coached, as well as a strong track record and ‘gravitas’, on top of their coaching skills. A banking HR Director stated that acceptance of a coach would entail, “how successful you have been in what you have done? If the coach cannot impress me, I’ll be switched off.”

Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey on coaching looked into the question of value and concluded that value is provided to both Executives and businesses – “As the business environment becomes more complex, [leaders] will increasingly turn to coaches for help in understanding how to act. The kind of coaches I am talking about will do more than influence behaviors; they will be an essential part of the leader’s learning process, providing knowledge, opinions, and judgment in critical areas. However, the study also cautions – A big problem that tomorrow’s professional coaching firm must resolve is the difficulty of measuring performance….”

A further study by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) listed the following benefits from Executive Coaching:

  • 80% of coaching clients report a positive change in work performance, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and relationships
  • 7% of coaching clients report “very satisfied
  • 2% say they would repeat it under same circumstances
  • Individual clients have seen a median return of 3.44 times the investment.

Lack of information in the Nigerian market is the largest current barrier to the industry’s growth. This information gap can be readily addressed by:

  • Education on what coaching is, how it differs from other capacity building leadership initiatives, and what it is not;
  • Information on accredited coaches in the market and minimum accreditation requirements;
  • Information on the business case for coaching and evidence of its impact.

FSD Africa believes that coaching in Nigeria could be poised for take-off, although effective demand is currently low, there is an appreciation amongst market participants that coaching is an enabler of business success, and resolving these informational gaps will serve to catalyse the markets’ growth.