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Executive coaching effectiveness : a conceptual and empirical foundation
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posted on 22.03.2017by Bozer, Gil
Executive coaching is a relatively new managerial development intervention that continues to gain in popularity worldwide. Executive coaching has been described as one of the world’s fastest growing industries (Luebbe, 2005; Wasylyshyn, 2003) with multibillion dollar revenues (Ennis et al., 2004; Fillery-Travis & Lane, 2006; Garvey, Stokes, & Megginson, 2009; ICF, 2008; Orenstein, 2006; Ozkan, 2008). Despite the growing interest in executive coaching by both organisations and individuals and the increase in research on executive coaching, rigorous empirical research remains limited (Baron & Morin, 2009; Blackman, 2006; Bono, Purvanova, Towler, & Peterson, 2009; Evers, Brouwers, & Tomic, 2006; Feldman & Lankau, 2005; Grant, 2008; Gray, 2006; Jones, Rafferty, & Griffin, 2006; Kilburg, 2004; Natale & Diamante, 2005).
The purpose of this study was to develop a model of executive coaching effectiveness by identifying and examining the potential outcomes of executive coaching as reflected in enhanced individual outcomes. A related intention was to provide data to better inform individuals and organisations in the selection of coaches, coachees, and coaching approaches that produce the most positive behaviour change and overall performance outcomes on the part of the coachee. The study was conducted in two distinct phases. Phase 1 analysed the current literature on executive coaching and related areas. In Phase 2 of the study, the hypothesised research model combined with the research hypotheses guided a longitudinal quasi-experimental field pre-post design with an untreated control group (executive coaching vs. no executive coaching) design to further explore and examine the individual outcomes of executive coaching, and the relationships among the key components of effective executive coaching interventions.
The study relied on six individual outcomes of executive coaching as key dependent variables to measure the effectiveness of the coaching intervention. The individual outcomes refer to the behavioral, attitudinal, and cognitive benefits identified in previous research on executive coaching and experienced by the experimental group (i.e., coachees) as a result of engaging in an executive coaching program. These outcomes include increased levels of self awareness, increased levels of job affective commitment and career satisfaction, improvement in self-reported job performance, improvement in coachee job performance as reported by the coachee’s direct supervisor, and improvement in supervisory-rated task performance.
Comparison of the executive coaching group with the control group (who had not received executive coaching) revealed that the executive coaching group reported significantly greater improvement in career satisfaction compared with the control group. No significant effects were observed for the other dependent variables. The findings of the current study supported the four factor model of executive coaching effectiveness namely, coach characteristics, coachee characteristics, coach-coachee match, and proximal work group climate for coaching transfer.
As these findings show, responsibility for effectiveness in executive coaching engagement was shared among three constituents: the coachee, the coach, and the organisation. Effective executive coaching benefits from: Coachee feedback receptivity, pre-training motivation, learning-goal orientation, and developmental self-efficacy; Coach academic background in psychology and credibility; and Coach-coachee match including gender and perceived similarity. Additionally, a supportive proximal workgroup climate for coaching transfer plays a key role in influencing coachee receptivity to feedback and pre-training motivation, and is critical to the effectiveness of executive coaching.
The information from this study should assist in designing more effective executive coaching programs, and enable individuals and organisations in making informed decisions about implementing, and measuring executive coaching programs. These outcomes are important for the development of healthy individuals and organisations, and are essential to the long term success of executive coaching as a solid evidence-based field.