World-class, professional coaching has arrived in the mainstream of IT executive development. We place it at the heart of our personal and team breakthrough programmes and build it into most of the team building and career development work we do. It is powerful and flexible because each coaching alliance can be perfectly tailored to meet the client’s individual set of immediate and longer term development needs.

And we’re no longer in any doubt about coaching’s business value. With a return on investment in excess of 500 per cent it is easier than ever to make the business case. With the help of an effective coach IT executives are proving to be more effective, more productive, less stressed and more innovative. On the softer skills side they are more available to colleagues, more present to the complexity of human relations, and more willing to engage in the emotional side of leadership.

Such dramatic effects on performance are well known in sports coaching of course, and it would be laughable for any young sporting talent to expect to achieve anywhere near full potential without the skills of a whole series of performance experts and coaches. We’ve known this for generations; perhaps this is why many of the CIO early adopters of executive coaching have sporting backgrounds.

Not every CIO excelled at competitive sports, of course, but some of you who did have done remarkably well. In this short sports quiz you are invited to figure out which top IT executives I’m talking about.

1 Metrix Global has produced the world’s most cited study on the ROI of executive coaching. Bottom line: coaching produced a 529 per cent return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business. The study provided powerful insights into how to maximize the business impact of executive coaching.

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Just answer these 12 questions:

1. This no-nonsense FTSE 100 CIO makes a point of investing in his teams to ensure they achieve their potential. Perhaps he learned the importance of this from the coaches he worked with playing rugby for the Scotland B team.

2. Lots of IT executives played soccer in their youth, but probably none to this level. Which FTSE 100 giant brands business CIO once played first team soccer for Dutch giants, Ajax?

3. Here’s another celtic CIO in a British world-leading business. Don’t be fooled by his thoughtful and understated approach to his leadership role; he was once Scottish judo champion.

4. This IT executive would do well on Desert Island Discs. Which international infrastructure manager has shot bows and arrows many times for England in competitions and won the world championship in 2005?

5. International champions can be found in the IT services community too: which well-known CIO network COO has won many national fencing championships and participated in the Sydney Olympics as a GB squad training partner?

6. Some CIOs are so well-rounded that they achieve sporting excellence in more than one discipline. Another Scot, this one operating in Scotland, has famously competed against two of our top English Steves: Steve Ovett in the 1,500 metres and Steve Redgrave in rowing.

7. Along the same all action-hero lines, which CIO has made over 100 parachute jumps and run across the Sahara Desert for charity?

8. Like many great coaches, CIOs have gone on to help other sportsmen to achievement levels which have surpassed even their own. Which CIO became an international badminton coach after his own playing days were over?

9. And which well-known IT contract lawyer is an international level rowing coach?

10. Other CIOs like this one find the best use of their talent is in sports administration. Which CIO achieved success as a minor counties batsman and has gone on to chair his County Cricket Board?

11. And which global CIO and Football League club director recently experienced the ecstasy of seeing his team make it to the league playoffs five years in a row?

12. The tie-breaker question: which less well-known IT executive played in goal for the England men’s hockey team?

Brinley Platts is chairman of