Original Research

Executive coaching in diversity from the systems psychodynamic perspective

Lerato Motsoaledi, Frans Cilliers
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 38, No 2 | a988 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v38i2.988 | © 2012 Lerato Motsoaledi, Frans Cilliers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 May 2011 | Published: 19 March 2012

About the author(s)

Lerato Motsoaledi, University of South Africa, South Africa
Frans Cilliers, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Orientation: The researcher applied role analysis from the systems psychodynamic perspective to executives in state departments to improve their awareness of the unconscious diversity dynamics that affect their roles.

Research purpose: The purpose of this research was to describe the application of systems psychodynamic role analysis and to determine its trustworthiness in assisting executives to work effectively with conscious and unconscious diversity dynamics in their organisations.

Motivation for the study: Executives generally struggle to understand the deeper meaning of diversity behaviour that manifests inside and around them, leading to conflict. Without understanding the unconscious meaning of the behaviour, organisations founder easily. Awareness of below-the-surface behaviour leads to insight and taking responsibility for diversity-related behaviours.

Research design, approach and method: The researcher coached six executives in South African state departments over a period of 10 months. The coaching addressed and analysed the executives’ organisational roles. She analysed the data using discourse analysis.

Main findings: Themes relating to the diversity dynamics of gender, race, ethnicity, authority, disability, language, age, de-authorisation of diversity work and the coaching process emerged. The coaching assisted the executives to gain insights into below-the-surface diversity dynamics, to address diversity in a sustained manner and to take up their organisational roles more effectively.

Practical/managerial implications: Coached executives will have a more objective and dynamic experience of diversity issues that manifest in organisations, between colleagues and within themselves.

Contribution/value-add: Executive coaching from a systems psychodynamic perspective displays trustworthiness in improving participants’ diversity awareness, especially with regard to gender, race, ethnicity and authorisation.


Organisational role analysis; gender; race; ethnicity; authority; disability; language; leadership


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doi: 10.1108/JOE-10-2017-0052