Margaret K. Marshall, Ph.D. is a 2006 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Al Guskin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Dianne Stober, Ph.D., External Reader


Coaching, Coaches, Outcomes, Models, Critical Incident, Effectiveness

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The purpose of this study was to identify the critical aspects in coaching outcomes as perceived by experienced coaches in the United States in both business and life coaching settings. Nineteen coaches provided a total of 109 critical incidents that led the client to the coaching process. Six dimensions of coaching emerged from the coding process; personal philosophies of coaching, coach functions, the coaching process, breakdown and success factors, precipitating factors and outcomes of coaching. A model was constructed to depict the relationship of the dimensions to one another. The personal philosophy of the coach influenced every other dimension. The coach functions were separated from the coaching process as they were interwoven throughout the coaching process and influenced the coaching process along with personal philosophies. The coaching process influenced factors of breakdown and success as did personal philosophies and coach functions. Factors that led to unsuccessful outcomes or breakdowns in coaching were therapeutic issues, coach/client mismatch, a lack of a willingness or ability to take action and make commitments, unrealistic expectations, lack of depth and flow in the coaching process, and negative mindsets that could not be shifted. Conversely, factors that led to successful coaching outcomes were the client connection, unconditional positive regard, the coach selection process, establishing a strong connection between coach and client, client accountability, openness and motivation. The tacit knowledge of the coach became an integral component of the study as coaches related the incidents of success and lack of success as coaches engaged in a coaching process that reflected their personal theories and perspectives. These theories could often be related back to foundational theories of coaching such as client-centered therapy, transformational learning, systems theory, and adult development theories and had become a source of tacit knowledge for study participants. The unplanned or unexpected outcomes revealed the impact of coaching on the whole person or system. Coaches reported that as clients gained successes in one area of their lives, improvement in other areas was also experienced. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLINK ETD Center,