Why personal resilience matters as a coach

17th December by Jenny Campbell

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As an external or internal coach, does your personal resilience matter to your clients? Maybe you think it shouldn’t, especially if you are successful and consider yourself to be high-performing. You are always fully attentive and give your all to your clients. Right?

But if you ignore your personal resilience, your work as a coach will be affected.

The dangers of ignoring your resilience and wellbeing as a coach

Ignoring your own resilience and wellbeing as a coach can have a serious impact on both your client work, and your personal life. Take Carol; a high-performing, successful executive coach who has found herself getting distracted and struggling with her personal resilience and wellbeing.

How your resilience affects your coaching

Carol likes to be busy and works at her best when she is inspired by both her client work and her home life. Two things are going on that affect Carol’s normally high resilience level:

  • Life at home was under much more pressure than normal
  • Workload was unusually high

Carol realises she is exhausted and is sometimes finding it difficult to maintain her energy and high performance.

During a resilience coaching session, Carol notices how much a particular client isn’t responding to a key question that she knows is critical for them. Even at the end of the session, the client’s take-aways include nothing about this particular matter. Carol finds herself feeling annoyed. Then she finds she is annoyed at herself for being annoyed. She can’t shake off this feeling going into her next coaching sessions, and it further impacts her ability to listen.

The impacts of a low resilience level

Carol’s resilience is normally reasonably high, higher than Bounceback although not consistently at Breakthrough. To some extent, Carol forgets to notice her own capacity because she is so used to doing well. However, with a massive drain over several months on her capacity, her Adaptive Capacity is low. Adaptive Capacity is a core element of the Resilience Engine® model for how to build personal resilience.

Carol started to notice the warning signs of low Adaptive Capacity:

  • Feeling tired and easily irritable
  • Lacking perspective
  • Weakened listening skills (which are critical to coaching!)

She finds it difficult to accept that her performance is dropping and has found herself ignoring what is really going on.

That means Carol’s resilience level is at Coping, which is when someone wants to get back in control, resists any real change, and experiences high stress levels.

Carol could allow herself, within all the important demands that she has, to invest in herself. By figuring out how to rest well and sleep well, how to re-energise herself, and how to ensure that the things she does have real meaning for her rather than holding any ‘should dos’, Carol can boost her personal resilience.

Carol knows a lot about her own resilience but hasn’t yet figured out the conditions for her to be at a consistently high resilience level, no matter the context. Learning is the key for Carol, but learning can only come after her energy is replenished.

How to build your personal resilience as a coach

Resilience is a key enabler for coaches to perform at their best.

Knowing that resilience is dynamic is hugely helpful. Don’t persist that your resilience level is constantly high, this can lead to brittleness! Instead, recognise that your personal resilience goes up and down, understand the impact of this instability and learn how to maintain your resilience at a more stable state.

Investing in your resilience daily is a practice, and one that serves you and your clients well.

Five benefits of building your personal resilience and wellbeing as a coach:

  • Be more present
  • Gain access to different perspectives more easily
  • Trust your intuition more
  • Stabilise your energy
  • Be more able to put yourself in the shoes of your clients (and not your own)

As a coach, you have seen that resilience is a powerful tool to unlock healthy high performance for both you and your clients. Each year, the Resilience Dynamic equips professional and internal coaches with a research-backed framework and tools for building resilience through our Resilience Accreditation Programme.