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Curiouser Science Lessons, No. 6: Coaching and Appetite for Feedback

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Does coaching increase our appetite for feedback?

James Smither, a researcher at La Salle University, along with another university researcher and a few colleagues at a global organization, conducted a quasi-experimental study to learn more about how coached individuals receive feedback and how others perceived changes in their leadership. (A quasi-experimental study is as close as you can get to an experiment –the gold standard for research–in a non-lab setting).  


They studied 1,000 senior managers at a global company who all received multi-source feedback from their direct reports, supervisors, and peers. 30% of these senior managers went on to receive coaching, and one year later both groups (coached and not coached) received additional feedback from their colleagues.


Between these two rounds of feedback from their coworkers, the researchers found coached managers (compared to their non-coached counterparts) were significantly more likely to

drum roll please


Ask for ideas for improvement from their supervisors! Coached leaders are more likely to seek out more input and feedback on how they’re working and how they can improve. 


They were also more likely to receive better ratings from their direct reports and supervisors. Not only were they more receptive to improvement, but they also offered clearer direction to their direct reports. This in turn led to greater satisfaction from the people they manage.


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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