Original Research

The experienced impact of systems psychodynamic leadership coaching amongst professionals in a financial services organisation

Frans Cilliers
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 21, No 1 | a2091 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v21i1.2091 | © 2018 Frans Cilliers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 September 2017 | Published: 29 October 2018

About the author(s)

Frans Cilliers, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, School of Management Sciences, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, South Africa


Background: Systems psychodynamic leadership coaching is a depth psychology perspective that provides opportunities for coachees to explore their leadership identity as it manifests in their conscious and unconscious role behaviour.

Aim: The research aim was to explore the experienced impact of systems psychodynamic leadership coaching amongst professionals in a financial services organisation, and to report on how this impact can be understood in the context of the literature guidelines on coaching and leadership effectiveness.

Setting: The research was undertaken in a large South African financial services organisation where individual leadership coaching forms part of the leadership development programme (LDP).

Methods: The research was qualitative, explorative and descriptive in nature. A multi-case approach was used. Sampling was convenient and opportunistic and comprised of 15 charted accountants who attended six 90-min coaching sessions over 12 weeks. Data gathering comprised field notes and coachee essays during and after coaching. Hermeneutic phenomenology was used as the interpretive stance.

Results: Anxiety, task, role, boundaries, authorisation and identity manifested as themes. Coachees explored how their leadership identity was informed by their anxiety and defence mechanisms, how they took up their leadership role, authorised themselves and their colleagues, and managed their boundaries effectively. Compared to the general guidelines for leadership coaching effectiveness and the general indicators for effective leadership, systems psychodynamic leadership coaching seems to add value to leadership effectiveness.

Conclusion: Professionals in this financial services organisation experienced systems psychodynamic leadership coaching as demanding, challenging and yet fulfilling towards the exploration of their leadership identity. It seems that systems psychodynamics, as coaching stance, created a safe and good-enough container for these financial professionals to explore their own unconscious leadership behaviour and to gain a significant level of understanding and awareness of their own anxiety and defensive behaviours in their interaction with followers.


anxiety; task; role; boundaries; authorisation; identity


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Crossref Citations

1. ROGUE: A new coaching model to enhance understanding and clarity
Tarek Jomaa
The Coaching Psychologist  vol: 19  issue: 2  first page: 32  year: 2023  
doi: 10.53841/bpstcp.2023.19.2.32