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Title: Coaching for gravitas : an action research inquiry into the development of gravitas in leadership
Author: Scott, Ian R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 6404
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2016
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This study aims to develop a theoretical and practical model of coaching for gravitas in a business leadership context. Gravitas is described as a psychological phenomenon and concept used frequently, but not well researched and understood. While leadership practitioners frequently refer to gravitas as a desirable quality, there have been no specific empirical studies into gravitas as either a leadership quality or more general phenomenon. A review of the literature specifically associates gravitas with the leadership concepts of authenticity and charisma, which are often discussed together with the concepts of power and authority. The role of followers is described as important in all leaders’ qualities, but the context of a leader’s organisation is a frequent omission in typical studies. A collaborative action research approach was adopted with six practising leaders and 12 of their followers from one organisation. An initial model of coaching for gravitas was developed and four cycles of action research were conducted over a 12-month period. The first action research cycle used a conceptual encounter method to create a conceptual model of gravitas that was specific for the six leaders coached during the next three cycles of research. The evolved conceptual model described gravitas through four dimensions of confidence, courage, communication, and control. Under each dimension, potentially coachable elements were identified and explored in action with the participants over subsequent research cycles. Specific coaching methods were used to develop these elements. A wide range of data was collected and analysed using thematic analysis. The findings suggested that situational forces on individual gravitas constantly moved and that the model of an individual’s gravitas was therefore always changing. The leaders learned how to recognise these forces and use them for focusing their attention. In spite of individual differences, the embodied reactions of leaders to the reported feelings of gravitas showed significant similarities. A weight and stillness of the body and mind was connected to the ability to see clearly in changing situations involving complex forces in action. Recognition of these feelings enabled an active use of them in practice. Participants described reflective processes within the action research as the most informative part of the coaching process. The journey of the participants and researcher was translated into a mapped process allowing development of a model of gravitas useful for recognition in themselves and others. The study concludes with a number of implications for leadership theory and practice, suggesting that coaching can contribute to the development of leadership gravitas.
Supervisor: Bachkirova, Tatiana Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.C.M.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Coaching ; Mentoring