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

Building successful leadership coaching relationships: Examining impact of matching criteria in a leadership coaching program

Lisa A. Boyce (US Air Force, USAF Academy, Colorado, USA)
R. Jeffrey Jackson (US Air Force, USAF Academy, Colorado, USA)
Laura J. Neal (US Air Force, USAF Academy, Colorado, USA)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 26 October 2010




This paper aims to employ a conceptual model to examine the relationship processes and mediating role of client‐coach relationship between client‐coach match criteria and coaching outcomes to advance the understanding of client‐coach relationship's impact on leadership coaching.


Data collected from 74 client‐coach pairs participating in a voluntary leadership coaching program at a military service academy during pre‐partnering and post‐transition phases were analyzed to examine the impact of match criteria and client‐coach relationship processes on coaching outcomes.


Consistent with the conceptual framework, relationship processes of rapport, trust, and commitment positively predicted coaching program outcomes, including client and coach reactions, behavioral change, and coaching program results. The client‐coach relationship fully mediated two match criteria (compatibility and credibility) with coaching outcomes, suggesting that complementary managerial and learning styles and relevant job‐related credibility support the development of client‐coach relationships and therefore positively impact leadership coaching programs.

Research limitations/implications

The generalizability of findings may be limited due to the population studied. Future research needs to examine relationship processes in the larger context of the coaching practice as well as formative and results‐level outcomes.

Practical implications

The research findings provide support and understanding of the impact of the client‐coach relationship on coaching and the understanding of factors influencing the relationship, which allows the development of selection tools to better match clients with coaches, increasing the quality of the relationship and ultimately the coaching outcomes.


The study represents one of the first attempts to symmetrically examine client‐coach relationships and highlights the value of the conceptual framework for conducting client‐coach relationship research.



Boyce, L.A., Jeffrey Jackson, R. and Neal, L.J. (2010), "Building successful leadership coaching relationships: Examining impact of matching criteria in a leadership coaching program", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 29 No. 10, pp. 914-931.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles