Why interpersonal dominance and affiliation matter: an interaction analysis of the coach-client relationship

Authors: Simone Kauffeld, Patrizia Ianiro, Carsten Schermuly

There is growing evidence that coaching is effective. However, little is known about the process variables critical for coaching success. Friendliness, openness and empathy are important. However, they do not necessarily lead to a sustainable and trusting relationship between coach and client.   

A recent publication by Prof. Dr. Simone Kauffeld, Patrizia Ianiro and Carsten Schermuly examines the contribution of the behavioral dimensions “affiliation” and “dominance” for a positive coaching relationship and coaching success. Affiliation includes the friendliness. Dominance is the sovereign, self-confident attitude that the client expects of the coach. The client wants to be led by the coaching process, which is also required by the coach. But how dominant should the coach be?   

For the study, coaching sessions were evaluated by video analysis with the Mangold INTERACT Software. The analysis shows that coach and client do not differ much from each other concerning affiliation dimensions – both show a similar kind.

There were major differences in dominance behavior. The study concludes that coaching will be particularly successful when coach and client show a similar dominance behavior. Although the client wants to be led, he is also aware of his own essential contribution in the success of the coaching. He would like to be acknowledged at “eye-level” with the coach. This contributes to the fact that the relationship is perceived by the client as being particularly constructive and successful.

 More: Link to Journal "Coaching"

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