Understanding Coaching Effectiveness - Brave Conversations Involved In Research

The Institute of Coaching (an affiliate of Harvard Medical School) has provided a grant for research into some aspects affecting coaching effectiveness.  I have been taking part in the research as a coach with one client.  See below for further details and watch this space for results in July 2018.

Research in progress: The Contribution of Common Factors to Coaching Effectiveness: Lessons from Psychotherapy Outcome Research

As the coaching industry grows, it is necessary to develop coaching effectiveness measurements to sustain coaching credibility (Gray, 2011). Coaching needs robust quantitative outcome studies and meaningful coaching effectiveness measures based on findings from more advanced psychotherapy outcome research (De Haan & Duckworth, 2012; McKenna & Davis, 2009).  

The aim of this randomized control trials project is to contribute to the development of a comprehensive coaching outcome effectiveness model by testing the hypothesised contribution of a range of common factors - quality of coaching relationship, self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, hope and external factors such as perceived social support and psychological well-being - in relation to coaching outcomes such as goal attainment, perceived stress and resilience.

This randomised-control group evidence-base study uses an experimental design. Two samples, an experimental group and a control group with 100 students in each group, were randomly selected from the London-based ‘University of Greenwich’ Business Faculty. An experimental group receives a coaching intervention (six coaching sessions conducted via audio Skype over a period of 6 months) whereas a control group receives no intervention.  The coaching intervention is standardised by using experienced coaches who were trained and accredited by Ashridge Business School in the United Kingdom. 

Data is collected monthly, via Qualtrics software, over a period of 6 months with a follow-up collection 3 months after completing the experiment. The statistical analysis will take four parts: first, the psychometric validation of measures in the model; second, the estimation of the shape and extent of change over time in the outcomes, and variation between individuals in this change; third, testing whether variation in the extent and shape of change in goal attainment, resilience and perceived stress is explained by receiving coaching (i.e., experimental vs control group); and fourth, whether any impact of coaching on these outcomes is mediated by the level of, or change in the antecedents. 

The findings generated from the study will contribute to the development of a comprehensive coaching outcome effectiveness model by incorporating psychotherapy outcome research and by statistically testing and validating coaching outcome measures. 

Grant Recipients: Joanna Molyn, Erik de Haan and David Gray


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Finding the right one... A simple check-list for choosing an Executive Coach.

Making the right decision on an Executive Coach can be tricky.  After all, unless you can be a fly on the wall and observe or experience their work, how do you know they are any good and worth your, or the company’s money? 

Of course you could use the human being selection criteria – Do I like you?  People ‘buy’ people after all. 

If you’d like something a little more robust to add to that, the criteria below may be of use.

1.     COACHING EXPERIENCE – Do they have at least 5 years’ worth?  Have they worked with people at all levels and in all functions?  This will ensure they are well rounded and have a breadth of understanding from which to draw when asking questions.

2.     BUSINESS EXERIENCE – At least 7 years in business, some of which at a leadership level.  Executive coaches benefit from having first hand experiences of how businesses function.  Roles in Leadership help with empathy for clients and perspective.

3.     ACCREDITATION – This demonstrates that the coach has approached their executive coach training in a professional manner and that they are hitting high level professional standards and fulfilling a set of acknowledge criteria in their work.  Either ICF or EMCC accreditation.

4.     QUALIFICATIONS/TRAINING (FROM REPUTABLE PROVIDERS) – Have they done a bit of ‘life-coaching’ training with one of the many providers that certify you over a weekend?  Or do they have a Masters in Executive Coaching? – there is quite a difference.  Ashridge, CTI and OCM are all good training providers.  It is also beneficial for coaches to have an understanding of Emotional Intelligence, MBTI/Insights and NLP, these are useful items to have in the ‘tool bag’ but as stand-alone qualifications, they should cause concern. 

5.     THEIR STYLE – An Executive coach is not there to provide the solution or to be overly directive.  A relational or co-active approach supports the client and allows the coach to be themselves while the ownership of the session and outcomes lies with the coachee.  They also coach the ‘whole person’ not just the business man/woman.

6.     PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT – A good executive coach will be able to tell you what their on-going plan is to continually upskill.  Do they have a network that they use to keep up-to-date with industry developments? 

7.     SELF-AWARENESS - They should be clear on their areas of strength and development and also on which clients/situations they are suitable for as well as the ones they are not.  Are they Brave enough to say ‘no’ if they don’t believe they are the right coach for you/your associate? 

8.     SUPERVISION – Supervisors ensure that executive coaches are working on their skills all the time and that they are focused on the on-going coaching relationship with their clients.  Supervision adds to the ability of the coach to arrive for each session fully prepared and aware.  Undertaking supervision also helps executive coaches to remain within ethics and boundaries.

9.     FEEDBACK – What do previous clients say about their work?  Can the executive coach provide you with a phone number and name of a reputable person who will spare 5 minutes to be a reference point for them?

10.  TRUST – And back to the human factor; based on your gut instinct, would you trust them? 



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Build Resilience and Gain Perspective with a Walk Outdoors

Let's go, right now..... Too busy?

Really? How about first thing before the demands of work? At coffee break or lunch? After that all morning meeting? With a colleague for a chat. At the weekend for some time to reflect on the week or with family looking at all nature has to offer. There’s always a way.

Walking outside has so many benefits that lead to improved quality of mental and physical health making us more resilient to the pressures of everyday life. 

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir.

Healers from Ayurveda to Chinese medicine have long advocated nature exposure as a form of medicine. I doubt Muir knew that walking changes the brain waves from a beta state of wakefulness, quick-thinking and multi-tasking to a slower alpha state more akin to deep relaxation which allows for clearer thinking, problem solving and creativity. Or, that we get more endorphins from blood flowing to the muscles and the brain through movement. However, he did know, that walking outdoors was of benefit. He is not alone. Aristotle is said to have taught as he walked while sharing and exploring ideas with his followers who became known as ‘peripatetic philosophers’. St Augustine, the 4th century philosopher is credited with the quote ‘solvitur ambulando’ – we solve it by walking. And, in more recent times both Steve Jobs and Marc Zuckerberg have been known for holding meetings while walking. 

It’s such a great feeling to get out there and feel fresh air and daylight on your skin, to warm up and loosen up (physically and metaphorically) while walking, and to enjoy watching a robin hop from branch to branch. 

The simple things in life are free.

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