How Important is Chemistry When Choosing an Executive Coach?

It’s probably no surprise to anyone reading this post that the coach-client relationship plays a key role in the outcome of any executive coaching engagement. After all, the best definition of executive coaching I’ve come across – from Jonathan Passmore and Annette Fillery-Travis — defines coaching as “a Socratic based dialogue between a facilitator (coach) and a participant (client) where the majority of interventions used by the facilitator are open questions which are aimed at stimulating the self-awareness and personal responsibility of the participant.”

For such a dialog to be effective, there must be good chemistry between coach and client.

Executive Coaching Chemistry Graphic

And while that may seem obvious, we have several research studies that highlight the important role chemistry plays in the outcome of any coaching engagement. For example, in “A Critical Review of Executive Coaching Research: A Decade of Progress and What’s to Come,” Passmore and Fillery-Travis conclude:

  • “It is now recognized that the most consistently identified factor seen as contributing to the success of a coaching engagement is the quality of the relationship between the coach and client.”

Citing another study by Louis Baron and Lucie Morin, The Coach-Coachee Relationship in Executive Coaching: A Field Study, Passmore and Fillery point out:

  • “Results indicate that the coach‐coachee relationship plays a mediating role between the coaching received and development of the coachees’ self‐efficacy.”

Finally in another study, “A large-scale study of executive and workplace coaching: The relative contributions of relationship, personality match, and self-efficacy,” Erik de Haan, et al. conclude:

  • “The coachee–coach working alliance mediated the impact of self-efficacy on coaching effectiveness, suggesting that the strength of this working alliance — particularly as seen through the eyes of the coachee — is a key ingredient in coaching effectiveness.”

Of course, good chemistry is not enough. A coach also must help a client identify his or her Continue reading…