Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Daniels College of Business

First Advisor

Melissa Akaka

Second Advisor

Sung Soo Kim

Third Advisor

Aaron Duncan


Executive coaching, Executive coaching process, Executive coaching styles


Executive coaching is a field in search of a conceptual model to tie together disparate studies and theories. While several decades of research validate ‘that’ coaching works (Athanasopoulou & Dopson, 2018), it’s been unclear is to ‘how’ coaching works. For over two decades, the field has been calling out for a conceptual model (Kilburg, 1996; Athanasopoulou & Dopson, 2018) and hasn’t known where to turn. While several attempts have been made, each of them suffered from conflation and lack of specificity, perhaps due to the lack of theoretical grounding amidst coaching’s nascence as a field. Answering this call is important to scholars and practitioners alike, since knowing how coaching works can lead to better scholarship as well as better coaching effectiveness.

Building from extant literature, in manuscript 1, I map out a conceptual model within executive coaching based on the major constructs of coach attributes, coachee attributes, the coaching process, and the coach-coachee relationship, and outcomes. However, in so doing, an obvious gap becomes clear – there is a lack of clarity regarding the process of how coaching occurs. To solve this problem, I turn to the related field of leadership which faced a similar challenge many decades ago. Its conceptual models are well-established, and parallels between coaching and leadership are evident and informative. One construct in particular, leadership styles, has been the source of decades of research, yet is missing from executive coaching literature. I propose that understanding executive coaching styles is a necessary element that the field has been searching for. In manuscript 2, I take a qualitative grounded theory approach using the Gioia method of theory-building based on semi-structured interviews and non-participant netnographic data of 15 US-based executive coaches. In the data, I find seven distinct executive coaching styles which play a key role in how coaching works. These styles are described along with a process map to understand the role of executive coaching styles within the coaching process. Implications and future research are explored and set the stage for a potential explosion of executive coaching style research as a key player in the “how” of executive coaching.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

David Morelli


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

169 pgs