Coaching Outcomes Research

At Ashridge, we are interested in what factors determine the overall outcome or effectiveness of a coaching contract, and have conducted a series of research programmes over the years, investigation the helpfulness of executive coaching conversations. 

The study involved a web-based questionnaire (163 closed and 3 open questions) completed by 71 executive coaching clients shortly after the beginning of their coaching contract, and by 31 of those again approximately six months later. The results found that clients' appreciation of coaching was high.

These findings support the idea that common factors are at work in executive coaching and that general helpfulness is much less predicted by technique or approach, than by factors common to all coaching, such as the relationship, empathic understanding, positive expectations etc.

This research confirms earlier findings of Erik de Haan and Isabelle de Ridder, who undertook a similar quantitative outcome research project with 126 clients of action-learning groups.

  • To explore the importance of common factors in more depth, a further study into 156 client-coach pairs examined the specific impact of personality, matching and client-coach relationship processes on coaching outcomes. Strong indications were found for the prediction of coaching outcome by 1) the working alliance as experienced by the client; 2) the self-efficacy of the client; and 3) generalised technique as experienced by the client. Results show that personality or personality matching did not correlate with coaching outcomes. 

The largest ever coaching outcome research 

Following these studies, Ashridge initiated and led the largest scale study to date of executive-coaching outcomes in real coaching practice.  Data was gathered from 1895 client-coach pairs (366 different coaches) from 34 countries and 92 sponros.

Results show that client perceptions of coaching outcomes were significantly related to coach- and client-rated strength of the relationship and to client self-efficacy, but unrelased to client or coach personality, or to personality matching. The client-coach relationship mediated the impact of self-efficacy on coaching outcomes, suggesting that the strength of this relationship - particularly as seen through the eyes of the clients - is the key ingredient in coaching outcomes. 

See our publications database for the full range of Ashridge authored publications.

Find out more about the Ashridge Centre for Coaching and our ongoing Executive Coaching Research