The (Mis)Perception of Coaching (Part 3 of 5)

Part 1 on the (mis)perception of coaching outlined the nature of the survey and the demographics of the participants.  This post seeks to answer one of the questions explored in the survey.

Is there any synergy between participants in their understanding of which behaviours are important for a coach to display?

Whilst the model or theory deployed by the coach is important within a coaching session, the behaviours demonstrated are also a key element.    “Helpful behaviours” orPersonal Qualities” or “skills” are frequently discussed within academic literature.

 What works best in coaching?*

From executives From coaches
Honest, realistic, challenging feedbackGood listeningGood action points ideasClear objectives

No personal agenda

Accessibility , availability

Straight feedback

Competence, sophistication

Seeing a good model of effectiveness

Coach has seen other career paths

Connecting personally, recognising where the coachee isGood listeningReflectingCaring


Checking back

Commitment to coachee success

Demonstrating integrity

Openness & honesty

Knowing the ‘unwritten rules’.

Pushing the coachee where necessary

In addition to the above, academic literature also highlights the following qualities: “empathy, perspective, clear focus, intuition, objectivity and strength to challenge the coachee.   The Co-active Coaching Model also tries to integrate these elements and are defined as:  listening, curiosity, self-management, forward / deepen, intuition.

The only model that I came across in my research that consciously details the personal qualities was Passmore’s “Integrative Coaching Model”* which combines the personal qualities, use of psychological theory and self-awareness.

The personal qualities required by a coach is discussed at length in coaching literature, often based on research undertaken with groups of coaches and coaches.  This previous research has highlighted a vast array of different personal qualities that one single coach could not possibly possess.

In the survey, self-declared “coach – participants” were not asked about which coaching models or theories they used within a coaching session, they were asked to indicate whether a list of personal qualities were important in a coaching environment.   The participants were provided with a list of 16 behaviours and asked to rate them.

The results highlight that there were 25 strong positive correlations between pairing of behaviours.  Two behaviours (commitment and sense of perspective) had the largest number of strong positive correlations.

There was a strong correlation between commitment and the following:

  • pushing the coachees where necessary
  • maturity
  • organisational savvy
  • seeking clarity
  • personal connection
  • openness

With regards to sense of perspective, the correlations were as follows:

  • objectivity
  • listening
  • openness
  • seeking clarification
  • personal connection

This research suggests that whilst it is accepted from previous research a coach needs a range of personal qualities that underpin excellent communication skills, there are two core personal qualities that are considered more important than others.

*Table taken from Passmore, J., (November 2007) “Addressing deficit performance through coaching – using motivational interviewing for performance improvement at work” International Coaching Psychology Review, Vol. 2 No. 3

You can read about Passmore’s Integrative Model in Excellence in Coaching, Association for Coaching, Ed.  Passmore, J.  Kogan Page 2 edition (2010)


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