The danger of ignoring your own Resilience as a coach

By Jenny Campbell|April 1, 2018|Resilience Coaching|

Resilience is your capacity for change.

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

Take Carol, a successful and high performing executive coach, who finds herself getting distracted.

Carol is a high performance coach, 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 effect Carol’s resilience, which is normally pretty high: life at home is under much more pressure than normal and Carol’s workload in the last year has been unusually high. She has realised she is really tired, and sometimes finding it difficult to keep the performance up.

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

Carol’s Resilience

Carol’s resilience is normally reasonably high, higher than Bounceback1 although not consistently at Breakthrough2. She is used to this, and to some extent has forgotten to notice her own capacity because she’s used to doing well. However, with a massive drain over several months on her capacity, her Adaptive Capacity3 is low. Signs are that she is tired, she is annoyed, she can’t see the wood from the trees, and her listening skills, critical to coaching, are dropping. She also finds it difficult to accept that her performance is dropping, and has instead ignored what is really going on.

That means Carol’s resilience is at Coping4 levels right now. In coping, someone is wanting to get back in control, resists any real change, and experiences high stress.

Carol could allow herself, within all the important demands that she has, to invest in herself. Simply figuring out how to rest well, how to sleep well, how to re-energise herself, and to ensure that as much as possible that she does has real meaning for her – rather than hold any ‘shoulds’.
Carol knows a lot about her resilience, but hasn’t yet figured out the conditions for her to be at a consistently high resilience, no matter the context. Learning is her key, but that will come only after her energy is replenished.

Resilience for Coaches

Catering for your resilience allows you to be more, get access to different perspectives more easily, trust your intuition much more, stabilise your energy, and be in the shoes of your clients (and not your own.)Resilience is a key enabler for coaches to perform at their best.

Knowing that resilience is dynamic, that is moves up and down, is hugely helpful. It’s not about persisting that your resilience is high; the persistence can lead to brittleness! Instead, it’s about recognising it goes up and down, the impact of this instability, and how to maintain it at a more stable state.

Investing in your resilience daily is a practice, and one that serves you and your clients well.
The Resilience Engine is ensuring that our ten years of research is being placed into the safe hands of coaches and Organisational Development consultants:

  • If you are a solo practitioner, go to the Resilience Engine Accreditation Programme via the Academy of Executive Coaching for more information.
  • If you have an internal bank of coaches interested in building resilience support capability for your organisation, please get in contact directly via The brochure can be found via our website.

Author: Jenny Campbell, CEO of The Resilience Engine

Footnote 1,2,4 Refer to different resilience levels or ‘resilience states’ from The Resilience Engine’s most used research model, The Resilience Dynamic®. This explains what resilience is, its dynamic nature and the implications of the different states.
Footnote 3.‘Adaptive Capacity’ is one of the core elements of the Resilience Engine ®, the Resilience Engine’s research model for how to build resilience.
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