B Eckstein 2017
Literature in the field of leadership development shows that leaders are sometimes not aware of their character strengths and thus do not use them to their advantage. Even a small coaching intervention using a Positive Psychology framework can lead to a shift in a person’s ‘way of being’ and enhance cognitive and other areas of functioning. The aim of this research was to explore accountants’ and lawyers’ perceptions of strengths-based coaching, with particular reference to recognising and using their character strengths in their leadership roles. An interpretive qualitative research methodology was used as it considers people’s experiences as meaningful. Within that framework, a multiple-case study method was used. The research data from the ten participants was gathered through semi-structured interviews to identify leaders’ awareness and use of strengths prior to the coaching programme. Changes in awareness and the application of participants’ strengths during the five individual coaching sessions was captured via the coach’s reflective notes. As the researcher was also the coach, for the purposes of triangulation, and to avoid social desirability bias, a qualified field assistant conducted the final interviews in order to identify leaders’ perceptions of the coaching process and the development of their strengths. The findings in this research assignment suggest that participants perceive that even a small number of coaching sessions using a strengths-based approach can increase awareness and use. of their strengths in their leadership roles. In addition it was found that most of the participants were in a state of transition in their leadership roles. Only two of the ten had previous experience of coaching. Those from the larger global organisations had been through a structured programme as they progressed to higher levels as leaders. Whereas, those from the medium-sized and smaller firms had no formalised grooming for leadership positions.