Home Research Literature Review Survey of Current Themes in Coaching Research with a Methological Critique

Survey of Current Themes in Coaching Research with a Methological Critique

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In the Harvard Business Review article, The Young and the Clueless, the authors cited many examples of up-and-coming organizational leaders who did not have the emotional skills to accompany their business acumen. They stated that peer coaching has helped rising executives see that their personal style can interfere with their subordinates’ growth and therefore the success of the company and their own career. The authors advocated “a peer group of up-and-coming mangers who meet monthly to share experiences and offer advice to one another.” [11] Another study showing the value of peer coaching in knowledge transfer (KT) and knowledge management (KM) was produced by authors Lahti and Beyerlein in 2000. Their qualitative study of management consultants in the KT and KM fields showed that peer coaching was one of the key strategies to enhance long term productivity and provide a competitive advantage. [12] Peer coaching was also advocated by authors Cloke and Goldsmith who advised that peer coaching “dramatically increases communication skills and understanding regarding organizational conflicts. [Peer coaching also] help[s] employees own the resolution process.” [13]

Diversity in Coaching

One emergent theme that was topical and deserves more interest was diversity. In a study by O’Neil and Lamm of a two-year team coaching program involving 250 participants and 4 coaches, conducted by one of the nation’s largest gas and electric companies, it was found that diversity in both the teams and the coaches contributed positively. In the team setting, diversity of age, gender, and experience provided a range of perspectives. Diversity in terms of learning styles and personality types presented the biggest challenges, at times creating interpersonal issues. For example, someone with an “activist” learning style might have less patience for debriefings, while a “pragmatist” might focus on nailing down the details.

Similarly, within the Myers-Briggs personality type, friction occurred mostly between “judging” coaches, who seek closure, and “perceiving” coaches, who prefer to keep options open as long as possible. Judging coaches who normally like to work in a planned, settled situation, sought stability in their interactions with the other coaches to balance the ambiguity found in their team settings. In contrast, the perceiving coaches, who preferred to leave things open and fluid when coaching their teams, were content to allow the teams to work in this manner. The program manager-learning coach acted as a facilitator to resolve issues resulting from these differences. If not addressed, issues of diversity could create conflicts in team dynamics which would jeopardize the learning outcomes. [14]

In analyzing the coaching of individuals, the Boston study of 75 executives and 15 coaches showed little indication that gender made a big difference in coaching relationships, with the exception that when combined with age or position, some women coaches reported that coaching an older, high-level male executive felt like a more difficult assignment, especially with regard to giving negative feedback. The study produced less information on race issues. The U.S. sample consisted of predominately white men and women with the exception of four Hispanic men. The international interviews included six executives (three Asian men and three Asian women) and three Asian internal coaches.

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