Despite its growing popularity in applied settings, executive coaching has to date received little attention in empirical research, especially in regard to the coaching process. This paper aims to investigate the effect of working alliance rating discrepancies on the development of coachees' self‐efficacy, a key outcome in leadership development.
The paper reports on a pre‐ post‐test study of a leadership development program taking place in a large North American manufacturing company. Data were collected from two samples: managers receiving coaching over an eight‐month period and internal certified coaches. In total, 30 coach‐coachee dyads were analyzed.
Results from an analysis of covariance did not support the authors' hypothesis, by indicating that coachees having worked with a coach who underestimated the working alliance, in relation to his or her coachee, experienced more growth in self‐efficacy than coachees who worked with a coach who either accurately estimated or overestimated the working alliance.
The results sugges that coaches should coach with an “ongoing and deliberately maintained doubt as their only certainty”. The importance for coaches to be sensitive to signs of what the coachee is experiencing, and to take the initiative to verify the coachee's comfort level with the way coaching is proceeding is addressed.
This study intended to delve deeper into the complexities of the coaching process by linking a key coaching process variable, the relationship, to coaching outcomes.
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