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Coaching as second‐order observations Learning from site managers in the construction industry

Coaching as second‐order observations Learning from site managers in the construction industry Purpose – Executive coaching has emerged as a widely used leadership development practice in organizations. To date, however, the literature on coaching is largely devoid of studies of how coaching works in practice and no unified comprehensive theoretical framework has been agreed upon which supports the practice of coaching. This paper aims to draw on the social systems theory of Niklas Luhmann and argue that the distinction between first‐ and second‐order observations is central to the practice of coaching. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reports on a yearlong study of the coaching of site managers in construction projects. The study shows that coaching actively helped the site managers to relate to their previous experiences and modes of operating and to conceive of new and effective ways of leading their work. Findings – The participating site managers looked upon the coaching program as being helpful both with regard to dealing with practical day‐to‐day problems and concerns and with regard to their development as managers. Above all, the site managers appreciated being provided with a space where they could articulate their problems and discuss them with an external interlocutor. Practical implications – Coaching programs may be helpful for both site and other managers in the construction industry, and in other industries. Further research is needed to explore the benefits and limitations of executive coaching. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the literature on coaching by providing a study of coaching wherein both coaches and coachees are given a voice and by means of references to Luhmann's work. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Leadership & Organization Development Journal Emerald Publishing

Coaching as second‐order observations Learning from site managers in the construction industry

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0143-7739
DOI
10.1108/01437730810861326
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – Executive coaching has emerged as a widely used leadership development practice in organizations. To date, however, the literature on coaching is largely devoid of studies of how coaching works in practice and no unified comprehensive theoretical framework has been agreed upon which supports the practice of coaching. This paper aims to draw on the social systems theory of Niklas Luhmann and argue that the distinction between first‐ and second‐order observations is central to the practice of coaching. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reports on a yearlong study of the coaching of site managers in construction projects. The study shows that coaching actively helped the site managers to relate to their previous experiences and modes of operating and to conceive of new and effective ways of leading their work. Findings – The participating site managers looked upon the coaching program as being helpful both with regard to dealing with practical day‐to‐day problems and concerns and with regard to their development as managers. Above all, the site managers appreciated being provided with a space where they could articulate their problems and discuss them with an external interlocutor. Practical implications – Coaching programs may be helpful for both site and other managers in the construction industry, and in other industries. Further research is needed to explore the benefits and limitations of executive coaching. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the literature on coaching by providing a study of coaching wherein both coaches and coachees are given a voice and by means of references to Luhmann's work.

Journal

Leadership & Organization Development JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: May 9, 2008

Keywords: Coaching; Managers; Construction industry

References