Coaching Wednesdays: Coaching for resilience

What is resilience?

Resilience is often described as the ability to bounce back after facing some difficulty.  Or getting back up when you fall. Recent research by Lawton Smith (2017) suggests that resilience is actually more than bounce-back from past events.  It also includes acceptance about the current reality whilst being able to envision the future.

There has been considerable attention paid to building resilience in workplaces.  This is not surprising as characteristics of resilient staff include being more adaptable, enjoying their job more and having a good work-life balance.  And as a result, resilient staff are more productive when at work.

If you are working with a coachee who would benefit from developing their resilience, then focusing attention on the following 4 areas can help your coachee achieve results.

Positive relationships 

  • Building positive relationships with colleagues and managers
  • Being able to ask for help when needed
  • Having a sense of belonging to your team
  • Positive relationships with friends and family outside of work


Knowledge and skills (high levels of competence in work roles)

  • It is important to develop competence levels within our job role
  • Being open to learning helps
  • Setting realistic goals for improvement


Building Emotional Intelligence

  • Understanding our own emotional triggers and being able to self-manage them
  • Understanding the impact our emotions have on others
  • Being prepared to see something from another perspective
  • Sense of humour


Taking a positive attitude

  • Being able to challenge own negative thoughts
  • Finding the learning opportunities in difficult situations and/or failure
  • Focus on accountability and responsibility
  • Avoid blaming others


Final thoughts 

Lawton Smith’s research (2017) also highlights the following barriers to building resilience that need to be discussed prior to embarking on a coaching for resilience programme with your coachee:

  1.  It takes high levels of energy to build resilience
  2.  If personal values are being compromised at work then coaching may be ineffective
  3. If the organisational culture leans towards workoverload then this needs to be addressed with the organisation first.



Lawton Smith C., (2017) Coaching for leadership resilience, an integrated approach, International Coaching Psychology Review




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