The Executive Coach's Experience: A Qualitative Phenomenological Exploration
Organizational leadership is facing unparalleled challenges due to the intensifying complexity and escalating pace of business in the postmodern world. Executive leadership development, especially in the area of change management, has become an increasingly important segment of training. An intervention is needed that helps executives to help themselves as the leadership landscape changes. Executive coaching, unlike business coaching or lower-level leadership coaching, addresses the development needs of those at the top of the organizational ladder. The executive coach has entered the leadership development field with amazing force; especially considering that the coaching profession currently requires no license, no accreditation, and no training. This research explores the experience of the executive coach using qualitative phenomenological methodology. Data collection by means of interviews produced thick, rich descriptions of coaching. The data revealed seven universal constituents of the experience: authentic hope and understanding, the big exploration, intense client focus, a valuable affinity, coaching as art, candid assessment, and parting with a growing friend. The research examined the experiential elements of each constituent, including exploring the 30 themes that comprise the larger universal constituents. Finally, the research contains recommendations for current coaches, potential future coaches, and key coaching constituencies (including executives, human resources professionals, consultants, therapists, etc.). The study concludes with suggestions for future research in the new and growing field of executive coaching.
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