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What Works in Executive Coaching: Understanding Outcomes Through Quantitative Research and Practice-Based Evidence
Erik de Haan
Routledge / Softcover / 2021-04-01 / 0367649438
Coaching & Career Counseling
reg price: $47.50 our price: $ 45.13
182 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

This book reviews the full coaching outcome research literature to examine the arguments and evidence behind the use of executive coaching. Erik de Haan presents the definitive guide to what works in coaching and what changes coaching brings about, both for individual coaches and for organisations and commissioners.

Accessibly written and based on contemporary quantitative research into coaching effectiveness, this book considers whether we know that coaching works, and, if so, whom it works for, and what it offers to those involved. What Works in Executive Coaching considers the entire body of academic literature on quantitative research in executive and workplace coaching, assessing the significant results and explaining how to apply them. Each chapter contains direct applications to coaching practice and clearly evaluates the evidence, defining what really works in executive coaching.

Alongside its companion volume Critical Moments in Executive Coaching, this book is an essential guide to evidence-based effectiveness in coaching. It will be a key text for all coaching practitioners, including those in training.


'This is a great contribution to the practice and science of coaching… This book celebrates the exciting journey of discovery that workplace coaching scholars have achieved to date and on the same breath highlights areas that need to be further addressed.' — Dr Gil Bozer

'This book will be an instant classic! It can advance coaching research in many ways. Not only does it provide a comprehensive review of the literature to date, it also reviews this literature in an open, critical, courageous, and creative way... This book should be on the reading list for everyone who is professionally involved in coaching in any way.' — Dr Tim Theeboom

'Thank you for the opportunity to read your new book which builds bridges and at the same time offers both interesting controversies and new impulses. I love the way you write: well understandable; reflective; tying all these loose ends in coaching research; and interesting for both practitioners and researchers.' — Professor Patrizia Ianiro-Dahm

'I found this book extremely interesting, very well written and actually a pleasure to read. I loved the vignettes at the beginning of each chapter: they fit very well. I also appreciated that every chapter starts with the controversies – as a way to acknowledge the issues even before the successes of coaching, which is rare compared to a lot of the uncritical enthusiasm that coaching often elicits.' — Professor Silvia Dello Russo

'I like that this book provides an eminently clear expression of the factors that contribute to quality in quantitative research in coaching and overviews the intricacies of research in a way that is accessible and should increase the research literacy of readers. What I especially appreciated was the view that good quality coaching research is bloody hard to do; something that (I suspect) is not so well appreciated… So much of what you say is not just relevant for practitioners and the purchasers of coaching, but also for researchers, who can sometimes become blinkered in their work and benefit from helpful reminders.' — Dr Gordon Spence

'This book presents the entire spectrum of empirical coaching research to date and depicts an almost complete status quo of coaching research.

The book is therefore suitable for researchers to identify the gaps that coaching research has not yet addressed and for practitioners of any school and any methodological background who either want to read up on the subject of effectiveness or are motivated to gain inspiration on how to enrich their coaching practice with evidence-based elements and "magic ingredients" that help their clients the most.

I am convinced that this book will be a future standard reference for coaching researchers and practitioners interested in evidence-based coaching and, despite the title, definitely is not limited to executive coaching.' – Dr Katharina Ebner, Senior Lecturer, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany; psychologist and career coach

'The author has captured a broad and comprehensive review of the research literature on what works, for whom, and under which circumstances regarding executive and workplace coaching. Combining quantitative research and practice-based evidence, this will be an inspiring text for both academics and professional coaching practitioners.' – Dr M. Josefina Peláez, Universitat Jaume I, Spain

Table of Contents:

Highlights of the book


An interlude before Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Does executive coaching work? Is coaching worth the effort?

Part A: Some controversies

Controversy 1: how universal and generalisable are the results?

Controversy 2: choice-supportive biases skewing the results towards false positives

Controversy 3: if the same people are asked to measure all variables, biases will result

Controversy 4: the Hawthorne effect

Controversy 5: realistic settings do not satisfy lab research conditions

Controversy 6: the diminishing power of statistical tests on the same data

Controversy 7: nonattendance of participants in coaching and in research

Controversy 8: nonrepresentative samples

Controversy 9: coaching is not very sharply defined

Part B: How to establish whether coaching works

Part C: Overview of outcomes of coaching research with randomised control groups

1 Randomised controlled experiments in health coaching

2 Randomised controlled experiments in workplace coaching

3 Limitations of past research

Part D: What it means for coaching practice

An interlude before Chapter 2

Chapter 2: What works in executive coaching? What makes coaching really worthwhile?

Part A: Some controversies

Controversy 1: What to do with studies of a different standard than RCTs?

Controversy 2: the technique versus common-factors debate

Controversy 3: difficult to compare different studies when they use different constructs

Controversy 4: where does ‘technique’ end and do ‘common factors’ begin?

Part B: How to establish the 'active ingredients'

Part C: Overview of more evidence with an eye for possible active ingredients of coaching

1 Overview of coaching outcome research I: evaluation or field studies

2 Overview of coaching outcome research II: incorporating objective outcome variables

3 Manager-as-coach research with objective outcome variables

4 Overview of coaching outcome research III: employing control groups

5 Overview of coaching research which compares conditions

6 Overview of coaching research which compares techniques of coaching

7 Overview of coaching research which compares virtual and face-to-face coaching

Part D: What it means for coaching practice

An interlude before Chapter 3

Chapter 3: The coaching relationship as ‘best predictor’? How does the working alliance help to achieve outcomes?

Part A: Some controversies

Controversy 1: does the ‘medical model’ apply?

Controversy 2: does the ‘therapy model’ apply?

Controversy 3: causality is still open to debate

Controversy 4: the puzzle of ‘the’ relationship

Controversy 5: what is core of ‘the’ relationship?

Controversy 6: how to optimise the relationship factor?

Part B: What we need to know about this ‘best predictor’

Part C: Overview of coaching relationship outcome research

1 A brief review of research on the coaching relationship

2 A brief review of relevant mentoring outcome research

3 Longitudinal research on the coaching relationship

4 An interpretation of these findings

5 Future research: time to think differently about active ingredients

Part D: What it means for coaching practice

An interlude before Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Which outcomes does coaching actually deliver? What does executive coaching work on?

Part A: Some controversies

Controversy 1: very high diversity of study methods

Controversy 2: some contradictory findings

Controversy 3: the possibility of moderation

Controversy 4: it's hard to see the wood for the trees, because of many weak results

Part B: How to establish different coaching outcomes

Part C: Overview of what we know about outcome measures

1 Changes to objective measures

2 Changes to multi-source performance measures

3 Changes to self-rated personality measures

4 Changes to self-rated preparedness or well-being measures

5 Changes to self-rated goal-attainment measures

6 Changes for the coach rather than the coachee

Part D: What it means for coaching practice

An interlude before Chapter 5

Chapter 5: What perceptual biases may be at play? Can we trust a coach’s perceptions of coaching?

Part A: Some controversies

Controversy 1: what is so bad about the biases in self-scores?

Controversy 2: what is so bad about using self-scores for research?

Controversy 3: is the distinction between self- and other-scores not artificial?

Part B: How to establish coaching self-perception outcomes

1 Research showing coaching changes personal ratings of performance

2 Research showing the coach’s mindset about change is an important predictor of outcomes

3 Research showing that mindsets of coach and coachee about change strengthen one another

4 Research showing that coaches develop perceptual biases in looking at their own skills

Part C: Overview of what we know about perceptual biases in coaches about their own coaching

1 A brief review of research on coaching interventions

2 Research on coaching interventions using the Coaching Behaviours Questionnaire

3 Significant differences found for gender, age, job, and nationality of the coach

4 An interpretation of these findings

Part D: What it means for coaching practice

An interlude before Chapter 6

Chapter 6: What about negative side effects of coaching? Are there risks? Can coaching do harm?

Part A: Some controversies

Controversy 1: can we actually treat ‘negative’ outcomes separate from ‘positive’ ones?

Controversy 2: is there an assumption that reported experiences are significant outcomes?

Controversy 3: there seems to be a difference between the coaching and mentoring literature

Part B: How to establish negative side effects of coaching

Part C: Overview of what we know about side effects

Part D: What it means for coaching practice

1 What do coaches need to know about negative (side) effects in coaching?

2 What expert advice can we give to coaches who want to do quantitative research?

3 What moral advice can we give to coaches who want to do quantitative research?


Subject Index

Author Index

About the Author:

Erik de Haan studied Theoretical Physics and undertook his PhD in Psychophysics. He is Director of the Ashridge Centre for Coaching at Hult International Business School, UK, and Professor of Organisation Development at the VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is the programme leader of Ashridge's MSc in Executive Coaching and PG Diploma in Organisational Supervision. He has published more than 200 professional and research articles and 14 books, covering his expertise as an organisational consultant, therapist, and executive coach.

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