What is evidence-based coaching?

Evidence-based coaching is coaching delivery and coaching practice which is guided and informed by scientific research. This involves understanding what the latest coaching research literature is saying and knowing how to apply this in a practical way to improve your own coaching practice.

Why is this important for your work as a coach?

If you want to deliver coaching that is genuinely effective for your clients, then being up to date with the coaching research literature is essential. This means avoiding fads, questioning assumptions and engaging in constructive, informed self-reflection as a coach.

A framework for evaluating evidence-based research

A simple two by two framework for evaluating the usefulness of research for coaching effectiveness measures the relevance of evidence(coaching specific) vs strength of evidence (weak vs strong).

Strong evidence for coaching

High coaching-relevant

Strong evidence for coaching

Rigorous coaching-specific

Weak evidence for coaching

Less coaching-relevant

Weak evidence for coaching

Less coaching-specific

(Anthony Grant, Sean O’Connor, Coaching Psychologist, 2019)

What the evidence suggests

Below is a bullet point summary of the key factors related to evidence-based coaching

  • Coach-coachee matching is unrelated to coaching outcomes
  • Coaching effectiveness is linked more strongly to goal setting than building empathy
  • Trust in the coaching relationship is critical
  • A focus on goals and outcomes will strengthen client commitment
  • Who sets the goal is less relevant
  • A clear rationale for the goal is important
  • Agreement by the coachee to a set goal is important
  • Self-reflection is important for self-insight
  • Role of the coach is to steer the coachee towards productive self-insight
  • Coach can help the coachee avoid over self-reflection, or introspection

Article written by: Dr Jodi O’Dell

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