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While executive coaching has been gaining in use steadily as individuals and organizations experience first-hand the positive results, the number of treatment-control research studies on the impact of executive coaching is still small.
A 2023 study by Brooks et al. offers a straightforward experiment with promising results.1
After 10 weeks of working with an executive coach, leaders experienced a reduction in three dimensions of burnout and an increase in one dimension of engagement. The control group maintained their levels of burnout and engagement.
More specifically, the coached group had decreases in their emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and personal inefficacy, while their vigor increased.
Burnout and engagement are regarded to be opposites on the spectrum. Each is comprised of multiple dimensions.
The study looks at coaching’s effect on three dimensions each for burnout and engagement.
3 dimensions of burnout:
3 dimensions of engagement:
100 leaders in Spain were recruited to participate, with 92 ultimately completing the duration of the study. They were randomized to receive an hour of coaching each week for 10 weeks or were told they were on a waitlist for the coaching (the waitlist people got coaching after the experiment was over)2. The researchers controlled for age, gender, and education in the analysis.
All leaders completed pre- and post-surveys that assessed various aspects of burnout and engagement.
Here are some example statements that the participants rated in each survey.
Coaches might be interested in knowing that the framework for the 10-week coaching engagement is based on the GROW model (a 4-stage model based on behaviorism).
The paper includes information on what topic/technique was used in each of the 10 sessions. It’s ungated so you can give it a read for yourself if you like.
1Research Citation: Brooks, P.J., P. Ripoll, C. Sánchez, and M. Torres. (2023) Coaching leaders toward favorable trajectories of burnout and engagement. Frontiers of Psychology. 14:1259672. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1259672.
2It would have been an even better paper if the researchers could have continued the study for 10 more weeks – both to see whether the effects of the coached group persisted and whether the control group saw similar benefits from a coaching treatment.
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