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The Mystery of Coaching Mastery

Stephen Burt, Gibsonstarr Ltd

This article draws on primary research with expert coaches, established research on skill acquisition and ‘parallel worlds’ of practice to offer a new model of coaching mastery. Coaches know that there is more to top-quality work than technique. But what is that extra ingredient? And what is the contribution of technique? Research on skill acquisition offers some insights and we can learn from the general progression from novice to master identified in the literature. But we should not adopt established models wholesale; coaching is different in significant ways. So we can build on the research but new insights are needed if we are to account for coaching mastery. I argue that music, sport and art provide those insights. These multiple sources suggest that, alongside technique, master coaches have two further qualities and abilities: excellent self-management, borne of deep self-awareness, and powerful self-expression. Together they give the coach their signature presence; and the interaction between them points to how the master coach holds their expertise.

Drawing on other worlds of practice and performance broadens the language available to coaches to describe their expertise and opens up new sources of insight into mastery. The model of mastery that I propose has profound implications for coach development. It suggests that coaching mastery requires learning along three inter-woven paths. It requires mastery of three domains – technique, self-management and self-expression – and, by implication, of the tensions between them. It is not enough to be technically good; we also need to know ourselves deeply and show ourselves in the service of the client.

Volume X, Article 4, September 2018

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Professional Section

This article draws on primary research with expert coaches, established research on skill acquisition and “parallel worlds” of practice to offer a new model of coaching mastery. Coaches know that there is more to top-quality work than technique. But what is that extra ingredient? And what is the contribution of technique? Research on skill acquisition offers some insights and we can learn from the general progression from novice to master identified in the literature. But we should not adopt established models wholesale; coaching is different in significant ways. So we can build on the research but new insights are needed if we are to account for coaching mastery. I argue that music, sport and art provide those insights. These multiple sources suggest that, alongside technique, master coaches have two further qualities and abilities: excellent self-management, borne of deep self-awareness, and powerful self-expression. Together they give the coach their signature presence; and the interaction between them points to how the master coach holds their expertise.

Mastery, development, technique, self-mastery, self-expression

Volume X, Article 3, July 2018

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Professional Section

This study on mentoring is an explorative inquiry into the role of conversations as a vehicle for learning for mentees. An analysis of mentoring conversations aimed for learning uses a framework to detect patterns in interaction as a means to promote learning in order to explore how a ‘good’ i.e., interactive mentor, may enhance the professional potential of mentoring conversations. Investigating dyads of 16 mentoring conversations revealed, however, that reflective patterns dominated the conversation while more learning oriented patterns were less often found. This highlights that a mentoring conversation does not primarily aim for learning but serves manifold purposes at a time. Acknowledging this might help in (re) directing a conversation.

Mentoring for learning; interaction patterns; learning conversations, reflection.

Volume X, Article 2, February 2018

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Professional Section

In this research the mentors are adults who work in schools and colleges to support young people with pastoral issues and offer any advice and guidance required. The mentors in my study have some form of specialised or skilled mentoring background or counselling equivalent. Shea (1997) describes mentors as ‘people who invest time, energy and personal know-how in assisting the growth and ability of another person’ and this research will focus on how mentors support the transition of young people from further education to higher education and employment. During this process of support the perceptions and identities of the young people will also be examined.

Volume X, Article 1, February 2018

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Professional Section

The purpose of this study was to assess the roles and responsibilities of mentors in guiding and supporting novice teachers in primary schools. In doing so, an attempt was made to answer the basic questions; Do mentors guide and support novice teachers effectively? What are the conditions that affect the mentoring relationship between mentors and novice teachers? Is there a healthy relationship between mentors and novice teachers? And what are the major problems facing to novice teachers? The method used to conduct this study was descriptive survey. 14 primary school in Dangila district were selected using simple random technique.

Mentoring, Mentors, Novice teacher, Guiding and Supporting, and Elementary school

25th Anniversary Edition

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Professional Section

As part of EMCCs 25th anniversary celebrations in 2017 this journal contains a review and update of a number of articles written in the 2012 for EMCCS 20th anniversary year.

Volume IX Article 3, September 2016

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This piece reflects a conversation between two supervisors who discovered the scope of supervision support they offer clients was remarkably similar, despite quite different backgrounds. Of particular interest to them was how they managed the support connected to the more commercial issues that supervisees brought. In this article they articulate how they include this element within their supervision work. They consider the appropriateness of this and the ethical issues that it may raise. They ask whether this activity fits within the accepted “functions” of supervision as documented in the literature (for example: formative, normative, restorative – by Proctor 1988)? Or does it point to a fourth “function” of supervision in the world of independent coaches – and if it
does, what would it be called?

Coaching supervision, business development, function

Volume IX Article 2, June 2016

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Professional Section

This case study aimed to assess the effectiveness of a coaching and leadership development program conducted in an international organisation based in Eastern
Europe. Eighteen senior managers participated in the Dynamic Integrated Coaching for Executives (DICE) program. DICE is designed to accelerate leadership development and sharpen systemic awareness of each leaders’ place within an organisation. After the coaching program, individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with the managers to determine their perception of the effectiveness of the coaching program. A percentage Return on Investment (ROI) figure for the coaching program was also calculated using the salary of participants and performance metrics at the time of the coaching programs and 6 months post program. An ROI of 290 percent was determined, as well as significant increases in operational results and positive changes in proximal and distal outcomes, according to the participants. The findings of this study demonstrate the usefulness of objective and subjective measures, multisource data and a stakeholder participatory approach to coaching evaluation

Coaching effectiveness, return on investment, evaluation

Volume IX Article 1, May 2016

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Reviewed Section

There is a continuous need for empirical evidence regarding the impact and experience The demand on techniques, approaches and processes that increase quality of life and well-being is very high in general population. Enhancement of the quality of life, wellbeing, life experiences, and personal growth are inherent to life coaching, which explains rapid growth of the profession since it fully emerged in the 1990s. The evidence that life coaching can positively impact quality of life and well-being is continuously growing, although still limited. This integrative literature review synthesizes findings of previous studies and articles about the impact of life coaching on quality of life and well-being.

Happiness, Life Coaching, Life Satisfaction, Quality of Life, Well-Being

Volume XIII Article 4, October 2015

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Reviewed Section

We employed a longitudinal, experimental approach to examine the effects of allowing protégés to choose their own mentor on the effectiveness of an online peer mentoring program at a four-year university in the United States. First-year students were randomly assigned to either select a mentor from a pool of volunteers or to be paired with a mentor by a program administrator. There were 65 dyads who met online for four chat sessions, and transcripts of their interactions were saved for analysis by independent coders. Protégés in the choice group reported greater feelings of similarity to their mentors than protégés who were assigned a mentor. Ordinary least-squares regression analysis showed that protégés who selected their mentors received greater mentor support. This effect was mediated by the extent to which protégés displayed proactive behaviors during the sessions. These findings suggest implications for
designing and managing mentoring programs.

Formal mentoring, input to match, e-mentoring, undergraduate peer mentoring

Volume XIII Article 3, September 2015

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Reviewed Section

There is a continuous need for empirical evidence regarding the impact and experience of coaching leadership. The purpose of this study was to describe the effects from a coaching leadership program. The results indicated that the majority of the participants in the program used the skills acquired during the program (e.g., communication skills, feedback giving/receiving) as part of their managerial practices. Female managers and managers with less leadership experience reported a major improvement in communication skills compared to males and more experienced managers, respectively. The study contributes to the empirical examination of coaching practices in a Swedish Telecom Industry operating globally. Future research may need to explore further how to design programs that engage diverse groups of managers in multicultural settings.

Coaching leadership, Coaching culture, Feedback, Active Listening, SBR-model, GROW-model

Volume XIII Article 2, March 2015

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Reviewed Section

This evaluation survey was conducted following a leadership coaching program in which 37 senior leaders and managers participated. The survey aimed to examine the impact of the leadership coaching program in terms of both formative evaluation or how the program was delivered and summative evaluation or the broader impact of the program. A total of 105/250 individuals responded to the survey giving a response rate of 42%. Quantitative analysis showed that respondents were extremely positive about the relevance of the program to developing leaders at their organisation and the level of the intervention. In terms of effective elements of the program, the coaching relationship received the highest scoring responses. Respondents reported perceiving significant positive change at the individual, team and organisational level and these changes were attributed to the coaching program. For changes at the individual and team level, there was a significant trend for participants and raters to perceive greater changes than other employees. This trend was also apparent when the results were analysed by level with those higher in the organisation perceiving the greatest change. A conservative calculation on the return on the investment (ROI) gave a figure of 856%. Specific recommendations from the program in relation to how the program could be run more effectively and how the leadership coaching could be more effectively integrated into the organisation are discussed.

Strength-based leadership coaching, Formative evaluation, Summative Evaluation, Return on Investment

Volume XIII Article 1, March 2015

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Reviewed Section

Cross-cultural mentoring (CCM) has emerged to meet the needs of today’s complex, fast changing, global environment. This article examines existing descriptions of common cross-cultural mentoring relationships across 123 sources and addresses the need for construct clarification. Two over-arching domains from which four types of cross-cultural mentoring research are demarcated in an effort to support a formation of consistent terminology, categorization, and reporting as it pertains to identifying the increasing complex origin of mentorship participants in cross-cultural mentoring relationships. A synthesis of emerging research regarding cross-cultural mentoring is presented, and a critique of the state of cross-cultural mentoring literature is provided to identify
variables and to discern the most pressing gaps.

integrative literature review, cross-cultural mentoring, intercultural mentoring, formation of consistent terminology

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