Coaching in style: A sequential analysis of interpersonal styles in coach-client interactions
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Purpose - Despite calls for studying interaction processes in coaching, little is known about the link between coach-client interactions and coaching success. In particular, interpersonal behavior in coaching remains unexplored, although it is considered highly relevant to social relationships and interaction outcomes. This study takes first steps to address this research gap.Design/methodology/approach - We examined the dynamics of coaches’ and clients' interpersonal behavior based on the two basic dimensions affiliation and dominance. Furthermore, we investigated the link between emergent interpersonal behavior patterns and coaching outcomes. To this end, we videotaped and analyzed a total of 11,095 behavioral acts nested in 30 coach-client dyads. Findings - Sequential analysis revealed reciprocity patterns between coaches and clients at the micro-level of coaching interaction processes, such as dominant-friendly interaction styles by coaches promoting dominant client behavior within the coaching process. Clients’ dominance was linked to their goal attainment at the end of the coaching process.Implications – Our results highlight the importance of interpersonal behavior for coaching success. Specifically, our findings suggest that dominance interaction patterns are context- and relation-specific, offering an explanation for contradicting empirical studies on interpersonal dominance. For coaches, our study implies that high awareness for interpersonal signals can help guide the process and activate clients’ dominance. Originality/value - This is one of the first empirical studies that uses behavior observation and interaction analysis to understand the interpersonal dynamics during coaching sessions. Our results increase our theoretical understanding of coaching effectiveness by shedding light on the micro-level behavioral dynamics that drive successful coaching processes.