New findings on the effectiveness of the coaching relationship: time to think differently about active ingredients?

Erik de Haan, J. Molyn, V.O. Nilsson

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This article critically reviews two recent, large-scale, randomized controlled trials in executive coaching, to drive further exploration into the topic of the coaching relationship as a predictor of coaching outcome. One of the trials was designed at senior levels in an industrial setting and the other was an experiment with coaching in a business-school context. Each trial demonstrated considerable and significant coaching effectiveness with the coaching relationship ("working alliance") as an important ingredient of effectiveness. The more recent randomized-controlled-trial sample, which was longitudinal, seems to show that we may have to radically change our understanding of the impact of the coaching relationship on coaching effectiveness. Contrary to previous consensus, it seems the working alliance between client and coach is not strongly related to coaching effectiveness. The strength of the working alliance only correlates with a higher effectiveness score from the beginning of the coaching relationship, but it does not significantly correlate with increasing outcomes through further coaching conversations. Some possible explanations for this unexpected and seemingly contradictory finding in the area of "working alliance" are put forward and critically reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155–167
Number of pages12
JournalConsulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research
Volume72
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

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