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Leadership coaching in a multigenerational workforce – a case in the engineering sector.

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In the current volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment, the case in this study, an engineering consulting organisation based in KwaZulu-Natal, has found itself navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fifth Industrial Revolution, and a multigenerational workforce. Faced with these dynamic shifts, leadership has needed to cope with the various impacts. Intrinsically, leaders have needed to be aware of themselves, of their strengths, opportunities, and challenges that could be associated with these different contextual shifts. Furthermore, the leadership team has been required to cultivate a robust pipeline of future leaders from a multigenerational team. The purpose of the study was to explore leadership coaching readiness to harness new leadership skills, which would enable leaders to improve on their emotional intelligence skills in order to bridge generational gaps. The research was underpinned by a qualitative exploratory research methodology using participatory action research. The strategy was to use a case study with a phenomenological philosophy. Through purposive sampling and use of primary data collection methods, namely, interviews, focus groups, and observations, the objectives were met. Desktop research was conducted to review the extant literature. The thematic analysis tool, NVivo, was used and triangulation of the data sets was implemented. A specific leadership coaching model, crafted for the organisation being studied, included an emotional intelligence element, which resulted in an innovative approach to accelerate the development of future leadership in a multigenerational workforce and which also contributes to the existing body of knowledge. The study highlighted that the expression and appraisal of emotions, use of emotions in decision-making, knowledge of emotions, and management of moods or emotions are critical aspects of emotional intelligence, and, if brought into a coaching intervention, can benefit the leadership and organisation. The recommendations are: the addition of a mentoring element; team coaching interventions to bring the multigenerational workforce together in order to build on relationships; and developing an understanding of the learning gained to ensure the transference of skills to the younger generation, thereby enabling them to work toward professional registration. These recommendations would enhance employee engagement and retention.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.