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Coaching leaders in middle and executive management: goals, performance, buy‐in

Stephen Bowles (Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland, USA)
Christopher J.L. Cunningham (Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)
Gabriel M. De La Rosa (Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)
James Picano (Department of Veteran Affairs Northern California, Martinez, California, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 17 July 2007




This article aims to test the effectiveness of coaching for middle and executive level managers within a large recruiting organization.


Participants set goals to achieve during a 12‐month coaching programme. The sample consisted of middle managers (n=30) and executive managers (n=29) involved in US Army recruiting. Outcomes included measures of coached participants' achievement of quota and personal goals, and assessment on nine leader competencies and buy‐in over the one‐year coaching period.


Coached managers outperformed un‐coached, but experienced/incumbent counterparts. The strongest impact of coaching on performance was for middle managers and their subordinates (as opposed to executive managers). Both groups of participants demonstrated growth on some dimensions of recruiter‐leader competencies and achievement of self‐set goals.

Research limitations/implications

A small and nontraditional sample of military recruiters was used. Future researchers can build on the approach outlined here to more concretely evaluate the impact of their coaching efforts in other populations.

Practical implications

Coaching all recruiter managers could translate into a return on investment of several thousand additional recruits. In addition, the achievement of personally relevant goals with the help of coaching, the development of leader competencies indicates real benefit associated with this form of goal‐based coaching.


We offer one of the first empirical evaluations of the effectiveness of a goal‐based leader coaching intervention. Practitioners and researchers can benefit from this approach by using it to improve coaching effectiveness and demonstrate value to the clients they serve.



Bowles, S., Cunningham, C.J.L., De La Rosa, G.M. and Picano, J. (2007), "Coaching leaders in middle and executive management: goals, performance, buy‐in", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 388-408.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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