PURPOSE The primary aim of this paper is to conduct a thorough and systematic review of the empirical and practitioner research on executive, leadership and business coaching to assess the current empirical evidence for the effectiveness of coaching and the mechanisms underlying it. BACKGROUND Organisations are increasingly using business coaching as an intervention to improve the productivity and performance of their senior personnel. A consequence of this increased application is the demand for empirical data to understand the process by which it operates and its demonstrable efficacy in achieving pre-set goals. METHOD This paper is a systematic review of the academic and practitioner literature pertaining to the effectiveness of business and executive coaching as a developmental intervention for organisations. It focuses on published articles, conference papers and theses that cover business, leadership or executive coaching within organisations over the last 10 years. CONCLUSIONS The main findings show that coaching is an effective tool that benefits organisations and a number of underlying facets contribute to this effectiveness. However, there is deficiency and scope for further investigation in key aspects of the academic research and we identify several areas that need further research and practitioner attention. .