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Self Efficacy & Coaching


Self Efficacy is defined (Bandura 1997 p.3) as “belief in one’s capabilities to organise and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments” It is concerned then with judgements about personal capability in a specific domain & individual expectation about capability for performance in future situations. Self-efficacy therefore can determine “how people feel, think, behave and motivate themselves” (Cox 2006) seemingly a powerful concept with a plethora of evidence based research to support its claims.

If self efficacy is accepted as a valid concept, here are some ideas & considerations of how it could influence our coaching practice;

Focus on building specific self efficacy perceptions rather than outcome expectations

Influence the building of high self-efficacy by providing feedback on coachees capabilities and performance (including challenge),

Give and encourage the coachee to consider positive vicarious experiences,

Give coachees feedback and encourage them to value others feedback regarding their capabilities

Encourage learners to reflect & judge their own ability in the task at hand (including physiological factors)

Encourage self-observation of specific behaviour, self-judgement of progress towards a specific goal and self-reaction of evaluative judgements of performance

Discuss self-efficacy with the coachee
Consider how coachees self efficacy beliefs may affect the goals that they set for themselves

Consider using anchoring as a technique to increase expectancy of specific task performance

Encourage the coachee to set themselves (culturally appropriate) challenging goals

Combine goals & feedback for optimal performance

Help coachees identify areas in which they are dissatisfied with their performance and also have a high self efficacy for optimal effort towards chosen goals

Support coachees in breaking down tasks into sub-goals, encourage them to monitor their own performance and give feedback to enhance performance

Consider how personal evaluative standards and self efficacy can synthesize in order to increase intrinsic interest in meeting goals

During assessment with a coachee use specific measures to determine benchmarks

When agreeing goals or discussing change or performance use specific & detail focussed questions

Listen for statements made by the coachee that would indicate high or low self-efficacy perceptions and construct questions designed to increase self-efficacy.

Encourage coachees to understand how failure can affect perceived self efficacy in order that future negative repercussions on performance can be combated

Ensure the coachee has a specific understanding of the task/goal

Suggest exploring additional development options in areas that may increase self efficacy (e.g. technology, complexity)

Consider levels of optimal perceived self efficacy differences that may exist in an individualist or collective culture.

Consider the influences of collective self efficacy in collective cultures


Bandura, A. (1997). Self Efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman

Cox, E. (2006). An adult learning approach to coaching. In Evidence Based Coaching Handbook. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Lynn Wernham


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