Zelda Burger

Executive, Leadership, Business and Team Coach

Based in Durban, Gillitts – virtual for the rest of the world

083 284 1601




Gillitts, Durban Metro, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Business experience

I am a qualified executive, leadership, business and team coach based in Gillitts, Durban since 2012, building on a corporate career in Johannesburg. My last corporate position was National Head Marketing and Communications for one of the big four accounting firms based in Johannesburg responsible for leading a team of professionals in Southern Africa. I have 25 years experience working in senior managerial positions in the private and public sector as well as in the consultancy space responsible for leadership development interventions for a variety of clients. I have worked extensively in change and transition environments within client companies and believe in the power of coaching in potentially enhancing individual performance and transforming an organisational culture.

Executive and business coaching experience

I established my leadership development consultancy in 2003 focusing on facilitating customised corporate leadership development programmes.  I have been exposed to various coaching methodologies and practices across a variety of leadership development consultancies and implementation in various industries. I have gained valuable broad based exposure which has enriched my paradigms, experience and knowledge in the coaching field.  I have formally practiced as an executive coach for the past 7 years and mostly coach executive and senior leaders locally and internationally. I also coach senior and high potential middle management in succession and talent pools for accelerated development for senior leadership roles.

Leadership development and coaching interventions across a variety of companies and industries include:

South African Breweries, RCL Foods, Imperial Tobacco, Mazars, African Marine Solutions, Unilever, Vopak, Vukani Group, PWC, Masthead (Pty) Ltd, Toyota, University of KZN (Extended Learning – coaching on Management Development Programme),  Hulamin, Steinweg, Transnet, Sappi, Buckman Africa, Umgeni Water, Ngubane and Partners inc, Mpumalanga Health Department, Dube Trade Port, Legal Aid, Correll, Savino Del Bene,  ABSA, Barclays Africa, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Business Connexion, Old Mutual, Sasol, Hyphen, Energy Cybernetics, AON, Schering Plough, Adcock Ingram, Premier Foods, Concor (Technicrete), Diners Club International, Jowell, Glynn & Marais (Corporate Lawyers), University of Johannesburg, Professional People Society, The Future Group, National Youth Development Agency, The South African Police Service and others.

Executive and business coaching specialist areas

  • Leadership development and effectiveness
  • Women Leadership development
  • Leadership influence, impact and relevance
  • Emotional intelligent leadership
  • Talent development and succession
  • Business confidence and self empowerment
  • Professional and personal fulfilment and potential optimisation
  • Performance improvement
  • Business development and growth
  • Career development, transitions and promotions
  • Any change or transition impacting personal and/or business effectiveness

Qualifications, credentialing and accreditation

I achieved a Masters Degree in Management Coaching (USB), a Masters Degree in Business Leadership (Unisa) and previously a Honours Degree in Communications Science (UOFS). I am qualified as an executive coach through Results Coaching Systems (Neuro-Leadership Group), which is accredited with the International Coach Federation (ICF). I am a COMENSA (Coaches, Mentors South Africa) credentialed practitioner and evaluator as well as a Transactional Analysis and Integrative Enneagram practitioner. I am accredited on the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) and Personal Values Profile (PVP), both HPCSA (Health Professions Counsel of South Africa) registered. I am also accredited as a brain-based learning and performance and emotional intelligence specialist (Neurolink-Interactive).

Executive and business coaching approach

The approach followed is cognitive-behavioural embedded in neuro-science, influenced by solutions focused, positive psychology and systemic coaching approaches. I have a structured process however remain conscience of the flexibility needed to accommodate the nature of the coaching objectives and the learning style of the client.  My approach as a coach is steered towards discovering each individual’s unique potential by working through a self discovery process with the individual in developing and enhancing these qualities towards achievement of coaching objectives.  I include behavioural assessments for increased self awareness at the outset and during the coaching journeys. Throughout the coaching journey there is a continuous, conscious focus on building new neurological wiring in the form of new behaviours towards achievement of coaching objectives.

The neuro-scientific approach supports the view that knowledge about one’s unique neurological wiring, can unleash unlimited potential and personal growth.  Self awareness and discovery during the coaching journey are important cornerstones of the development process.

The coaching structure

The coaching journey starts with a chemistry session before the first coaching session with the objective of determining the work style compatibility between coach and client.  The coaching approach and process are explored and all questions answered.  If both parties feel comfortable after this session, the coaching relationship is formalised in the form of an agreement. This is followed by behavioural assessments to assist the client in identifying strengths and development areas impacting their effectiveness in their current role. The assessments are analysed and discussed between the client and coach so as to assist the client with objective setting for the coaching journey. Objective setting is normally completed by the second session and shared with the line manager in the form of a three-way session. Systemic feedback in the form of team and one-to-one observations by the coach providing feedback to the client are also included in the coaching journey as all as receiving line manager feedback during the three-way sessions. Coaching sessions focus on developing strategies and monitoring actions executed by the client to build new neurological pathways. Throughout the coaching journey the impact on business (IOB) is assessed so as to track impact and results of the client s behaviour within the organisational context. A sustainability plan is designed for the client during the coaching journey in order to keep the newly formed habitual behaviours strong, to minimise the risk of regression. Sustainability plan is discussed during the last few sessions and included in the coaching journal report compiled by the client in collaboration with the coach.

5 key principles are used in coaching sessions:

Self Directed Learning: We all learn better when we find our own answers. The coaching process that will be followed is a process that helps people answer their own questions. The coach is there to forward the other person’s learning journey through a structured questioning approach, rather than by directing or advising. Solutions Focused: coaching is not about searching for the cause of the problem. It’s about searching for the best solution possible. It’s about setting your sights on where you want to be and systematically working towards this end, focused the whole time on solutions. Positive Feedback: Coaching is about providing positive reinforcement, not pointing out what people do wrong. Executive coaches are a rich source of encouragement and support that propels people’s confidence and performance. Stretch: People work at their best when they are challenged and stretched. The coaching model used delivers an appropriate degree of stretch to each person. Structure: As an executive coach, I apply a structured approach to producing change. I take time to be methodical, to get organised, and to set things up for maximum success. The executive coaching is delivered in a structured framework, working within a set series of coaching sessions, establishing clear and specific goals and running the coaching sessions according to a clear framework. The coaching is done over a minimum period of 6 months, and is often extended to a 12 month series.

Structure of a typical Coaching Journey: 

Contracting with Human Resources (sponsor), the Line manager and the client:
Expectations and outcomes for all stakeholders are contracted.


Chemistry session:
One hour. The purpose of this session is to create a sense of collaboration between the coach and client and to ensure that the client feels comfortable with the coaching approach to be followed. The work style compatibility of both parties is also determined.

Behavioural assessment:
One hour debriefing of the individual personal profile analysis (PPA)

Coaching commences:

Coaching session 1:
One and half hour – Objective setting conversation at the outset based on the goal alignment discussed between the client and the Line Manager.

Coaching session 2:
One and half hour – Objective exploration and clarification conversation. System feedback interviews to be agreed and pursued. Client starts populating the “coaching progress journal” after session 2 for the duration of 14 sessions.

Coaching session 3:
One and half hour – Three-way session between client, line manager and coach. Align coaching and business objective.

Coaching session 4-8:
One and half hour – Pursue goals through self directed learning and actions towards building new hard wired behavior. Systemic feedback.

Coaching session 9:
One and half hour – Three-way feedback on progress session with client, line manager and coach. Receive progress and systemic feedback.

Coaching session 10-12:
One and half hour – Re-align and pursue goals through self directed learning and actions towards building new hard wired behavior.

Coaching session 13:
One and half hour – Discussion of sustainability plan.

Coaching session 14:
One and half hour – Close out session and discussion of “coaching journal”. Line manager’s presence is optional.

The client in collaboration with the coach compiles the coaching journal report, which is populated from session 2 onwards and used as discussion document during the two three-way sessions. The coaching journal report is updated and sent to the line manager and as agreed with the client to one person at HR after each three-way session and at close-out of the coaching. The coaching is done over a minimum period of 6 months, and is often extended to a 12 month series. Coaching can be done face to face, virtually or telephonically. Individual coaching sessions are normally scheduled every two to three weeks. In between the coach has occasional telephonic and email contact with the client. A coaching agreement between the coach and client as well as the organisational sponsor will be signed before the commencement of the first coaching session. Confidentiality is contracted at the start of the coaching journey and forms the foundation of the relationship between coach and client.  

Tools and models used in executive and business coaching

I include assessments such as the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), Emotional Intelligence Assessment (TEIQ) and/or Personal Values Profile (PVP) as well as the Enneagram and/or Brain Profiling Assessment. Kolb’s learning style assessment and learning cycle provide a useful perspective on the individual’s learning preferences. 360 feedback assessments are insightful at the start of the coaching for objective setting and throughout the journey for progress tracking. Various coaching models and approaches are used depending on the client’s coaching need within a session: cognitive-behavioural, neuro-scienfic – SCARF, integral, solution-focused, Results Coaching – CREATE and GROW, various positive psychology approaches.

Monitoring of individual and organisational impact of my coaching

Throughout the coaching journey the impact on business (IOB) is assessed so as to track impact and results of the client’s behaviour within the organisational context. Achievement of goals is tracked against measures per goal set at the outset of the coaching journey.  The results from 360 feedback assessments conducted in frequent intervals during the coaching journey are valuable for tracking progress, deepening self awareness and setting new actions aligned to the client’s coaching goals. Continuous line manager feedback to the client on progress and development areas is crucial for keeping the client motivated and on track during the coaching journey. The coach also provides feedback based on systemic team and individual observations.

Supervision and continued learning

I believe in coaching supervision and being coached myself in order to self reflect and to harness my skills as coach. I attend coaching supervision and engage with a coaching network on regular basis exchanging knowledge and reflective dialogues for personal development. I attend COMENSA, ICF seminars and conferences for personal development. The purpose of the focused learning is to continue the development of the ICF coaching competencies on a practical level, and through role plays, peer reviews and supervision, significantly enhance my learning and personal development as coach. I believe in ongoing up-skilling and therefore pursue training programmes relevant to coaching on regular basis.

Executive and business coaching testimonials

  1. “I have been working with Zelda for four months to date, from November 2013, on my coaching journey. At the start of the journey Zelda described the coaching process and explained the relevance of goal areas. My selected goal areas were defined as building a greater self-awareness, developing the strengths of influence, delegation and decision making as well as getting a balance of being people and task driven. Zelda’s approach throughout the journey has been supportive, encouraging and inspirational. She has a great ability of leading a client to the actions they are meant to take rather than telling the client what to do. She is very knowledgeable and resourceful and provides excellent tools and literature to guide and assist the client in his/her development.The outcomes of the tools and literature provide were the insights in identifying my strengths and development areas. The PPA profile identified my dominant/conscientious profile and how the different profile characteristics can be used to my advantage and where certain behaviours would need a different approach. A leadership EQ exercise was also completed by colleagues, friends and family to get an understanding of how I am perceived in different situations and where my natural strength and growth areas are. The SCARF model and the DEFINER method, which Zelda shared with me, have also been used successfully in influencing in the work place and in resolving conflict. A summary of the impacts achieved through the coaching experience with Zelda is my improved effectiveness, performance and relationship building. I have received positive feedback from my colleagues with comments stating that a visible shift has been noticed over the last few months, that I move teams passionately forward and I am asset to their teams. I have also received an internal departmental award for a project conducted whilst on my coaching journey for the leadership shown in the project. Transparency and conflict management with colleagues and managers has shown good growth for relationship building and open and honest communication within our teams”.  Chemical Engineer, Manager in R&D, Unilever


  1. “I have worked with Zelda Burger since February 2013. My expectations in the beginning were those of doubt of the process and that my shortcomings would be exposed to my colleagues. I was rather surprised at the depth of the coaching process, and professionalism and confidentiality of the coach. This process has given me new insight and added value to my life both professionally and personally. Zelda is a good listener, has extreme patience and gives solid thought provoking advice. She has helped me acknowledge, utilise and develop my self-awareness positively. The coaching sessions are structured and tailor made to meet my individual goals that we had set together and although sometimes informal, Zelda is able to assess the mood and tone within minutes of starting the session. This may have led to us taking the scenic route to get to some outcomes; however we always got there within the required timeframe. Her ability to ask the right questions and channel my energy in the right direction has helped me answer and gain clarity on a lot of questions and issues that I was struggling with. There is huge benefit in individual coaching as opposed to group coaching”. Chemical Engineer – Unit Manager, Packaging Division, South African Breweries


  1. “Zelda was introduced to the SAB Packaging Management team in February 2013, an initiative to rebuild and refocus the team, as the team had undergone major changes in terms of movements in prior months. She has worked with all individuals on a One on One basis and also conducting team exercises to unearth “deep, underlying” issues and develop effective team dynamics. I have made great personal leaps in my current role and family life. Zelda highlighted strengths and opportunities and provided realistic actions to enhance performance or correct behaviors based on my profile insights. These actions were linked to tangible goals that were monitored and tracked during our sessions. Our direct reports were also interviewed to gauge if there were differences in behavior based on agreed actions. This was done constantly to ensure progress was ongoing and not just a “once off” activity. Zelda’s approach is friendly and caring yet goal driven and result orientated. She understands the stresses and challenges of the corporate environment and provides tools suited to handle difficult situations. My team now sees me as a leader and not a manager. I have empowered myself to empower them, through the coaching journey with Zelda. My team is now self-sufficient and self-driven. I would highly recommend Zelda to work with your organisation, as she is professional, friendly, well equipped with current trends and results driven. Mechanical Engineer – Unit Manager, Packaging Division, South African Breweries

Gillitts, Durban Metro, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa