The (Mis)perception of coaching (Part 4 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 a common understanding amongst participants about what are the most important elements or behaviours that are deployed in a “successful” coaching intervention?

The Coaching session can be broken down into two elements:

  • the theory, model or tool (or combination of) in use during the session
  • the skills, behaviours or personal qualities of the coach.

John Whitmore’s G.R.O.W. model is the most established and is a widely recognised coaching model, but there are number of other a-theoretical models which have emerged in recent years.

There also number of theoretical models used within the coaching relationship in including:  REBT (Rational-emotive behavioural therapy) coaching, psychodynamic coaching, Solution focused coaching and CBT coaching to name a few.

In 2008, the members of the Special Group of Coaching Psychology, a sub-division of the British Psychological Society reported that they use 28 different approaches, the majority adapted from the field of therapy.

Coaching has been described as “drawing its influences from and stands on the shoulders of a wide range of disciplines, including counselling, management consultancy, personal development and psychology”.

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.   Hall describe the helpful, and less helpful behaviours within a coaching relationship: 

From executives From coaches
Honest, realistic, challenging feedbackGood listeningGood action points ideas

Clear 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 listeningReflecting



Checking back

Commitment to coachee success

Demonstrating integrity

Openness & honesty

Knowing the ‘unwritten rules’.

Pushing the coachee where necessary

In addition to the above, other academics have found the following qualities are also important in a coaching session: empathy, perspective, clear focus, intuition, objectivity and strength to challenge the coachee.

In the survey, the participants were provided with a list of 8 elements that can be found within a coaching session, and were asked to rank each one in order of importance for a  coaching intervention to be successful.

The results showed a rich diversity of responses.   There was no commonality across the participants in the elements found in a coaching session.    Again, this brings into focus the vast diversity that is the nature of coaching.  Equally, this also infers that individuals have different priorities and requirements from a coaching session.



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