Original Research

Positive psychology leadership coaching experiences in a financial organisation

Frans Cilliers
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 37, No 1 | a933 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v37i1.933 | © 2011 Frans Cilliers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 August 2010 | Published: 27 October 2011

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Frans Cilliers, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Orientation: Organisations are practising leadership coaching more and more from a positive psychology perspective, yielding positive results. The current qualitative research focused on this coaching using work engagement, learned resourcefulness, sense of coherence, selfactualisationand locus of control as constructs. Although the researcher could find no previous research on this combination of constructs, the findings did link to previous studies with other constructs and combinations.

Research purpose: The purpose of this research was to describe the positive psychology leadership coaching experiences of leaders in a large financial organisation. Motivation for the study: The researcher addressed the organisation’s need to develop leadership by structuring and presenting a coaching programme. He chose positive psychology as the paradigm and experiential learning as the method to meet the organisation’s goal of enabling its leaders to take up their roles with self-awareness, internal motivation and effective interpersonal connections.

Research design, approach and method: The researcher used a qualitative and descriptive research design with a case study. Leaders attended ten experiential leadership-coaching sessions over three months. The sessions focused on work engagement, learned resourcefulness, sense of coherence, self-actualisation values and locus of control. The data gathering consisted of the coach’s field notes and the participants’ reflective essays, which they wrote after the last coaching session. The researcher analysed the data using discourse analysis.

Main findings: The manifesting themes were the coaching context, engagement in roles, understanding role complexity, emotional self-awareness and demands, self-authorisation and inability to facilitate the growth of others.

Contribution/value-add: Although intrapersonal awareness increased significantly, leaders struggled with the interpersonal complexity of the leadership role. Positive psychology leadership coaching should refine the operationalisation of interpersonal effectiveness.

Practical/managerial implications: Organisations should integrate the methodology of leadership coaching with leadership development interventions to expose leaders to better intrapersonal awareness and functioning.


Leadership coaching; positive psychology; engagement; learned resourcefulness; sense of coherence, self-actualisation values; locus of control


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