Communication quality and relational self-expansion: The path to leadership coaching effectiveness

Angela M. Passarelli, Mai P. Trinh, Ellen B. Van Oosten, Amanda Varley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Leadership coaching—a relational process by which a professional coach works with a leader to support their development—is a common component of learning and development portfolios in organizations. Despite broad agreement about the importance of the coaching relationship, relational processes remain undertheorized, failing to account for the growth and intertwining of coach-leader self-concepts as they engage in a generative and co-creative coaching process. To address these shortcomings, we reconceptualize the relational process within coaching as one of relational self-expansion and theorize that the communication channel and communication quality impact relational self-expansion which, in turn, influences coaching effectiveness. Our hypotheses are tested in a field experiment featuring random assignment to experimental conditions (communication channels) in which a coaching intervention was deployed in five organizations. Using structural equation modeling, we demonstrated that communication quality and relational self-expansion during the coaching process positively predicted coaching effectiveness. Contrary to expectations, communication quality did not differ by channel (phone, videoconference, face-to-face) nor did it predict relational self-expansion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-680
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Resource Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • leadership
  • mentoring
  • training and development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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