Thesis (DCM)

Peak moments: the experience of coaches


Peak moments are considered by McInman and Grove (1991) to be a global panacea, and include peak experience (Maslow, 1964), peak performance (Privette, 1983) and flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Peak moments are an under-researched phenomenon in coaching. They could, in principle, be important and motivating experiences, adding a unique and profound richness to the coaching experience. Extant studies focussing on ‘aha’, ‘breakthrough’ and ‘critical moments’ for coachees and coaches discuss the cognitive and not the phenomenological experience. This study aspires to address this gap in the coaching literature. Using a heuristic approach, ten UK coaches with a minimum of eight years’ experience were interviewed about their encounters with peak moments and the interviews were analysed. The findings suggest that peak experience is a rarity in coaching, a transcendental and spontaneous moment of ineffable joy; peak performance validates the coach’s confidence in their skills through feedback from coachees and third parties; and the concept of flow, much discussed in positive psychology, is regularly experienced in coaching, enabling rapport to be strengthened between coach and coachee. The coaches’ feelings, both inside and outside the body, are explored, and findings suggest that the coach becomes a “conduit” in the sense that when coaches draw on their insights, intuition and tacit knowing, a peak moment is more likely to emerge. The analysis in Chapter Five revealed five core conditions which, when applied to coaching, increased the likelihood of the occurrence of a peak moment. In Chapter Six, these conditions are built upon and integrated with the findings from Chapter Four, the role of the coach’s emotions in the coaching dyad. The implications of these findings relate to the joy and engagement of coaching as a vitalising, aesthetic experience, adding richness through the connectedness and collaborative engagement between coach and coachee.

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Weijers, Kay A M


Supervisors: Cox, Elaine; Myers, Adrian

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford Brookes Business School


Year: 2021

© Weijers, Kay A M
Published by Oxford Brookes University
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