What Curious Coaches Want to Know: the Top Research Topics of 2019

Somehow, bewilderingly, we’re already entering the final month of 2019. The year’s end always offers ample opportunity for reflection – what did we accomplish? What did we learn? What are we still seeking? Unsurprisingly, MRG is a particularly reflective environment, and as we close out the year, we ask those questions not only personally, but organizationally as well.

While these “big questions” don’t always have a simple or straightforward answer, I thought I could at least start with an empirical approach – what were people learning from us in 2019? I took a look at the research we shared over the past year to see which topics drew the most attention in 2019. While the sought-after topics spanned everything from industry best practices to leaders going off the rails, there were five content areas that were in the most demand over the last 12 months.

(A note: while I’ve posted links where you can download many of these pieces by submitting your contact information on MRG.com, if you’re certified with MRG, you can access all of this research and more with a single login via the MRG Knowledge Base.)

Drumroll… let the countdown begin!

  1. Finding and Coaching Tomorrow’s Leaders

In many countries, the current labor market is tight, making it a particularly critical time to nurture and retain your best internal talent. It’s not surprising, then, that high potential identification and development were among the most sought-after research topics. Research identifying 5 unique profiles of high-potential leaders was one of our top downloads, as was this whitepaper that explored which behaviors effective leaders emphasize – and de-emphasize – as they rise through the ranks.

  1. Shared Leadership

More and more organizations are coming to realize that a single “superhero” leader doesn’t exist. It’s time to stop searching for unicorns and instead move toward a shared leadership model, which capitalizes on the strengths of multiple leaders to achieve organizational goals. Tricia Naddaff and Maria Brown delivered a popular webinar on the topic in the fall.

  1. Preventing Derailment

It’s painful to watch a once-promising leader start to go off track and veer toward ineffectiveness. And as a coach, it may be your responsibility to prevent derailment. Perhaps that’s why our recent webinar, Keeping Leaders on Track: Spotting the Signs of Derailment, drew coaches from around the world to learn about the four derailer profiles and how to get them back on track.

  1. Compassionate Leadership

As our political and societal climate becomes increasingly contentious, it’s no wonder that people are curious about how to develop leaders who demonstrate more compassion. After a well-received presentation at the European Mentoring and Coaching Council conference in Dublin with David Ringwood and Feena May, Maria Brown delivered a blockbuster webinar on the subject: Compassionate Leadership: Coaching Leaders to Turn Empathy into Action.

  1. Coaching for Confidence

We recently began gathering LEA 360™ data on self-confidence – and with a multi-rater assessment, we can compare people’s felt self-confidence with how self-confident they appear to others. This led to a surprising finding: there is no significant relationship between the two. People who feel self-confident are no more likely to convey confidence than those who don’t feel self-confident. We revealed this finding early in the year at the Society for Consulting Psychology annual conference , and you all took notice. A subsequent webinar, a related research summary, and a coaching crib sheet on the topic were among our most in-demand research releases, making this our hottest research topic of 2019.


At MRG, we’ve been collecting data from leaders around the world for over 35 years – there are nearly infinite lenses through which to examine it. Do you have a suggestion for a new study? A topic that would resonate for you in the coming year? Let us know! Email research@mrg.com with your suggestions – we’d love to explore them together!


About the author

Lucy is the Head of Marketing at MRG. She's a passionate people person who talks with her hands even when she's on the phone. She will not rest until everyone on earth has taken their IDI.

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