Coaching executive leaders using digital platforms: a South Africa perspective

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In-person face-to-face coaching is slowly fading into the background as digital technology becomes more prominent in the way business is conducted. The advancement of digital technology was hastened by the Covid pandemic, forcing most business to adapt to a virtual space. As early as 2018, digital coaching was listed as the thirteenth trend in the coaching industry and by 2020, this had moved up to the second place. In a space of two years, its prominence in the industry moved 11 places, which likely was accelerated by the pandemic. Given this context, the main problem is understanding digital technology’s role in coaching executive leaders. The objective of this research paper was to explore coaches’ adaptation to the digital world and the influence the use of digital technology was having on the overall competency requirements of the coach. Cognitive Behavioural Coaching and Constructive Learning Theory forms the foundation of this research paper, and as the researcher was interested in the lived experiences of the research participants, an Interpretative phenomenological analysis approach was adopted. A total of eleven coaches were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the results of the transcribed interviews, resulting in several pertinent themes. The findings highlighted the speedy transition of experienced South African coaches from predominately in-person face-to-face coaching to a more hybrid coaching model with a heavier reliance on digital coaching and a preference to remain in the digital space. It also highlighted a need to revisit the competency requirements of coaches to include a digital component. The study gives insight into the change agility of more experience coaches and their ability to adapt to digital technology in a space dominated by in-person face-to-face methodology. It adds to the body of knowledge of how these coaches have transitioned during this time and also the rapid learning they had to adapt.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Management (in Business and Executive Coaching) to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022
Digital coaching, Digital technology, Coache's competencies