The manager as coach: an overview of resilience

By Elisabeth Goodman, 27th September 2020

neither endurance nor unqualified positivity

Resilience is something of a buzzword at the present time, and yet there are some misunderstandings of what it is about.

As my Barefoot Coaching tutor, Diane Hanna (2020) reminded me in a recent group supervision session, it’s not about just gritting your teeth and enduring.  Nor is it about a mindless striving for positivity and happiness. 

Indeed, as author Susan David (2016) asserts, happiness or joy is only one of about seven basic emotions.  The other six are all variations of negative emotions, many of which are in fact more effective moods to support our awareness of what’s happening around us and for making effective decisions as a result!

For me, resilience is the ability to adapt, persevere and grow when things go wrong, through self-awareness and self-compassion.

Diane Hanna recommended Reivich and Shatté’s (2003) book “The Resilience Factor” for a definitive ‘how to’ overview of resilience, and I drew out some of my key insights from it as follows.

Interpretation of Reivich and Shatté’s (2003) The Resilience Factor – by Elisabeth Goodman

I’ll draw out a few of the principles and strategies in this blog but first just want to relate it to the workplace.

The relevance of resilience in the workplace

Reivich and Shatté (2003) have done some considerable research on the typical situations that arise in the workplace and I have adapted these slightly to put them in my own words and added a sixth.

  • Restructuring or other job loss
  • Having to do “more with less”
  • Work culture getting in your way
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Juggling work and home life
  • Issues at home affecting mindset in the workplace

As a manager or leader you may find yourself not only dealing with the impact of one of these on your own mood, but also needing to support members of your team experiencing any one of these too.

So how do you develop your resilience?

As with all things in life, it seems to be a combination of developing self-awareness and strategies to support yourself.

Welcome to the ABC (DEF) tool and mindfulness as a couple of ways to do this.

ABC – DEF

Our resilience is challenged when something happens – Reivich and Shatté (2003) call this an “Adversity” – the A of ABC.  Our brains being wired the way they are, this tends to trigger a “Consequence” (C): an immediate emotion and associated behaviour, which we might in calmer moments choose to say or do otherwise.

The trick is to tap into “B” – the beliefs or thoughts that are running through our brains – and hit a ‘pause’ button so that we can work through the DEF part of the strategy as shown in this illustration adapted from Barefoot Coaching (2020) set of tools.

Practise your ABCDEF – adapted from Barefoot Coaching (2020) set of tools – for use in RiverRhee’s training on resilience.

An individual can work with their manager, a coach, or someone else who would like to support them, to:

  • ‘play back’ the ‘ticker tape of thoughts’ that ran through their heads as a result of the triggering event,
  • what beliefs if any underpinned those thoughts
  • what might help them to dispute those beliefs
  • what new beliefs might serve them better
  • what new (hopefully positive) feelings these new beliefs might engender

Working on your resilience in this way is not an instant solution, although it has surprised me how it is sometimes possible to make significant progress through these steps in a 30-60 minute conversation.   

The approach is grounded in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, with an addition of Positive Psychology.

The original beliefs are ones that we are likely to have formed from childhood.  They served us well then, but might not be serving us so well now – so there is long-term value in exploring them.

We are also on a fine line here between coaching and counselling, so it’s important to recognise if we are connecting with something that an individual might prefer not to explore at this time, or benefit from more specialist help with.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about building our awareness of what is happening in the moment.  We may need to calm ourselves down in order to achieve that: give ourselves a bit of distance from our emotions, from where we can then refocus on our thoughts and beliefs. 

There are various tools for achieving that calmness, variations being concentrating on our breathing, tensing and relaxing each part of our body in turn, or visualising a restorative scene from a holiday or other positive experience.

Conclusion

I chose to write this blog as this is a topic that I am exploring at this time for my own personal development, as well as something that I am supporting my clients with through one-to-one coaching and in RiverRhee’s courses and workshops.

I particularly enjoyed learning about Reivich and Shatté’s (2003) concept of ‘reaching out’: how we can go beyond reacting to what is happening to us, by identifying what brings meaning to ourselves and connecting with others, nature, the universe.

How are you supporting your own and others’ resilience?

NOTES

References

Barefoot Coaching (2020) Tool Book

David, S. (2017) Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life. Penguin Books Ltd

Hanna, D. (2020) Barefoot Group Supervision 24th August 2020

Reivich, K. and Shatté, A. (2003) The Resilience Factor. Three River Press, New York

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis. 

She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to achieve authenticity and autonomy in the workplace by enhancing their management, interpersonal and communication skills, and their ability to deal with uncertainty and change.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

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