Executive Coaching Article 6: Navigating Leadership Excellence in Mining through Reflective Learning


The mining industry is a crucible of challenges and opportunities, demanding leadership that thrives in complexity. As part of the journey to gain my Masters of Science in Business and Strategic Leadership at Cranfield University, I embarking on a voyage of personal and leadership development, including a substantial, and often very difficult, reflective learning journey. This practice was rooted in Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory, combined with other useful reflective practice frameworks. Most of the cohort found it very difficult at times, not only due to the application of the theory, although also due to the challenges of self-awareness, collective constructive feedback in an authentic way and challenging ourselves to dig deep in to what was really driving our own behaviours, Through its application, I honed self-awareness, catalysed my growth as an leader, coach and mentor, and embraced the art of guiding others on their reflective journeys. In the context of the mining sector, where dynamic leadership is pivotal, reflective learning serves as a beacon for navigating leadership brilliance.


Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning: A Reflective Odyssey 

Kolb’s theory, a cornerstone of modern reflective practice, is a journey of experiential learning. This transformative cycle, adaptable to diverse learning styles, facilitates the evolution of experience into knowledge. My personal preference for initiating the cycle with “doing,” actively experimenting and engaging in actions, has proven pivotal in attaining concrete experiences. These experiences form a foundation for subsequent stages, fostering reflection through qualitative and quantitative evaluation. The culmination involves gleaning insights, a process that aligns seamlessly with the mining sector’s quest for continuous improvement (Tomkins & Ulus, 2016).


Learning Styles: Tailoring Reflective Learning for Mining Coaches

Kolb’s theory emphasises the significance of understanding learning styles, a pivotal consideration for coaches in the mining industry. Recognising my inclination as an Accommodating learner—driven by action and instinct—has been invaluable. This self-awareness unveiled strengths and blind spots that shape my coaching approach. While the mining sector champions decisiveness, accommodating tendencies may risk overwhelming coachees. Acknowledging this, I’ve embarked on a dual journey, nurturing my strengths while cultivating sensitivity to diverse learning styles among my coachees.


Reflective Learning through Perspectives: Mining Leadership Transformed 

Perspective amplifies reflective learning’s potency. By scrutinising events from various angles—my own, coachees’, and external observers’—insight deepens. This multifaceted analysis converges in the “R” component of Passmore’s GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Will) coaching model, which I can touch on another time. Understanding the deep reality of an individual’s situation is integral to mining leadership’s evolution. Incorporating external feedback from coachees, observers, and supervisors enriches this process. In the mining sector, where the stakes are high, feedback becomes a compass guiding continuous refinement. As Ramos-Mejía et al. (2019) underscore, feedback loops foster transformation, fostering bottom-up sustainable development.


Developing Learning Plans: Elevating Mining Coaching

Reflective practice births insight, but growth hinges on actionable learning plans. Mining coaches, like miners in pursuit of precious resources, must diligently excavate knowledge, skills, practices, and behaviours for optimal performance enhancement. This journey often involves an array of research avenues, from literature to conferences, aligning with the industry’s dedication to learning and improvement. Just as mining operations hinge on meticulous planning, crafting learning objectives, timelines, and budgets for each facet of improvement ensures that reflective insights crystalize into tangible growth.



 As the mining sector’s landscape evolves, leadership metamorphoses into an ever-evolving crucible of complexity and opportunity. Reflective learning stands as the compass guiding mining executives, unlocking the potential to navigate challenges, harness opportunities, and cultivate transformative leadership. Kolb’s theory shapes this odyssey, an experience-to-knowledge transformation that mirrors the mining industry’s commitment to progress. By understanding learning styles, engaging diverse perspectives, and translating insights into actionable learning plans, reflective learning offers a powerful tool for refining mining leadership. In the crucible of mining’s dynamism, reflective learning illuminates the path to leadership brilliance, inspiring a new era of transformative mining leadership.


Ramos-Mejía, M., Jauregui-Becker, J. M., Koers-Stuiver, M., & Franco-Garcia, M.-L. (2019). Cycles of action and reflection as the basis of transformative innovation. Management Research Review42(1), 141–154.

Tomkins, L., & Ulus, E. (2016). ‘Oh, was that “experiential learning”?!’ Spaces, synergies and surprises with Kolb’s learning cycle. Management Learning47(2), 158–178.


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