Building personal resilience : how can executive coaching contribute

Wilkinson, Jane (2014-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The need for leaders who can cope with the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of today’s business world through developing or acquiring specific skills is an absolute necessity. Leaders need a ‘meta-skill of coping flexibility’ and to demonstrate agility in order to survive in the turbulent times that are not likely to settle down for some time. Occupational stress has reached extreme levels due to the pace of life, greater expectations, reduced job security and the ongoing introduction of new technology. Increasingly resilience is mentioned as the necessary competence for leaders of the current and future business world. Resiliency is about having the ability to adapt to changing situations and stressful situations. Executive coaching has many benefits, including providing leaders with a greater ability to deal with change, increased leadership self-efficacy and resilience and a decrease in depression. This study aimed to contribute to the field of Executive Coaching by investigating the current self- perceived levels of personal resilience in executives and designing a coaching process tailored to specific requirements to see whether there is an effect on the self-perceived levels of resilience. These self-perceived levels of resilience in the executives were then investigated after the coaching process to establish whether the coaching had an effect. Thirty-five (35) questionnaires were completed and a coaching participant group of four and a control group of four were selected using a random selection method. The four coaching participants completed four coaching sessions each. At the end of the sessions, the coaching participants and the control group participants were asked to complete the same questionnaire and the results were analysed and compared. The study found that the scores of the second questionnaire of all of the coaching participants increased and in the case of three of the control group participants the score decreased, which indicates that the coaching sessions made a positive impact on personal resilience levels. The coaching methodology used included cognitive behavioural and solution-focused techniques, as well as positive psychology, as suggested by the literature. Recommendations from the study include the need to develop resilience as a foundational leadership skill as well as throughout the leader’s career. Executives should engage in coaching to increase their ability to cope with and grow from business challenges. The genre of executive coaching can be enhanced with specific focus on building resilience skills in a flexible, yet effective way, in order to have a positive impact on the leader and the organisation.

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