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The Nature of the Learning Experiences of Leadership Coaches that Lead to Coaching Competencies: A Phenomenological Study Open Access

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Abstract of the DissertationThe Nature of the Learning Experiences of Leadership CoachesThat Lead to Coaching Competencies:A Phenomenological StudyThis qualitative, phenomenological study addressed the research question: What is the nature of the learning experiences of leadership coaches that lead to coaching competency? With the increasing recognition of leadership coaching as a meaningful leadership development experience (Allen & Hartman, 2008; Maltbia, Marsick, & Ghosh, 2014; Yukl, 2013), there is a growing need for professional coaches to have the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required of an effective coach. Research suggests that a focus on competency development may be critical to long-term viability and career success (Van Der Heijde & Van Der Heijden, 2006). Additionally, recent research indicates that coaches can learn behaviors and skills related to the 11 International Coach Federation competencies from their coaching experiences (De Haan, 2008; Goldman, Wesner, & Karnhanomai, 2013; Passmore & Fillery-Travis, 2011).Six themes emerged from the data collection: (1) The coach’s learning was triggered by memorable, episodic events that occurred either during or after the coaching process; (2) a coach’s awareness of personal readiness for, and openness to, the coaching process contributed to the coach’s learning; (3) the use of a variety of coaching approaches and methodologies helped set the conditions for the coach’s learning; (4) a coach’s ongoing assessment of the dynamic interaction between coach and client during or after the coaching process contributed to the coach’s learning; (5) formal and informal experiences with other coaches and/or with coach trainees also contributed to the coach’s learning; and (6) the experiences that led to the coach’s learning were highly emotional for the coach. The study concluded that the nature of the learning experiences that lead to coaching competencies can be described by six characteristics. Further, coaches use familiar tools and techniques to construct meaning from coaching experiences to learn coaching competencies, and process-oriented coaching competencies are more frequently learned while coaching than are structurally oriented coaching competencies. The study suggested a model of how coaches learn coaching competencies through the coach’s own readiness, ongoing assessment during the coaching engagement, use of reflection, and awareness of personal and client emotions. Recommendations were offered for theory, practice, and future research.

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