Commissioning executive coaching for directors and senior managers
Executive coaches are a relatively new and high profile addition to the supplier ranks offering development services for directors and senior managers in the UK. There is a paucity of theory about executive coaching, despite its widespread purchase and use in practice. The research and thesis examines current practice from two different perspectives - suppliers and commissioners - in order to advance understanding of the issues that affect the commissioning of executive coaching for directors and senior managers. Being one of the first in an area has a number of implications for the research design. The research environment is the real world of commissioners from a number of organisations who are members of the IES Research Club (and its successor body an IES Research Network) and the real world of executive coaches themselves. The chosen iterative research approach of action research and co-operative inquiry involved collaborating with three different sets of practitioner co-researchers in shaping the nature of the research and reflecting upon what was being learned. A particular contribution to the knowledge about the subject is made in categorising, for the first time, what organisations hope to gain by commissioning executive coaching on behalf of their most senior employees. The thesis also explores the 'how' of the work of executive coaches through situated research in one organisational context where 17 directors were coached by three executive coaches, including the researcher. A model of the executive coaching process, from the coach's perspective, has been developed and is presented and described here. The model is a significant contribution to theory in the field.