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What constitutes evidence-based coaching? A two-by-two framework for distinguishing strong from weak evidence for coaching 1

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There has been an almost exponential growth in the amount of coaching-specific and coaching-related research over the past ten years. At the same time there has been considerable interest in the development of evidence-based approaches to coaching, and many coaching practitioners have incorporated the phrase into their terms of reference for their practice. However, these is still a lack of clarity about what constitutes evidence based coaching, and there have been few, if any, published guidelines about how to determine the relevance of different bodies of research to coaching practice. This article discusses the nature of evidence-based practice as it relates to coaching and then presents a two-by-two framework that highlights the relevance of a broad range of research to evidence-based coaching practice. The aim of this paper is to help further develop a more nuanced view of evidence-based approaches to coaching practice.
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International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring
Vol. 14, No. 1, February 2016
Page 74
What constitutes evidence-based coaching?
A two-by-two framework for distinguishing
strong from weak evidence for coaching1
Anthony M Grant, Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney, Australia
Contact Email: anthony.grant@sydney.edu.au
Abstract
There has been an almost exponential growth in the amount of coaching-specific and
coaching-related research over the past ten years. At the same time there has been
considerable interest in the development of evidence-based approaches to coaching, and
many coaching practitioners have incorporated the phrase into their terms of reference
for their practice. However, these is still a lack of clarity about what constitutes evidence-
based coaching, and there have been few, if any, published guidelines about how to
determine the relevance of different bodies of research to coaching practice. This article
discusses the nature of evidence-based practice as it relates to coaching and then presents
a two-by-two framework that highlights the relevance of a broad range of research to
evidence-based coaching practice. The aim of this paper is to help further develop a more
nuanced view of evidence-based approaches to coaching practice.
Key words: evidence-based coaching; coaching research; evidence-based practice
Introduction
The volume of published material associated with coaching has increased substantially
over the past ten years. This growing body of knowledge spans a broad range from
rigorous coaching-specific research (both qualitative and quantitative), to basic research
in disciplines not specifically related to coaching (Bartlett II, Boylan, & Hale, 2014;
Beattie et al., 2014; Grant, Passmore, Cavanagh, & Parker, 2010). The diversity of this
material (and the accompanying sense of information overload), can make it difficult for
both researchers and practitioners to grasp the relevance of specific information from the
developing knowledge base and engage in an evidence-based approach in their own
personal coaching practice (Bawden & Robinson, 2009).
This article briefly discusses the nature of evidence-based practice as it relates to
coaching. It then presents a framework that delineates the relevance to evidence-based
coaching practice of a broad range of coaching-related research, ranging from coaching-
1 This article draws on and utilises material and concepts from a forthcoming chapter: Grant, A. M.
(forthcoming). Coaching as Evidence-Based Practice: The View through a Multiple-Perspective
Model of Coaching Research. In T. Bachkirova, G. Spence & D. Drake (Eds.), The Sage Handbook
of Coaching. London: Sage.
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specific research to noncoaching-specific research. The aim of this paper is to help
further develop a more nuanced view of evidence-based approaches to coaching practice.
Origins of the concept of evidence-based coaching
Adapted from its original use in medical contexts (Sackett, Haynes, Guyatt, &
Tugwell, 1996) the term evidenced-based coaching was coined at the Coaching
Psychology Unit in the University of Sydney in 2003 as a way of distinguishing between
coaching that is explicitly grounded in the broader empirical and theoretical knowledge
base, and coaching that was developed from the pop psychology, personal development
genre.
At the time this term was coined the intention was merely to have an expression that
indicated that here was an approach to coaching that sought to be grounded on firm and
coherent foundations empirical and theoretical foundations that would allow a
discipline of coaching to develop with the same gravitas as other helping professions
such as counselling or clinical psychology. Indeed, at the time the term was more
aspirational than actual.
However, the notion of evidence-based coaching seems to have resonated with many
people in the coaching industry globally (e.g., Cox & Ledgerwood, 2003; Larsen,
Kilburn, & Myszak, 2007). A search of Google Scholar in December 2015 using the key
words evidence-based coaching returned 2,400 hits and a search in Google returned
43,400 hits. There are now peer-reviewed academic journals focusing on evidence-based
coaching, university postgraduate degree courses emphasising evidence-based coaching,
and many coaching practitioners who have incorporated the phrase into their terms of
reference.
What does evidence-based coaching really mean?
But what does evidence-based coaching really mean? The concept has sparked quite
vigorous debate on the role of scientific evidence in coaching, and what constitutes
evidence (e.g., Drake, 2009). Such debate makes a significant contribution to helping
coaching as a discipline not to be confined within the ridged boundaries of (say) a medical
or reductionist paradigm (Cox, 2011). This is important because the term evidenced-
based within medical contexts is almost synonymous with double-blind randomised-
controlled trials and mechanistic manualised treatment protocols. A key underpinning
notion in the medical context is that research should dictate practice. However, this is
not the case in relation to coaching. Coaching engagements are not medical interventions
that follow prescribed regimes. The nonclinical, nonmedical context of coaching means
that the medical understanding of evidence-based practice may be unsuitable for
coaching – although few would argue that applying evidence to practice is not a valuable
way of further developing coaching as a discipline.
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A broad definition of evidence-based coaching
Hence I take a broader and less reductionist view of evidence-based practice than is
typically found in medical contexts. I draw on the assumption that translating research
into coaching practice (and conversely translating coaching practice into coaching
research) can optimise outcomes and lead to more rigorous (and vigorous) coaching
research and practice. From this perspective both empirical evidence and professional
wisdom (wisdom being comprised of experience, knowledge, and good judgement) have
considerable and often equal value. Consequently I prefer to employ a more
sophisticated understanding of the term “evidence-based” and refer to the intelligent and
conscientious use of relevant and best current knowledge integrated with professional
practitioner expertise in making decisions about how to deliver coaching to coaching
clients and in designing and delivering coach training programs (adapted from Sackett,
et al., 1996; Stober & Grant, 2006).
What is evidence? How can we best collect it?
A key notion in evidence-based practice in medicine is that research methodologies
(and the evidence derived from them) can be classified as being “good” or “poor”. In
medical science (and those sections of psychology that seek to emulate the medical
model) the typically accepted gold standard of research is the evidence collated from
meta-analyses – systematic reviews of a number of randomised controlled trials (RCTs)
(Kaptchuk, 2001). At the next level of the research hierarchy is the evidence collected
from the RCTs themselves. These are studies where participants have been randomly
allocated to a treatment or a control group. Double-blind RCTs, where neither the
researcher nor the participant knows which group they are in, are clearly useful for testing
of new therapeutic medications. These studies are used with the aim of giving
researchers as much control over extraneous influencing factors as possible. The
emphasis at this end of the research hierarchy is on quantitative data; data that can be
counted and statistically analysed.
Figure 1: The traditional evidence-based hierarchy
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As indicated in Figure 1, at the next level are between-subject studies. These are
studies that use a control group as a comparison to a treatment group, but without the
randomisation found in RCTs. Next sit the within-subject studies that use pre and post
measures from a single group of people. Below these sit cross-sectional studies which
are descriptive or correlational studies. These can give good insights into the
relationships between various factors, but cannot give insight into causal factors. Case
studies come next in the hierarchy.
Case studies are typically qualitative in nature. Here the research emphasis is usually
on understanding the nature or the meaning of subjective experience, and this can be from
an individualistic or organisational perspective. They are normally conducted using
various interview techniques and have the potential to produce rich and highly insightful
narratives rather than numerical data that can be statistically analysed. Finally, at the
base of the hierarchy are professional articles in non peer-reviewed publications,
opinions, editorials and anecdotal reports.
Those who subscribe to the medical model tend to place far greater emphasis and
value on the upper parts of the hierarchy. Indeed, most people would agree that RCTs
are the best way thoroughly to test the effectiveness of medical interventions such as new
drug treatments. However, as previously mentioned, coaching is not medicine. Indeed,
given that much coaching does not follow prescribed or manualised treatment regimes,
the medical model may be a somewhat inappropriate framework from which to develop
an evidence-based approach to coaching.
It is important to recognise that each level in the evidence-based hierarchy has its
own unique and valuable characteristics. The evidence gained from each level tells a
slightly different type of story, and the evidence gathered at each level will speak to
different audiences. For example, the quantitative outcome or ROI data produced from
RCTs or within-subject studies is more likely to resonate with a group of sceptical
scientists or business audiences than a qualitative detail-rich exploration of personal
experiences of coaching. Thus, from this perspective and in contrast to the medical
approach, one level is not deemed better than another in the coaching context; rather each
has its different uses. If we cannot say that one is better than another, we can only really
say that one is better suited to the situation in which we seek to use that evidence.
It is also important to recognise that evidence in coaching does not just come from
scientific empirical research. Evidence is defined as the available body of facts or
information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid (OED, 2012). As
such evidence is not limited to the research outputs or scientific studies. Evidence simply
means information – and all kinds of information can count as evidence, just as long as
it is valid, reliable and relevant. Bearing in mind that some evidence is more reliable
than others, this perspective allows for multiple voices from both researchers and
informed practitioners (for an in-depth deconstruction of the term “evidence” see Drake,
2009).
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Practitioner expertise and empirical research
Figure 2 illustrates the joint contributions of professional practitioner expertise and
empirical evidence. Professional wisdom consists of individual experience about what
works in one’s coaching practice with one’s clients. The individual coach’s perspective
is important here because coaching is typically an idiosyncratic intervention, not least
because the coach-coachee relationship is a major factor in coaching outcomes, and that
relationship is by its very nature idiosyncratic.
Although individual views are important, sole reliance on them may result in a
myopic perspective. Hence the practitioner group consensus, which allows for multiple
perspectives about what works, is also important. This is not to say that practitioner
group experience can present an unbiased or objective view on what works. Within any
group or subgroup of professionals there are political and social forces at play which will
shape the emerging narrative or consensus about what is the best or right way.
Nevertheless, regardless of its limitations, it is clear that practitioner wisdom has a vital
role in shaping understandings of evidence-based coaching.
The right hand side of Figure 2 represents the role of empirical evidence gathered
from research. The first issue to be addressed here related to the boundaries between
practitioner experience and formal research. There is a sense in which practitioner
experience gained as a result of professional coaching practice can be rightly considered
to be research (or evidence). However, following the rationale outlined by a number of
eminent authors in the action learning sphere (e.g., Argyris & Schön, 1992; Revans,
1982), I argue that there is an important distinction between information gained in one’s
professional practice and information gained through formal research initiatives.
Figure 2: The contributions of practice and research to evidence-based coaching
In the context of professional practice, the primary purpose is the improvement of
practice. The emphasis is on practical significance, and this information tends to be
shared through contacts with one’s colleagues, professional or industry associations. In
contrast, the aim of formal research is to produce more generalisable knowledge that
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contributes to the broader knowledge base. The emphasis is often on theoretical
significance rather than practical application, and the information tends to be shared
primarily through peer-reviewed publications, academic conferences, and only then is it
disseminated for professional purposes. They are different and they make different
contributions to an evidence-based approach to coaching (see Table One).
Academic Researcher
Practitioner
Primary purpose of
conducting research
Production of knowledge
Improvement of one’s professional
practice.
Emphasis on
Contributing to the knowledge base
and theoretical significance
Practical significance
Validation of
information
Knowledge is deemed “validated
only after a comprehensive analysis,
thorough documentation (typically in
rigid discipline-specific writing and
presentation style) and peer review
Factors that “validate” knowledge
include face validity, acceptance by
clients or stakeholders, pubic
receptivity, marketability, practical
applicability.
Dissemination of
information
Peer-reviewed publication and
academic conferences take place
before information is presented to
public/professional media
Shared though multiple channels
including professional associations,
industry contacts and clients, and social
media
Primary discourse
style
Discipline-specific jargon and (often
dense) academic language which
excludes non-academics
Easily accessible, to-the-point language,
designed to reach broad audience.
Table 1: Differences between researcher’s and practitioner’s approach to research
What constitutes empirical research evidence about coaching?
The second issue to be addressed relates to what constitutes empirical research
evidence about coaching. Here I propose two categories: 1) coach-specific research and
2) coaching research that is not specific to coaching but can be considered to be coaching-
related research.
Coaching-specific research involves studies that specifically focus on coaching with
coaching as the primary focus. These could include, for example, studies that examine
the effectiveness of coaching, the impact of coaching on a range of variables, or
qualitative research into the nature of effective coach-coachee relationships amongst
others. This would also include models or techniques from other non-coaching areas or
disciplines which can be directly applied in coaching practice examples here could
include cognitive behavioural techniques from clinical psychology, action learning
principles or adult learning theory.
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Coaching-related research involves studies that are not specifically focused on
coaching, but produce data that could be used in coaching practice or might indirectly
inform coaching practice. These could include, for example, research from economics,
management or organisational research, philosophical paradigms, systems theory,
neuroscience etc. However, in understanding what constitutes empirical evidence these
are not the only categories that count. We also need to consider the rigour and strength
of the evidence presented.
Strong evidence can be understood as information and evidence from well-designed
and peer-reviewed studies where the methodology is eminently suitable for the research
question being addressed, and the results have been replicated in a range of populations
where appropriate. It should be emphasised that this is an inclusive position that does
not automatically privilege (for example) randomised controlled studies over case
studies, as is the case in the medical model. Nor does this position privilege quantitative
research over qualitative research. Both approaches have much to offer. Rather this
position acknowledges that different research designs and approaches have utility for
addressing different research questions.
In contrast, weak evidence is when there are a small number of studies, limited
numbers of researchers/sources, limited numbers of research methodologies with limited
populations, or poor quality research design, for example with low statistical power or
inappropriate analyses. Typically, these are not peer reviewed, and this would include
opinion articles or anecdotal, unsubstantiated reports.
A two-by-two framework
A useful way to present the concepts discussed in this paper is through a two-by-two
diagram (see Figure 3). This figure is presented as a useful heuristic through which to
categorise and classify different bodies of research. No doubt there would be a wide
range of opinions as to which studies or which bodies of knowledge should sit within
each quadrant – and it should be noted that this framework is designed to be an aid to
those who wish to develop a more sophisticated understanding of evidenced-based
coaching rather than a definitive typology. Nevertheless, I would argue that well-
designed randomised controlled studies with a range of populations would be situated in
the top right hand quadrant (for examples see Theeboom, Beersma, & van Vianen, 2013),
along with other methodologies such as well-designed case studies (e.g., Libri & Kemp,
2006; Schnell, 2005), robust mixed method work (Bachkirova, Arthur, & Reading, 2015)
or extensive qualitative research (de Haan & Nies, 2015).
The bottom right hand quadrant encompasses research that is coaching-specific but
is not highly rigorous. This is not to say that such researchers set out to purposefully
produce research of low rigour. Such research may have been negatively impacted by
hard-to-access participant samples, major changes in research context (e.g., redundancies
or shifts in economic climate) over the course of the research, or any of the all-to-frequent
logistical challenges of conducting field research. Such studies could include
quantitative coaching-specific research that has a small size or is exploratory in nature
(e.g., Sherlock-Storey, Moss, & Timson, 2013). This section could also include
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qualitative coaching-specific research that has been poorly designed, or survey research
that has been conducted as a means of promoting a business offering or coaching service
(Corbett, 2006).
The top left hand quadrant represents well-designed coaching-related research; that
is research that closely aligns with coaching, but is not specifically about coaching.
Examples here could include empirical studies of the role of self-concordance in goal
striving and well-being (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999), review articles on the relationship
between goals and performance (Locke, 1996), reports on the impact of positive
psychology interventions (Bolier et al., 2013) or explorations of self-regulation
(Baumeister, Vohs, & Tice, 2007) amongst others. Included here also could be coaching-
related qualitative research exploring (for example) the lived experience of a person
undertaking a program of positive thinking (Thatcher, 2014).
Figure 3: A Two-by-two Framework for Determining the Relevance of Research to
Coaching Practice
The bottom left hand quadrant represents the poorest evidence for coaching.
Research in this area could include studies with low statistical power or inappropriate
analysis, conceptual incoherency or research with a focus that is only marginally related
to coaching. A useful example here is the use of fMRI brain scans and related aspects of
neuroscience being put forward as “proof” that coaching works (Rock & Schwartz,
2006). Despite much marketing material trumping the value of neuroscience as a
foundation for coaching practice, there are virtually no fMRI studies exploring the direct
links between coaching and specific regions of brain activity (for one interesting
exception see Jack, Boyatzis, Khawaja, Passarelli, & Leckie, 2013). Although
neuroscience studies may shine an informative light on the dynamics of brain
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functioning, very little (if any) of this body of research is directly related to observable
behavioural change in non-clinical populations – the main goal of coaching. In addition,
much neuroscience research has been heavily criticised for low statistical power and
inappropriate analysis (Button et al., 2013), thus further limiting the direct contribution
of neuroscience to an evidenced-based approach to coaching at this point in time.
Other examples in the bottom right quadrant could include research on body language
and non-verbal communication as applied to coaching (Matsumoto, Hwang, & Frank,
2016), the applicability of learning styles to the coaching relationship (Freedman &
Stumpf, 1978; Kolb & Kolb, 2013), research on emotional intelligence (Salovey &
Mayer, 1989) or research on the influence of birth order on career progression and
responsiveness to career coaching interventions (Leong, Hartung, Goh, & Gaylor, 2001).
The main point here is that research in this quadrant is typically only indirectly related to
coaching or that such research is either poorly conducted and/or has attracted significant
controversies.
The above examples in all four quadrants have been presented as illustrative
examples only. Coaches and researchers will themselves have to determine how they
would personally categorise the different types of research that they draw on in their own
coaching practice. Nevertheless, the framework presented here gives a useful tool for
refining understanding of the relative relevance of different bodies of research to
evidence-based coaching practice.
Summary
As the research related to coaching continues to grow, practitioners and researchers
both need ways of categorising the relevance of different bodies of research and their
relatedness to an evidence-based approach to coaching. The two-by-two framework
presented here may be one way that this can be achieved. As articulated in this article, a
more nuanced view of evidence-based practice than is typically found in medical contexts
is important, as coaching engagements are not medical interventions that follow
prescribed regimes. We need to continue to look beyond the medical model and
appreciate that all forms of research have something to contribute to the evidenced-based
coaching enterprise. We need to ensure that the contributions of both quantitative and
qualitative approaches are valued and utilised. Moreover, researchers and academics
must ensure that the voice of the practitioner continues to be heard. The responsibility
for the development of “evidenced-based” coaching sits not only with academics or
professional researchers –practitioners’ contributions are also a vital part of the
conglomeration of ideas, experience and research that coalesce to form evidence-based
coaching. In this way, evidence-based approaches to coaching can continue to develop
and to make important contributions to the well-being and performance of the individuals
and organisations which we serve.
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Dr Anthony Grant established the world's first Coaching Psychology Unit at the School of
Psychology at Sydney University where he is the director. He has co-written and co-edited
five books on evidence-based coaching and has many coaching-related publications in the
peer-reviewed and professional press. His books on coaching have been translated into eight
languages, and his is widely recognised as a key pioneer of coaching psychology.
... So, what is evidence-based coaching? Grant (2016) offers that it is: "intelligent and conscious use of relevant and best current knowledge integrated with professional practitioner expertise in making decisions about how to deliver coaching to coaching clients and in designing and delivering coach training programs". ...
... It is notable that often coaching research recognizes the contribution and importance of practitioner expertise (Garvey et al. 2018). Stober et al (2006) also support Grant's (2016) argument that evidence-based practice integrates scientific knowledge, practitioner's expertise and they add the coachee's context. They describe this as a scientist-practitioner coaching model. ...
... Therefore, reducing coaching to a few competencies may not help achieve the desired results. Stober et al. (2006) and Grant (2016), while recognizing the expertise of a practitioner, argue that evidence-based practice integrates scientific knowledge, practitioner's expertise and coachee's context. Competencies alone are like focusing on Aristotle's techne while 'nodding at' episteme and ignoring phronesis altogether. ...
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This paper explores the adequacy of existing coaching competency frameworks to address the complexities of coaching academic deans. The unit of analysis of this interpretative and evaluative case study is the coaching practice based on the core competencies as prescribed by ICF and EMCC. It uses five sources of evidence that converge to address the research question. The paper concludes that an evidence-based practice that integrates scientific knowledge with expertise of practitioners may be a more effective approach to coaching at the executive level such as Deans. A competent coach is not enough to generate inspired insights for complex coaching of Deans. A deeper understanding of the purpose, relevant learning theories and context are sufficient conditions for effective coaching engagements.
... By exploring team coaches' interpretations of relationship endings in practice, we can build our knowledge through lived experience (Merriman & Bierema, 2013) and explore how these seasoned practitioners have developed their craft. This study contributes to both evidence-based practice (Grant, 2016) and academic research. ...
... This raises a question around the additional theoretical development that is needed for a team coach to develop their craft. Therefore, this study draws upon research in the fields of organisational development and consulting, as well as business management (Grant, 2016). For clarity, these simplified definitions apply: ...
... However, Hawkins (2014) acknowledges that over 70 practitioners and academics have contributed to its' development. The literature (Hawkins, 2011; has been continuously updated through 'professional wisdom' (Grant, 2016). To date, the literature has suggested that the purpose of team coaching is to improve team effectiveness or develop high performing teams (Peters & Carr, 2013;Hawkins 2011;. ...
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All coaching and business relationships have an ending. Here we explore the reflections of experienced team coaches at this key stage of the client relationship. This is where coaches consider the choices they have made, how they responded to the client, their relationship to the wider organisation and the other key stakeholders. By seeking to explore how seasoned coaches interpret their experiences, we gain a window into how they have developed a mastery of their craft. Using an IPA methodology, this study contributes to evidence-based research in the discipline, practice, and purpose of systemic team coaching.
... For this up-skilling, an evidence base is sorely needed. Evidence-based practice (Grant, 2016) is a key element in coaching where practitioners draw on their own knowledge from various disciplines, including their professional expertise as coaches and coaching psychologists. Guek-Nee Ke argued for the inclusion of research methods training to equip practitioners with the necessary skill to contribute their expertise to a growing evidence base that can inform such lifelong learning and upskilling. ...
Conference Paper
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Coaches and coaching psychologists have been in a unique position to support the wellbeing of clients, teams, leaders and organisations through the challenges created by the pandemic. Based on a panel discussion at the International Psychology Conference Dubai (IPCD) 2021, hosted by Heriot-Watt University Dubai, it was argued that coaches have a role to play that extends beyond the present. Their work may also shape the future, contribute to the UN sustainable development goals and foster an environment of greater inclusion and equity. To do so, coaches also need to adapt, learn and change with continued learning about systemic and team coaching, leadership coaching in virtual and dispersed teams as well as coaching for wellbeing and positive psychology (PP). Coach wellbeing is key to this. By coaches ensuring they are at their best, with practitioner self-care, supervision sessions as well as coach support networks and peer-coaching groups, systemic transformation in wellbeing is more likely to take place. A new set of coaching skills and competencies may be called for, as well as ethics and industry frameworks to support it. The need for research in this field has never been greater to guide and inform these transitions. About the Panellists: Silvia King (MA, MAPPCP, MBPsS; Positivity International) is a positive psychology coach based in the UAE and UK. Her interests include cultural aspects of positive psychology and coaching/coaching psychology.
... Opting for individual, group-based, or a combination of both training approaches entails complex judgments related to the relative efficacy of the methods as well as dimensions such as accessibility, usability, retention, and cost. Individual training/coaching may be preferable in some instances, such as to improve knowledge or skills in relation to individual challenges and when requested physical attendance at a selected session with one coach/trainer is feasible (Grant, 2016;Tooth et al., 2013). Group-based intervention may be advantageous in terms of discussion with peers and to provide training on the learning content in small groups before it is tested in practice. ...
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Leadership interventions are increasingly popular, but their effects on self-leadership of leaders are largely unknown. The objective of the current study was to evaluate benefits of leadership interventions on leaders’ self-leadership capacities. The search encompassed studies published between 1986 and 2019. Included were randomized controlled trials (RCTs), controlled before-and-after studies (CBA), before-after studies without controls (BA), case studies, and qualitative longitudinal studies that examined potential effects of interventions on leaders' self-leadership capacities. Primary outcomes attributable to self-leadership theory and its strategies measured by validated instruments were extracted. A meta-analysis was conducted for quantitative controlled studies with comparable primary outcomes. Eleven studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria, with a total of 571 participants in leadership positions. Eight quantitative studies, two RCT studies, four quasi-experimental field studies with a pre-post design (CBA), and two intervention case studies (BA), were included. Three qualitative studies evaluated a comparable form of leadership development. All studies showed positive but small to medium-sized effects of leadership training on primary outcomes. Results of the review contribute to knowledge of the effectiveness of training for self-leadership capacities of leaders and identified gaps where evidence remains limited. The findings tentatively suggest that leadership interventions could be beneficial for developing self-leadership skills. Future studies should focus on content, frequency, and intensity of interventions. Mixed methods are strongly recommended.
Chapter
Whilst coaching has traditionally focused on enhancing performance, over recent years and with the emergence of positive psychology, the focus on outcomes has broadened to include wellbeing and resilience alongside performance. Within the field of positive psychology, a large focus has been on the scientific study of wellbeing and whilst academic debate continues, there is now a large body of accessible knowledge about what wellbeing is and what makes for a well-lived life. This includes the contribution of work as a protective factor that can enhance wellbeing but also act as a significant risk factor to physical and mental wellbeing. This chapter will explore the science of wellbeing and how it can be applied in the context of work through evidence-based coaching to support individuals, teams and organisations to flourish. Focusing on the PERMA model of wellbeing, it will explore how the experience of Positive Emotions; Engagement; Relationships; Meaning and Accomplishment are key to thriving workplaces and organisations.
Chapter
Neuroscience provides coaches with a compelling lens through which to view their coachee’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours. However, enthusiasm for integrating neuroscience into coaching often outpaces the coach’s knowledge of the subject matter. In addition, there is no empirical evidence for the use of neuroscience within positive psychology coaching (PPC) per se. To address these concerns, this chapter considers the lessons learned from two disciplines which have scrutinised the opportunities and limitations of translating neuroscience into practice: educational neuroscience (EN) in the classroom setting and psychoeducation (PE) in the mental health setting. Opportunities exist for the thoughtful development of neuroscience-informed coaching practice including (i) the development of neuroscience-informed content for coaching conversations (the ‘what’), (ii) the development of neuroscience-informed structures or tools for the delivery of coaching (the ‘how’), and (iii) validation of coaching efficacy using neuroscience technology (e.g. testing how coaching ‘works’). Attention needs to turn towards the training of coaches in how to assess, understand and integrate neuroscientific research to ensure the continuation of evidence-based coaching practice.
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The aim of the paper is to analyse one particular group coaching method and its implementation; to generalize the results of the authors' research on the use of group coaching in order to evaluate its impact on employee characteristics, performance and development. We analyse the method and implementation of group coaching to help develop an evidence-based approach to this method. Economic point developing of organizations and teams has led us to pay main attention to intra-organizational cooperation and problem solving. That is crucial to achieving economic results of private and public organizationst. In 2017-2019, trainings and studies were carried out in group coaching with 445 leaders and specialists from the private and public sector in Estonia. The authors conducted interviews and questionnaires after group coaching sessions and used the results of the group coaching participants' reports. An analysis of the data indicates that group coaching enables many benefits including problem solving, self-awareness, self-confidence and other person skills. It has also shown to strengthen employee self-reflection and develop cooperation skills and a better understanding of the aims and nature of their organization.
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Coaching facilitates the learning, growth, and performance of clients. This process is a natural fit for positive psychology intervention because of a shared emphasis on positive topics such as optimism, strengths, and motivation. Over the past 15 years in the field, the author’s opinions about positive psychology coaching have evolved. This paper outlines his current thinking, highlights how this thinking differs from earlier thoughts and offers practitioners specific issues for consideration. These include (A) creating conditions that will enhance the success of positive psychology interventions in coaching, (B) avoiding prescriptiveness, (C) accessing a wide range of positive psychological science to inform practice, and D) taking an ethical approach to intervention.
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Whereas coaching is very popular as a management tool, research on coaching effectiveness is lagging behind. Moreover, the studies on coaching that are currently available have focused on a large variety of processes and outcome measures and generally lack a firm theoretical foundation. With the meta-analysis presented in this article, we aim to shed light on the effectiveness of coaching within an organizational context. We address the question whether coaching has an effect on five both theoretically and practically relevant individual-level outcome categories: performance/skills, well-being, coping, work attitudes, and goal-directed self-regulation. The results show that coaching has significant positive effects on all outcomes with effect sizes ranging from g = 0.43 (coping) to g = 0.74 (goal-directed self-regulation). These findings indicate that coaching is, overall, an effective intervention in organizations.
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Executive coaching literature was investigated to uncover common themes within definitions, models and approaches, and effectiveness. An integrative literature review of 533 publications found relationship, goals, performance, and learning to be keywords used most often in defining executive coaching. The most prominent approaches included cognitive, and goal oriented coaching. Effectiveness was most often described as goal achievement, quality of relationships, and levels of trust and support. Finally, executive coaching was summarized as consisting of two critical tasks: 1) establishing a collaborative relationship, and 2) enhancing the vision of the learner. Effectiveness was determined by success in developing and implementing a systematic process that may be adapted to each learner and demonstrating the patience necessary to allow change to occur.
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This chapter provides a fresh look at the evidential needs in coaching by outlining important principles for: (1) the bases of evidence-based practice, (2) the nature of evidence itself, (3) the links between research and practice, (4) the uses of evidence, (5) the politics of evidence, and (6) the implications of evidence as a basis for coaching. The aim is to enhance our understanding of the "black box" of coaching, the body of knowledge specific to and foundational for coaching, and the development of shared guidelines for the use of evidence in coaching. Two models are introduced to support a new and relational view of evidence: one that identifies four domains of knowledge as the basis for mastery in coaching and the other that articulates a need for artistry as a way to draw on these domains in working with clients. Examples are offered to illustrate many of the key points and the article concludes with a vision for the future of evidence in coaching.
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This article outlines a small-scale exploratory study focusing upon the impact of a brief coaching intervention on participant levels of resilience in the face of organisational change. The study sought to pilot a brief, three-session resilience coaching programme and explore the impact upon participants’ reported levels of resilience and attitudes towards organisational change.
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Effective coaching and mentoring is crucial to the success of individuals and organizations, yet relatively little is known about its neural underpinnings. Coaching and mentoring to the Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) emphasizes compassion for the individual's hopes and dreams and has been shown to enhance a behavioral change. In contrast, coaching to the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA), by focusing on externally defined criteria for success and the individual's weaknesses in relation to them, does not show sustained change. We used fMRI to measure BOLD responses associated with these two coaching styles. We hypothesized that PEA coaching would be associated with increased global visual processing and with engagement of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), while the NEA coaching would involve greater engagement of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Regions showing more activity in PEA conditions included the lateral occipital cortex, superior temporal cortex, medial parietal, subgenual cingulate, nucleus accumbens, and left lateral prefrontal cortex. We relate these activations to visioning, PNS activity, and positive affect. Regions showing more activity in NEA conditions included medial prefrontal regions and right lateral prefrontal cortex. We relate these activations to SNS activity, self-trait attribution and negative affect.