Did you know that leadership coaching is now scientifically proven? And that Coaching Psychology is most effective of all?
The scientific basis for leadership coaching, and especially for the newer discipline of coaching psychology, has been steadily growing over the last 15 years. We now know that leadership coaching is effective, and what it is effective at achieving. We also know much more about how leadership coaching works, for whom, and when.
In this series of 3 linked blogs, Consultant Coaching Psychologist and Executive Coach, Dr Fiona Day brings us up to date with the latest research evidence relating to the science underpinning leadership coaching and Coaching Psychology.
Does Leadership Coaching Work?
Whether you are a commissioner of coaching, user of coaching services, or a coach, the first question we all need to be able to answer is, does leadership coaching work at all? Once we have established whether coaching works, we can then start to ask more complex questions – such as how does coaching work, and for whom, and when.
Multiple research studies have concluded that coaching works. However we can only have ‘confidence’ that these findings are real if we can repeat these studies in different contexts and with different researchers. Once we have a sufficient number of different research studies, we can then collate or synthesise the findings in a systematic way to draw out conclusions which we can then – finally – be confident are ‘real’ findings, rather than just one-off coincidences.
At the top of the evidence-base ladder in terms of establishing effectiveness is a research practice called a ‘meta-analysis’. This is a scientific, systematic method of synthesising the evidence base for any particular intervention, whether it be a new medicine or the practice of workplace coaching.
And the good news is that….
Nine meta-analyses have found positive benefits from leadership coaching!
Coaching researchers have now completed nine meta-analyses to establish the answer to the question ‘does leadership coaching work?’. All nine meta-analyses have concluded that, yes, leadership coaching does work. That is to say, leadership coaching has been found to effective for a wide range of different factors at both organisational and individual levels.
What organisational outcomes can be expected to result from leaders and managers receiving leadership coaching?
Leadership coaching for leaders and or managers has been consistently found to not only make a difference to the individual being coached, but has wider benefits across the organisation. Improved satisfaction is consistently found in the leader/manager’s direct reports, as has improved general work engagement, increased employees’ organisational commitment, and increased sense of psychological empowerment in the wider organisation. Leadership coaching reduces wider organisational strain, and reduces turnover intentions.
What individual outcomes can be expected to result from leaders and managers receiving leadership coaching?
As well as the organisational benefits described above, leadership coaching results in significant positive effects for the individual being coached. These include:
Improved thinking (cognitive) outcomes such as the ability to plan, to set high quality goals, to make necessary internal (psychological) and external changes to achieve those goals, to be more self-aware, to take more responsibility for one’s own learning, to exert more self control, and to be more adaptable and flexible in one’s thinking.
Improved emotional and wellbeing outcomes such as feelingsatisfied with one’s work, career, private life, and one’s coaching achievements. Greater emotional wellbeing and coping and reduced stress, more positive work – and personal- attitudes, feeling motivated to apply one’s new knowledge in the work environment, higher commitment to the organisation, greater sense of self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem. Additional benefits such as greater motivation, use of initiative, and improved social integration are all consistently found.
Improved skills outcomes such as improved work performance and skills. This is achieved through greater strategic thinking, better decision making, improved communication and interpersonal skills, as well as greater transformational leadership styles and improved 360’ leadership ratings, and improved management of resources such as better use of one’s time.
The evidence base for coaching has been growing rapidly in the last 13 years and the focus of research is now moving away from the question ‘does coaching work’ to ‘does it last’ and ‘how and for whom does it work’. In the next blog, Fiona will talk about the longer-term effects of leadership coaching, and the particular benefits of psychologically-informed coaching.
Dr Fiona Day is a former Board level medical leader and is now one of the UK’s leading executive coaches. She is independently accredited by the British Psychological Society as a Chartered Psychologist in Coaching Psychology, and by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) as a Master Practitioner.
Further reading in this series:
Part 3 – How does coaching work?