PhD Research Project

In spite of the all the time and money devoted the to the acquisition and development of leadership talent, reports suggest that 30-50% of leaders fail or underperform within the first 18 months of starting a new role. When the move is into a senior leadership position, the costs of failed transitions  to organisations financially and in terms of performance are magnified. Yet the area of coaching for leadership  transitions is under-researched, as the subject of very few empirical studies. 

I am currently conducting a PhD research study to address this, by exploring group coaching for the transition to a senior leadership position. Also under-researched, group coaching places individual development within the context of the organisation. It addresses the relational nature of leadership and can lead to the development of new ways of acting and being. These are fundamental to making decisions and influencing others in the face of uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity . 

MSc Research Dissertation Abstract, 2011

People in business have been adapting to developments in technology and in response to globalisation for more than 50 years. Many of the rewards of automation and efficient management practices have now been reaped and the challenge lies in getting the most from the people within organisations. In many cases this requires more than a change in what people do and how, but also who they are in terms of what they as individuals can bring to work such as their mindset, beliefs and priorities. This research project explores what allows people to adapt, and be adaptable, so they are better able to respond to the challenges in business today and in the future. With this greater understanding coaches will be equipped to work with their clients, not only by supporting them to adapt more effectively, but also by enabling them to become more adaptable.

The research was designed to develop a definition of what it means to adapt that is grounded in experience. As well as a definition, it explores how people adapt in terms of what they do and how, as well as the attributes they possess that underpin it. Data was collected from people who had experience of adapting to change as well as coaches and leaders who worked with people to adapt to change. In addition to a review of relevant literature, data was collected from 19 semi-structured interviews and 38 responses to an online survey. 

The research found that there are two different ways to adapt. Technically, meaning developing a new skill, and psychologically which means changing mindsets and beliefs. Both require flexibility as defined as the ability to adjust actions and ideas in response to changing situations. In order that an individual’s response to change is effective this ability must be underpinned by four enabling attributes. These are a willingness to learn, a capacity for relationships, a focus on the future and a balanced approach to change. Being adaptable and able to adapt at a psychological level also requires two core attributes, inner freedom and security both in self and abilities. 

Coaching can facilitate the development of these attributes. The confidential relationship provides a secure and supportive environment which allows for challenge, support and necessary critical reflection. This can provide a challenge to the limiting beliefs that restrict an objective view of the triggers and implications of change and aspects of identity and abilities that hinder adaptation. 






2020 Oct

Are you wasting time building resilience? 

Linked-In Article

2020 Oct

To be resilient, or to adapt…. That is the question!

2019 Jan

Where does the need for resilience end and the need to adapt begin?

Coaching Perspectives, Association of Coaching


An Exploration of Adaptability and the attributes that underpin it

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching 


Values and Leadership in the current climate

Professional Marketing

2010 July 

Never the same again – Law Firm Development in a changing world

Professional Marketing 


Academic Papers 




2009 Aug 

How does developing the Inner Freedom to Act help Leaders?

2009 Oct 

How can organisation development be applied to prepare law firms for business post recession?

2009 April 

What are the values required for successful leadership in the current economic climate?

2008 June 

What are the personal qualities required for leadership in the 21stCentury professional services organisation?

2008 May 

The Personal Development of a Coach

2008 Feb 

What does a Change Management Consultant need to consider and be able to do to become a business coach?




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