Purpose – The concept of managers assuming developmental roles such as coaches and learning facilitators has received considerable attention in recent years. Yet, despite the growing body of expert opinion that suggests that coaching is an essential core activity of everyday management and leadership, the literature base remains largely atheoretical and devoid of empirical research. While there is some consensus about what effective coaching looks like, little if any empirical research has examined ineffective coaching behaviours. The purpose of this paper is to compare the empirical findings from three separately conducted studies to derive a comprehensive understanding of the ineffective behaviours associated with managerial coaching. Design/methodology/approach – The current study adopted a cross-national “etic” methodology based on the empirical findings generated by three previously conducted and purposefully selected “emic” studies. Drawing on Berry's and Lyons and Chryssochoous' “emic-etic” approach and cross-cultural comparisons, the researchers employed Guba and Lincoln's file card approach to analyze and compare the three behavioral datasets of the previously conducted studies. Findings – The findings from this cross-national comparative “etic” study revealed that the vast majority of ineffective coaching behaviours previously identified in the emic studies were held in common with each other. The predominant ineffective behaviours included using an autocratic, directive, controlling or dictatorial style, ineffective communication and dissemination of information, and inappropriate behaviours and approaches to working with employees. Of the 17 ineffective behaviours that were compared only three were not held in common. Research limitations/implications – Limitations associated with this cross-national study included minor variations in the use of data collection approaches and samples of managers in the previously conducted emic studies. Practical implications – The ineffective managerial coaching behaviours derived from the cross-national comparisons can be integrated as diagnostic tools into coaching training programmes and management and leadership development programmes to improve the practice of managerial coaching. They can also be used to increase managers' awareness of the behaviours that impede their coaching interventions with their respective employees. Originality/value – The literature base on coaching in general and managerial coaching in particular has been criticized for not being research-informed and evidence-based, but rather predominantly practice-driven and guru-led. The findings from the current cross-national etic study not only add to a sparse base of empirical research on managerial coaching, but also illuminate an underdeveloped area, namely that of ineffective managerial coaching practice. Furthermore, the findings provide a foundation on which to compare and contrast future empirical research that may be conducted on managerial coaching behaviours.