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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM23-QC-PP26: Soul Resurfaced : The single story of a South African Female that found meaning through positive psychological coaching interventions

Parallel Papers Session 6
Sunday 2 July 10.00am-11.00 SAST - VENUE 2
This presentation is STREAMED: a live broadcast from the venue with no online interaction. Moderators may announce zoom 'chat' questions can be submitted. Please 'mute' your microphone in consideration of other online participants and the audio recording.

Soul Resurfaced : The single story of a South African Female that found meaning through positive psychological coaching interventions

Presenters: Dr. Rica Viljoen & Prof Adri Drotskie


This case tells the story of Josephine Dhladla, a woman whose life was humiliated, violently attacked, and threatened after unknowingly walking into the violent platinum miners’ strike in September 2012. Today, Dhladla serves as the first female mine manager of the platinum mine and the very miners who humiliated and almost killed her. Using life history as its methodology (Plummer, 2008) and the auto-ethnographic tales of Sparkes (2002), this case tells the story of Dhladla’s courage and forgiveness and how courage and forgiveness are manifested daily by Dhladla and others in multi-cultural settings. Through engaging with positive psychological theory, adult development theory and coaching, Josephine managed to renarrative her life HERstory. This paper is presented in five parts: (a) the research design that includes key concepts of courageous African leadership and the philosophy of Ubuntu, (b) the actual story (c) a brief description of the coaching interventions and the theoretical underpinning thereof, (d) the research findings of the case, and (e) its conclusions and implications for furthering organisational leadership theory and development.

Courageous African Leadership

Various authors underline the uniqueness of indigenous African leadership and the importance to elaborate on current leadership development frameworks to incorporate African wisdom (Mbigi, 2005; Nkomo, 2010; Van Rensberg, 2007; Vilakati, Schurink, & Viljoen, 2013). The lack of integration of contextual variables such as courage, forgiveness, humaneness, and systemic thinking into leadership frameworks are also clear (Broodryk, 2005; Mbigi, 2005; Mbiti, 1990; Vilakati, et al., 2013). Individualistic leadership development models are still at the order of the day (Forster, 2010; Vilakati, 2012). Van Rensburg (2007) describes the notable lack of African consciousness within organizations. All over Africa, oppressed populations attempt to address political, economic, and socio- cultural injustices of the past, as they also address the scientific imperialism that disintegrated their identity (Biko, 1978; Taylor, 1992, Vilakati, et al (2013)

The transition involves the reclamation, re-authoring, and remembering of traditional indigenous knowledge systems built on deep philosophy of relationships, courage, forgiveness, humaneness, and age-old wisdom. Tutu (1999) challenged post-apartheid South Africa to build a rainbow nation. This was echoed in the work of Beck (2013) who describes South Africa as the only country in the world that holds the different types of thinking that determines multi-culturalism spontaneously together. Vilakati et al. (2013) underlines that Africa as a continent is geographically sandwiched between the East and the West almost symbolically suggesting a cosmic place that integrates reality.

It may just be that a story of courage and forgiveness from this part of the world can assist others to acknowledge the rich contribution that an integration of local and global can hold.

Learning Objectives

Participant will be able to:

  1. Recognise the impact of trauma on leadership functioning
  2. Distinguish between different worldviews and ways to reframe trauma
  3. Apply techniques to support others in a similar manner
  4. Identify alternative ways of dealing adapting to changing life conditions


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Biographical Summary

Dr Rica Viljoen is a well-known Organisational Development specialist, researcher, sought-after international systems psychodynamic-facilitator and Jungian coach who specialises in Inclusivity and multiculturalism. She is associated with the Da Vinci Institute for Business Leadership, the International Jungian Coaching School. Rica founded Mandala Consulting, a niche organisational development house formed in 2003 that worked in 52 different countries. She developed the Benchmark of Engagement as a research approach to understand social dynamics in systems an approach is academically acknowledged as a way to build trust in large scale transformation for sustainability; especially post Mergers and Acquisitions. With the adaptation of a scholarly-scientific-practitioner organisational developmental approach, Rica continues to contribute to the publishing of case studies, international coaching, lecturing and consulting on organisational dynamics, culture, social system dynamics and multiculturalism. She supervised more than 90 PhD and Masters students. The Academy of Management acknowledged her work with an global award for one of the 10 best contributions to the field of study. Rica also received the Institute of People Management CEO award for her national and international contribution to her field (2017) and the South African Board of People Practices CEO award (2021) as an acknowledgment of her contribution towards the profession. Rica served, with honour, as the 13th and 14th South African Board of People Practices Board. Her life purpose is to tell untold stories and help leaders to find their voice. She is the co-chair of the ISPSO AM 2023; to be hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa.