To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Agents of “influence”: exploring the usage, timing, and outcomes of executive coaching tactics

Melissa Lewis‐Duarte (Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA)
Michelle C. Bligh (School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 4 May 2012




Executive coaching is commonly utilized in organizations to facilitate the personal and professional growth of executives. Executive coaches utilize a variety of proactive influence tactics to create behavioral change in their clients. The current study aimed to examine coaches' perceived use and effectiveness of the outcome, timing, and objective of proactive influence tactics in coaching relationships.


Members of ten organizations affiliated with executive coaching were targeted for participation. A total of 110 participants completed the online survey.


Influence tactics including coalition, consultation, inspirational appeals, and rational persuasion were more frequently associated with client commitment. Consultation was more frequently utilized during initial influence attempts; pressure was more frequently utilized during follow‐up attempts. Coaches also reported using different tactics depending on the desired outcome of the influence attempt: coalition and pressure were utilized to change behavior, whereas coaches used consultation and rational persuasion to both change behavior and assign work.

Research limitations/implications

The results offer insights into executive coaching engagements, areas for potential training and development of practicing coaches, and techniques for creating more successful outcomes with coaching clients. The findings are limited by sample size, self‐report measures, and the lack of contextual or organizational information. Future research should expand these findings to provide additional information regarding the use of influence tactics in the executive coaching industry.


There is little empirical data regarding how executive coaches effectively influence behavioral change in their clients. The current study applies research on proactive influence tactics to the context of executive coaching, bridging these two previously disparate streams of research.



Lewis‐Duarte, M. and Bligh, M.C. (2012), "Agents of “influence”: exploring the usage, timing, and outcomes of executive coaching tactics", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 255-281.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles