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Coaching and Development for Self-Awareness, Resilience, and Confidence

April 15, 2021

This article on coaching and development first appeared in October 2019 and was updated to reflect new information on coaching and development for resilience in April 2021. 

After years of providing coaching and development resources for companies all over the world to help develop skills and traits like self-awareness, resilience, and confidence, we know that as we move forward in 2021, coaching has never been more necessary than now and into the future.

Today, we know just how important these traits are and how crucial it is to have leaders who understand how to coach and develop employees who model these characteristics.

How do I coach for self-awareness? Gauge empathy. Approximately 20% of employers offer empathy training, which has increased significantly within the last decade.   Encourage mindfulness. Researchers are making direct connections between mindfulness and emotional intelligence, stating that emotional intelligence helps build attention and focus, which helps increase self-awareness and empathy. Consider compromise. Every decision requires flexibility and giving priority to the company’s well-being. It’s important to listen intently and understand each person’s needs before rendering a decision.

How do I coach for confidence? Resolve and file past mistakes. Confidence is difficult to coach for if the employee is experiencing anxiety over former issues. Create an authentic vision. Encourage the employee to visualize what they want the future to look like and help build a plan.  Address fear. What is the worst that could happen if they assert themselves and enact their authentic vision? Focus on gratitude. A gratitude journal is very effective in building a positive outlook.

 How do I develop resilience in employees? Start with self-motivation. Creating a resilient mindset is impossible if there is no motivation to work toward it.  Discuss what coping looks like. It may be different for everyone, but knowing what healthy coping mechanisms are and believing in the ability to activate them when needed is a big step in creating a resilient mindset.  Look for purpose or meaning. Coach the employee to find their purpose and the purpose or meaning behind their work.  Discover helpful and positive relationships. Each one models two things, healthy relationships and being of service to others, both of which create a more resilient mindset.

When I first started coaching, I focused mostly on helping individuals understand the results of some instrument. Whether it be a personality tool, 360 degree feedback, performance review, or leadership assessment, I was focused on helping those that I coached understand their strengths and developmental areas, and then eventually assist them in goal setting.

Deeper Dive into Coaching and Development Tools:

  • Personality tool: An objective assessment that accurately measures an individual’s personality characteristics and individual motivations to predict on-the-job behaviors and potential. The assessment data can be utilized throughout the employee lifecycle, including selection, development, promotion, team building, and succession planning.

  • 360-degree feedback: A 360 is a report showing the results of a survey. An individual is asked to fill out a self-rating questionnaire pertaining to various aspects of their work performance such as communication, problem-solving, relationship building, time management, etc. Then that individual’s manager, peers, staff members, and internal customers also fill out the same survey.  The result would be feedback from every angle (a 360-degree view) that could be parsed in different ways to gain an understanding of how the individual is perceived at work by the people within a sphere of influence. 

  • Performance review: Performance reviews allow managers to connect with their employees, provide feedback for a more detailed conversation, and critically and positively discuss their performance.

  • Leadership assessment: Designed to assess the personality traits of great leaders—such as a sense of urgency, openness to new ideas, and a desire to take risks. Evaluating leadership capabilities is every bit as important as analyzing sales territories and crafting compensation plans—arguably more so. 

These goals were almost always focused on developing a skill that would help them to be more effective going forward. Not a terrible approach – the individuals I coached had some degree of success, minus one or two who were forced into a coaching relationship they had no interest in (we have all been there). However, through my experiences I quickly began to see trends with those who seemed to benefit most from the coaching.

More specifically, I noticed that when coaching centered on increasing self-awareness, resilience, and confidence, there appeared to be bigger gains in performance at a more rapid pace. Of course, the focus was always slightly different based on the individual and their unique needs, but this trend was unmistakable.    

Deeper Dive into Coaching for:

  • Self-awareness: Leaders who demonstrate high self-awareness are able to understand where they struggle, how they can compensate, and what they learn along the way. Self-awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence. Being self-aware not only signals the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself but to extrapolate from this awareness to manage behavior and relationships.

  • Resilience: Caliper scientists define Resiliency/Ego-strength as the ability to handle setbacks, criticism, and rejection. Those who score high in this trait bounce back quickly from rejection and do not let failures control their self-confidence. This is one of the must-have ingredients of mental toughness and is a crucial component for success.

  • Confidence: Confidence is crucial for leaders in any setting. Feeling confident in the plans laid out before the team gives a leader more buy-in. The best coaches know each of the individuals they are working with and help them connect with themselves, giving them the confidence to lead with their unique styles.

It should come as no surprise that increasing self-awareness is essential. Not only is self-awareness the first step to behavior change, but most would argue that the entire coaching engagement is a means to increase the self-awareness of the individual. My own experience certainly reinforced this theory. Previously, I had not placed very much emphasis on resilience or confidence in my engagements, though. I assumed that if the coaching was successful those things would just happen naturally – and in some situations, they may. However, I found that placing an emphasis on them during each and every coaching conversation was essential in driving success. 

Here are the top 5 skills of effective leaders.

One example of this came up recently. I was engaged in a coaching conversation with a leader who was having issues with their boss and some decisions that were made (and not made). These issues were getting to the point that the leader was thinking about leaving the organization. If the leader didn’t leave, they would endure a miserable existence for the foreseeable future. Considering 72% of job seekers are driven by career advancement opportunities and cite it as the number one reason to change jobs, our goal was to get to the bottom of the issue before this company lost an important leader!

As is typical in coaching conversations my agenda was thrown out immediately and we worked the problem at hand.  Without getting into too many details, it was my opinion that the leader I was coaching simply needed a confidence boost which would allow them to have the conversation with their boss about what they needed. It was important for them to be confident, concise, and specific about next steps.

It is amazing what a little confidence can do to help you overcome what appears to be an insurmountable roadblock. As can sometimes be the case with situations like this, the roadblock was much smaller than originally anticipated. The boss got a clear message and acted on it. 

There are other takeaways from this simple story. Communication and not making assumptions are contenders. However, even with a communication plan, it can go sideways quickly without the confidence and calm demeanor needed during difficult conversations. Next time you plan for a coaching call think about integrating some activities and conversations that focus on increasing self-awareness, resilience, and confidence. The speed of the outcome might surprise you!

happy group at work

Paul Glatzhofer Paul Glatzhofer is the VP of Talent Solutions based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI Services LLC. He works primarily with organizations that are implementing global assessment and development systems at the leadership level. Paul’s work includes leadership development, leadership skills training, coaching, leadership and executive selection, turnover and ROI analysis, and ongoing feedback development.