How Does Client Readiness Influence Coaching Outcomes? | by Kerryn Griffiths PhD, PCC

Client and Coach looking at laptopThis article is shared with permission from Kerryn Griffiths PhD and is from her archives of "Coaching Research in Practice".

Editor's Foreword: This article is more 'technical' that our usual blog posts. It includes academic research and is written by academic and coach Kerryn Griffiths PhD - who is also the founder of ReciproCoach. It may be of interest that Kerryn's PhD topic was "The Process of Learning in Coaching".

In this article, Kerryn summarises research that looks at how important it is to coaching outcomes that the client is "ready" for coaching - referred to as "client readiness". Then read the "In Practice" section to see Kerryn's recommendations on what this actually means for us in our coaching practices, along with some resource links to assess client readiness.

Useful note: The abbreviation CSE (Core Self-Evaluation) is used throughout this article.

How Does Client Readiness Influence Coaching?

Most coaches are aware, to some degree, of the importance of their coachee's readiness to change. However, few coaches understand the factors that comprise this readiness and which factors influence coaching outcomes.

This issue of Coaching Research in Practice considers the phenomenon of coachee readiness in leadership coaching. It highlights the contributing factors in coachee readiness, identifies those that are most influential and also suggests resources for coaches to use in evaluating the readiness of their clients.

Coaching Research:

In a study of thirty executives and senior managers from a large not-for-profit organization, MacKie (2014) investigated "the impact of coachee readiness for change and core personality traits as both criteria and predictors of outcomes after strength-based leadership coaching" (p. 120). MacKie started with two hypotheses (p. 124):

(1) Readiness to develop, readiness to change and CSEs [Core Self-Evaluations i.e. an individual's subconscious, fundamental evaluations about themselves] will increase as a function of participating in strength-based executive coaching.
(2) Developmental and coaching readiness and CSEs in the coachee prior to engaging in executive coaching will be predictive of leadership outcomes after executive coaching. Participants who display a higher initial readiness for change and who evaluate themselves more positively on CSEs will show a greater increase in TL [transformational leadership] behaviour as a result of participating in the coaching process.

The study participants were broken into two cohorts. Cohort 1 (C1) received coaching first, while cohort 2 (C2) waited several months to begin coaching.

Each study participant engaged in 6 sessions (9 hours) of coaching.

At the outset of coaching, C1 participants completed a multi-factor leadership questionnaire, a strengths-based questionnaire, a coaching readiness assessment, a core self-evaluation assessment and a developmental readiness questionnaire. They also received feedback on their answers to the multi-factor leadership questions and strengths-based questionnaire.

C2 participants completed the assessments and questionnaires, but were put on a waitlist to start coaching four months later and did not receive feedback until then.

At the conclusion of coaching, C1 completed the assessments and questionnaires again and then for a third time four months later. C2 completed the assessments and questionnaires a second time, in addition to receiving feedback on their answers to the multi-factor leadership questions and strengths-based questionnaire, before engaging in coaching and completing assessments again after concluding.

From this study, the following findings (from p. 133) emerged:

  • Developmental readiness (comprised of motivation and an ability to develop) increased somewhat over the total timeline of the study but not immediately after the coaching intervention
  • Developmental readiness dropped significantly while waiting for coaching
  • Developmental readiness may be sensitive to expectations around change and can drop when those expectations are not fulfilled
  • Coaching readiness dropped significantly while clients awaited coaching
  • Coaching readiness increased somewhat immediately after coaching for the group that began coaching immediately, whereas it increased significantly immediately after coaching for the group that waited for their coaching to begin (however the measured increase may be due to the decline they experienced while waiting)
  • CSEs did not decline while clients awaited coaching
  • CSEs increased somewhat after coaching
  • CSEs appear to be more robust and stable than both developmental and coaching readiness, which appear to decline if immediate developmental actions are not forthcoming
  • Coaching readiness and core self-evaluations appeared to impact leadership coaching outcomes (measured in this study via the multi-factor leadership questionnaire), but developmental readiness did not.

In Practice:

As MacKie suggests, the results of this study "offer partial support for the use of coaching readiness and CSEs as a method to pre-screen potential coaching candidates and identify who will benefit most from a leadership coaching intervention" (p. 133).

An obvious point for practice here is to include a readiness assessment in your coaching intake process.

Not all of the assessments used in this study are open access, but, if you would like to begin assessing the readiness of your coachees before you begin working with them, you may like to try:

I also came across this coaching readiness quiz that might inspire you to implement something similar on your coaching website.

MacKie's paper itself also provided explanations for each scale/assessment, which may be useful in developing your own instrument for assessing your potential clients' readiness for change.

What do you think about the findings of this research? Share your thoughts below.


MacKie, D. (2015). The effects of coachee readiness and core self-evaluations on leadership coaching outcomes: A controlled trial. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 8(2), 120-136, DOI: 10.1080/17521882.2015.1019532

Translating coaching research into coaching practice, Kerryn Griffiths (PhD - The Process of Learning in Coaching) Global ReciproCoach Coordinator

If you liked this article, you may also like:

Kerryn Griffiths Headshot

Contributing Author:

Kerryn Griffiths, PhD (coaching and learning), is the founder and global coordinator of ReciproCoach, an international community of professional coaches for quality, affordable reciprocal peer coaching, mentoring and supervision. Join thousands of like-minded coaches at with the coupon code: CoachingToolsCo and not only will you be on your way to having your own coach, but you'll also receive a year's subscription to your choice of one of the ReciproCoach Business resources ($27.50 value).

Learn more about Kerryn & see all their articles here >>

Image of Coach and Client Reviewing Client Readiness by Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock


  1. Joseph D'Souza

    Thank you! Great to see this reference on something I have intuitively known throughout my coaching work. Context too is a validating companion which is about what else is going on in all aspects of one's life. For me I categorize these as Self as Human Being (no titles or roles etc!), our Relational world - not just key people in our lives, but also how we relate to our environment i.e. nature, other living kingdoms etc) and finally our Professional or Vocational world. The dynamics, not to mention the signficant inter dependencies, in all these areas provide a platform for understanding one's readiness to grow, evolve, self reflect and consider.

    • mturcott

      Thank you for sharing your approach, Joseph! So glad you liked Dr. Griffiths article on how client rediness influences coaching outcomes! Warmly, Mary


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