Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How Executive Coaches' Meaning Making Informs Their Choices in Coaching Sessions

Amanda Buschi, School of Human and Organizational Development

Executive coaching as an industry has realized significant growth in the past 30 years (A. Grant, 2009). Increasingly, executives turn to coaches for support and consultation regarding a variety of issues. Although research has focused on several areas related to coaching, none has addressed how executive coaches’ meaning making informs their choices in coaching sessions. Coaches can, for example, choose to hold the space in silence for the client, ask a question, or reflect back what the client has said. The purpose of this study is to explore how executive coaches’ understanding and interpretation informs the choices they make as to the next step in coaching sessions. The theoretical foundation for this research was constructivism, social constructionism, and meaning making. The methodology employed was a qualitative research study using semi-structured telephone interviews with 12 experienced coaches; transcribed interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Meaning making informing coaches’ choices was found to be time driven--past, present, and future--and coach, client, and context driven. The model derived from these findings presents meaning making including past-oriented client-driven perspectives where the history of the coach/client relationship was informing coach choices, present-oriented coach-driven perspectives where coach self-reflection was informing coach choices, and future oriented client-driven perspectives where client goals were informing coach choices.

Key Words: coaching, executive coaching, meaning making, constructivism

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