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Rudi Kindts is an experienced senior executive and non-executive director, senior executive mentor and integral development coach. Having developed a rewarding career at Alcatel-Bell and British American Tobacco (FTSE top 10 company), where he was a member of the management board as group human resources director, Rudi now works as a mentor with Merryck & Co and has his own coaching practice TheCoachingHouse. Also a member of the community of practice at The Resilience Engine, Rudi talked to us about his experience of the Resilience Accreditation Programme.
You are an experienced senior executive and non-executive director, senior executive mentor and integral development coach with a human resources background at organisations including British American Tobacco. What led you to resilience coaching and the Resilience Accreditation programme?
I became very much interested in resilience coaching because I noticed some of my coaching clients were struggling in what is being referred to as a VUCA world. At the same time, I was looking for a novel approach of resilience coaching. I wasn’t happy with approaches that limited themselves to what I would call myths. Resilience coaching is not about ‘toughening up’, nor is it about the need to be ‘in control’. Another myth is the belief that increased efficiency leads to increased resilience.
I wanted to find a novel approach and looked into what was on offer in the market and felt attracted to the Resilience Accreditation Programme.
What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced doing the programme?
I did find that novel approach I was looking for.
First and foremost I am excited about how resilience is being defined; resilience as the development of a capacity to engage with change – personal change as well as how to impact and modify our environments in function of our own wellbeing and level of performance.
Another great positive is that the programme is a lot of different things.
Firstly, it is research and evidence based. Secondly, as referred to earlier, I am very much attracted to looking at resilience through the lens of building a capacity to engage with change constructively. Thirdly, the Resilience Dynamic® offers distinctive descriptions of the different levels of resilience, from breakdown to really thriving. So as such, the Resilience Dynamic® offers also a diagnostic.
In addition, the Resilience Engine®, offers tools of how to work with clients at those distinctive levels of resilience. Ultimately the Resilience Dynamic® is a framework in which your current coaching approaches/practices can be easily integrated.
One of the challenges for me was/is to engage with the ‘lower’ levels of resilience. It is about making the distinction between the ‘celebrated’ and ‘wounded’ self. Even clients at the ‘higher’ levels of resilience suffer at a certain stage or will become stuck. So the challenge for me was how to engage with the ‘lower’ levels of resilience.
Related to that is the challenge to adjust the coaching modality to where a client is on the Resilience Dynamic®. I am used to coaching executives who in general operate at the ‘higher’ levels of resilience. When clients are overwhelmed/struggling/stuck, this calls for a different approach.
What does your coaching model look like and how has this evolved to include a resilience focus?
The benefits of the Resilience Dynamic® is that it offers a framework in which I can easily integrate alternative coaching modalities. I am trained as an integral development coach and, for example, the distinction between horizontal and vertical development sits nicely with the Resilience Dynamic® philosophy. Integral Coaching is also about not leaving anything out. The Resilience Dynamic® in action also integrates the whole person: the head, the heart and the body.
Other models I use are Ego and Ego Relaxation. People often lose resilience because they often (unconsciously) feel that they fail to live up to the expectations of others and hence fear losing their ‘membership’. Building resilience through Ego Relaxation, is another lens which easily integrates. Neuroscience is another body of work that easily fits into how the Resilience Dynamic® operates in practice, when for example we work with clients on emotional regulation at the ‘lower’ levels of resilience.
Then there are systemic aspects too. It is not only a matter of working with clients on a personal level, often systemic influences are at play (see toxic working environments).
The programme can stand on its own and has a lot to offer. At the same time, I find it exciting to supplement the offer with additional lenses.
Looking back at doing the Resilience Accreditation Programme, what has been the lasting impact on you as a person and you as a people development professional?
As a person, the reframing of what resilience is, was important. I come from a senior executive background, where resilience was very much about the myths of resilience. Some of these were also messages from my upbringing where it was about being strong, manning up, being in control.
Reframing resilience as the quality of engaging with change and the link with wellbeing and performance was a great help.
I coach primarily CEOs, at C-suite level and direct reports to C-suite, where conversations about wellbeing and mental health are often taboo. The Resilience Dynamic® helps me to reframe these topics into an approach to resilience.
Another personal impact was the distinction between being and doing. I have the tendency to be a doer. Learning about being was easier said than done. The distinction has helped me with my own wellbeing.
I also learned a lot about the power of purpose and meaning and how this plays out on the road to the ‘higher’ levels of resilience.
As a coach, I learned a lot about coaching at the ‘lower’ levels of resilience. I learned more about empathy, pace and ‘a little bit better’, as opposed to going fast, and the traps of ‘thinking big’.
At TheCoachingHouse we typically work with CEOs, C-suites and cohorts that report into the C-suite. Not only do we offer one-on-one coaching, we also work with teams in a range of corporates, privately/founder owned companies, PE firms and charities.
We use resilience coaching explicitly as well as implicitly.
We often start by positioning the client’s presenting issue on the Resilience Dynamic®. When creating a coaching programme we happily introduce tools from the programme (Resilience Engine®), adjust them and /or complement them with alternative modalities.
What typically are the challenges or opportunities you have been asked to help clients with and what impact is the resilience coaching having on those you are working with?
First and foremost, transition; when clients transition into the C-suite level, or into a CEO role. These are big steps. Whilst transitioning, clients often feel that they are not good enough or suffer from imposter syndrome.
Another challenge is when clients are confronted with unrealistic expectations, often expressed in what is commonly known as ‘stretch’ targets. So, you have been promoted, you are now at C-suite level and you are being seen as the ‘saviour’. The ‘omnipotent’ CEO says we can do this, we are happy to have you on the team, you will make this all happen. The client is under huge pressure and starts to feel ‘incompetent’. A coaching programme may help the client to build resilience in order to initiate a conversation about these expectations and create a state of ‘relative potency’.
Another common challenge is to feel safe when standing in one’s own power and being able to influence the system.
Recently the work is also about burnout and clients coming to the conclusion that there is more to life than what they are currently experiencing. This often involves work around purpose and meaning which is the path towards ‘higher’ levels of resilience.
Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a resilience coaching situation that had an impact on you?
The situation is about a client who is on a fast track where her career is concerned. She recently received the feedback that, in order to enhance her career, it is going to be important for her to live up to how a senior executive should behave.
Our initial conversation had a big impact on me (memory lane) and we started talking about how to stay true to self whilst at the same time pursuing her career.
The Resilience Dynamic® informed us about how to take this presenting issues further. In fact she was referring to the intersection of ‘who am I?’ and ‘what is my purpose?’ – two important building blocks of resilience (learning about self in the context of purpose and meaning making).
Having established the answers to both questions it informed her about the trade offs she is willing to make.
As is the case in so many instances, the Resilience Dynamic® is often a great source in helping me to formulate a coaching issue and in providing the tools to work with clients.
What do you find most rewarding about your work as a coach?
I love co-creating with clients and witnessing their commitment to personal and professional development. Also witnessing the generosity with which clients lead their teams. Last but not least, witnessing the courage clients demonstrate in opening up to possibility whilst relaxing the image that they have learned to portray.
All of the above is related to resilience coaching and resonates with what the Resilience Dynamic® stand for.
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