How does executive coaching work? An investigation between the coach-coachee dyad

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This study investigates the coach-coachee dyad via accounts of how executive coaching works. Despite the increase of executive coaching research evidence, the voice of coachees is rarely heard. To develop a more holistic picture of an effective coaching engagement, semi-structured interviews based on the critical incident technique (CIT) were conducted with nine coach-coachee pairs recalling their recent coaching experiences. This study indicates the professional coaching relationship as essential in facilitating sustainable change and coaching outcomes. Four main themes are derived from the data – a supportive working relationship; exploratory processes; coach’s initiations to create a joint effort process – and the coaches as a positive social influence, these essential factors promote an effective professional relationship within the coaching dyad. This research extends contemporary coaching literature from a positivistic view to exploring critical aspects through the coach-coachee pair. Research results can offer guidance to coaching practitioners seeking to enhance the effectiveness of the coaching process and outcomes. Moreover, key factors that emerge from this study offer sponsoring organisations an insight of how executives experience change and development through coaching.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Coaching Psychology Review
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 7 Jun 2023


  • executive coaching
  • coaching relationship
  • coaching dyad
  • critical analysis
  • evidence-based coaching

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