Over a period of fifteen years executive coaching being used as a support to leaders in their role has grown from a relatively unknown approach to a mainstream activity in organisations and is likely the fastest growing developmental method in Sweden. Its definition and purpose covers a wide spectrum and the activity is poorly defined. There are a number of questions about the contribution of the service to individual and organisational success and to effectiveness on both an individual and an organisational level.

The overarching aim of this research is to explore, describe and acquire a deeper understanding of how executive coaching supports leaders in their role. The point of departure has been to investigate the interaction going on between the stakeholders involved, namely the executive coach, the coachee and the sponsoring organisation. The aim is to provide a research-informed Executive Coaching Buying-in Model to facilitate the buying-in process for the Swedish market.

A qualitative research method based on a hermeneutic perspective was designed. 73 semi-structured individual interviews and four group interviews involving 12 persons were conducted. In total 85 respondents participated in the study. The respondents came from various types of companies including Global companies, Government authorities, Small entrepreneurial companies, Municipalities, Management consulting companies and Swedish coach companies. The theoretical perspectives used included psychological theories, leadership theories as well as other influences and roots of Executive Coaching.

Some interesting conclusions can be drawn from the study. For example a distinct differentiation between executive coaching and other types of coaching is preferable for the outcome-process and also from an organisational perspective. The borders between executive coaching, counselling and psychotherapy are indistinct and today virtually anyone could claim to be an executive coach. The market calls for more research and those involved in the executive coaching assignment need to be more aware of the various processes going on during the buying-in process. Based on the findings a seven-stage Executive coaching Buying-in Model was constructed.

When it comes to the Swedish market certain areas are defined for future research. One central issue is to further work in distinguishing and defining the concept of Executive Coaching in relation to other coaching services and activities. Another matter is to ascertain qualifications for an executive coach with a focus on special competencies, professional training and curriculum. Furthermore it seems necessary to establish clear borders between executive coaching and other developmental tools. It also would be of value to evaluate and find new systems to measure the effect of executive coaching and its outcome. Another desirable task is to investigate and clarify the activities of the main coaching bodies in terms of their similarities and divergences and to be able to create an overall standard and certification system that is mutually agreed. Finally applying, testing and implementing the Executive Coaching Buying-in Model constructed as a result of this research are seen as a part of future research activities.