What do women really get out of executive coaching? Beyond my own clients’ experiences, I’m always on the lookout for good research on the effectiveness of what I do. (“Does it really work?” “How?”) When PhD candidate Deborah Galuk conducted her dissertation research (“Executive Coaching: What is the experience like for executive women?,” University of Minnesota, 2009), she discovered a set of common themes. A coach, according to Galuk’s informants, is a trusted professional guide who expects action and guides strength-building. For executive women, the coaching process is about turning insight into action:
- Self-discovery and awareness. Self-awareness — reconnecting with one’s self, values, and behaviors — provides the foundation for all growth.
- Emotions. Coaching engages emotions in the process of learning and change, including occasional impatience, and growing pains.
- Commitment. Successful coaching clients are committed to the work.
- Challenge to thinking. Through the skillful use of questions, a coach helps clients dig deeper to recognize patterns and assumptions or to think through decisions. Challenges lead to breakthroughs.
- Tools guide actions. A coach provides her clients with tools for skill-building such as self-management, influence, and change leadership.
- Different actions. Coaching helps women gain new perspectives, which lead to fresh problem-solving, which leads to better results.
Next time: Galuk’s findings about coaching outcomes.