How Leaders and their Coaches Describe Outcomes of Coaching for Intentional Change
Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research
Executive coaching has been touted as an effective intervention for fostering positive change in individuals and organizations. Yet coaching practice in organizations is often decoupled from a scholarly theory of change that can provide insight into how positive outcomes are achieved. In this study, we draw on Intentional Change Theory to structure a coaching intervention and examine how leaders and their coaches described important outcomes of the coaching process, as well as how those descriptions shifted over time. Ten outcomes were identified with the three most salient being increasing self-awareness, enacting change, and internalizing a personal vision. The latter was most salient among leaders immediately after coaching ended, and this tended to dissipate over time. Yet it is still striking that the leaders being coached describe vision as a valuable and tangible outcome of the coaching process. The salience of vision immediately after coaching gave way to the salience of enacting change when measured one year later, thereby providing support for the proposition that discovery of one’s ideal self, operationalized as vision, stimulates sustained change. Overall, the leaders and coaches were relatively similar in their descriptions of outcomes with the exception that coaches reported leaders were enacting change months before the leader saw it in themselves. These and other observations from the data are discussed vis-à-vis the theoretical underpinning of Intentional Change Theory.