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Curiouser Science Lessons, No. 5: Behavior Change from Coaching

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How will coaching change you? And will those changes stick?


The research is pretty clear–coaching is a powerful tool for both personal and interpersonal change. Among the myriad outcomes that can change from coaching, you may wonder–what are the most important and salient changes I can expect from coaching, or expect to see in those who are coached? And how do these translate into behavior change?


Researcher Angela Passarelli at the College of Charleston, along with two other colleagues, sought out answers to those questions, conducting interviews of 88 leaders across 5 organizations. In this study, she asked open-ended questions to uncover areas of change (in lieu of spoon feeding leaders the traditional outcomes of coaching). 


Right after coaching, leaders reported changing in the following three ways:

→ increasing in self-awareness (36%)

→ internalizing a personal vision and moving towards an “ideal self” (30%)

→ creating an action plan with next steps to pursue future change (27%)


These three changes lay the groundwork for behavior change down the road. When leaders were asked the same set of questions a second time, one year after coaching, 36% reported behavioral change in the top three areas of change. They shared that they were becoming more strategic in their thinking and more effective in the actions they took. 


It’s clear that learning more about oneself, creating a vision of an ideal self, and creating an action plan to move towards that are key ingredients to bringing behavior change into fruition.

This article was featured in Torch’s newsletter, Curiouser. Each month, we deliver the latest research, stories, questions, and insights about the art and science of coaching to your inbox. Sign-up and join a community of people who are passionate about growth, learning, and leadership.

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