Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert L. Betz

Third Advisor

Dr. John Austin


The purpose of this study was to: (a) consolidate/critique the executive coaching practice literature and empirical research to determine what is known about executive coaching as an individual consultation intervention, and (b) provide additional knowledge about outcomes by testing whether executive coaching affects leadership as measured by the MLQ 5x (Short Form) (Bass & Avolio, 1995).

Twenty-seven coaches, 50 clients (pre/early- or post/later coaching), and 62 direct-report/peers participated. Coaches provided demographic information, invited client participation, and distributed surveys to clients. Clients provided demographic information, rated themselves on a leadership instrument, and invited direct-report/ peer participation. Direct-report/peers rated clients’ leadership using a different version of the same instrument.

In analyzing the results, the present sample of coaches were more often women and less likely to possess graduate degrees than coaches in previous research. Clients were also more likely women than clients in previous executive coaching research. Further, clients were different from leaders in previous MLQ research in that both pre/early- and post/later-coaching clients scored consistently higher on active leadership and lower on passive leadership. These results may reflect whom coaches identified to participate, i.e., clients who were already strong leaders. They may also reflect the leadership gains of pre/early-coaching clients in the 2 months of coaching that they received prior to this study. Finally, it is possible that only leaders who are “good enough” receive executive coaching. Therefore, coaching may be more about enhancing versus developing leadership.

Statistically significant and meaningful differences occurred between pre/early-coaching and post/later-coaching clients on passive leadership. Statistically significant differences also occurred for client perceptions of impacting followers. Finally, statistically significant and meaningful differences occurred when examined for clients in upper-management and CEO positions with post/later-coaching clients rating higher on charismatic behavior, ability to impact followers, and inspire followers. These differences were examined only through client ratings and may be less accurate measures of change.

These findings have implications for coaches, clients, and organizations because they suggest that executive coaching does impact leadership. Additional research needs to more clearly determine what the effects are, whom they occur for, and whether they imply leadership development or enhancement.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access