A coaching framework to facilitate transformative learning during senior leadership transitions
Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.
ENGLISH SUMMARY: When corporate leaders are promoted into senior positions, they face significant challenges on intrapersonal, interpersonal and systemic levels. The complex landscape of contemporary organisational dynamics, the fast rate of change and the need for strong, senior leadership exacerbate the situation. Transitioning leaders often fail to perform as expected in their new roles, with harmful effects to the individual, their colleagues and the organisation. Although challenging, career transitions present an opportunity for individual learning and growth. Learning takes a number of forms, ranging from superficially adjusting thinking and behavioural patterns on the one end of the spectrum, to challenging and adjusting deeply held world views and perspectives on the other. Organisations attempt to assist transitioning leaders. One method of support is transition coaching, a sub-category of business coaching. Transition coaching is not well researched or used adequately in practice. In addition, current approaches to transition coaching do not attempt to create overtly deep, lasting change in transitioning leaders. Transformative learning theory is a mature, well-researched field that offers the potential to create deep, permanent shifts in people. The present research set out to create an innovative transformative transition coaching framework that combines transformative learning theory and transition coaching approaches into a novel method to support transitioning leaders by facilitating deep, lasting changes in their world views and perspectives in order to help them succeed in their new roles. A two-phased research design consisting of a foundation phase using grounded theory principles, and an application phase using canonical action research was employed to create, refine and evolve the transformative transition coaching framework systematically. In the process, a number of research questions were answered. Firstly, insights were gained into the challenges faced by newly promoted senior leaders. Secondly, an understanding was obtained of the current use of transition coaching to support transitioning leaders. Thirdly, the challenges with which transition coaching could assist transitioning leaders were identified. Fourthly, a set of coaching techniques that could potentially facilitate transformative learning was identified. Fifthly, elements of transformative learning theory were incorporated into a transition coaching framework that appears to have the ability to facilitate deep, permanent changes (transformative learning) in transitioning leaders. These findings culminated in the creation of a new approach to coaching in the form of the transformative transition coaching framework. This research contributes at scholarly1, methodological and practical levels. On a scholarly level, coaching theory is enhanced through the creation of a new coaching sub-category, transformative transition coaching. Adult learning and transformative learning theories are enriched through the application of these theories in the domains of coaching and the corporate world, which fall outside of their traditional area of application in higher education. Leadership transition theory is enhanced through the creation of a novel support mechanism in the form of the transformative transition coaching framework. On a methodological level, this research presents a new way to approach coaching research by combining grounded theory principles with canonical action research. On a practical level, a new coaching framework is presented that could be used by coaches during transition coaching interventions. Purchasers of transition coaching services such as human resource practitioners and line managers could use the transformative transition coaching framework as a reference model to ascertain the comprehensiveness of services offered. Coaching training institutions could use the new coaching framework in the education of coaches to create awareness of the potential use of transformative learning and transition coaching. Note 1. Three journal articles were created from this research. Two have been published (Terblanche, Albertyn & Van Coller-Peter, 2017; Terblanche, Albertyn & Van Coller-Peter, in press) and one is under review (in African Journal of Business Ethics).
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