Developing leaders for an uncertain future: an investigation of the benefits of formulation-based executive coaching

Corrie, Sarah (2023) Developing leaders for an uncertain future: an investigation of the benefits of formulation-based executive coaching. In: Together for Transformation: Research for a Changing World Conference, 24 May 2023, University of Suffolk, Ipswich.

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This presentation describes recent research which examines how the use of formulation might enhance the practice of executive coaching for leaders and for leadership development.


Executive coaching is now a well-established means of developing leaders, and widely regarded as an effective intervention for a range of issues facing individuals, teams and organisations. Yet, as the business world becomes more uncertain, unpredictable, complex and global, coaches need new methods for working effectively with the challenges that their clients face. Although its theoretical influences are expanding, historically the coaching literature has paid scant attention to the role of formulation. Formulation is the process through which a coach conceptualises a client’s dilemma or concern, identifies the factors of influence, and uses this understanding to devise innovative interventions. Already well-established in psychology, formulation is increasingly identified as a necessary skill for coaches. This research project contributes to the emerging literature on how formulation can support executive coaching and how to develop formulations that can enhance coaching outcomes.


The research findings are derived from realist evaluation, an approach to data analysis developed within a critical realist paradigm.


The findings suggest that formulation can assist executive coaches in working with leaders, and especially in helping leaders manage complexity. The results also suggest that coaches find formulation beneficial to understanding their clients’ needs, and as a basis for selecting interventions to bring about desired change. The implications of underpinning coaching with formulation are considered along with recommendations for future research and practice.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: coaching, formulation, leaders, leadership development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Applied Social Sciences
Depositing User: Sarah Corrie
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2023 09:08
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2023 09:08

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