Resilient Leaders have the K.N.A.C.K.

You’ve taken the leadership training and read the books.  So why haven’t you implemented those things you were so jazzed about?  If it was easy, you’d have a perfect leadership score already.    FACT: Being really busy means you have less time/energy to implement new approaches.

Good news:  you don’t have to keep trying to do it on your own.  Pick a quality you want to express more of and join a peer mentor group with others who are also getting the K.N.A.C.K. of Resilient Leadership.


The K.N.A.C.K. of Resilient Leadership

K-   Knowledge of Human Nature

Resilient leaders must understand why smart people do irrational things, personality type differences and how to inspire, resolve conflict with and motivate them each differently.  Leaders today are simply expected to have solid knowledge of strategy and their industry, and gone are the days of ignoring the emotional side of team leadership.  Do you understand people well enough to give what your team needs from you to perform at their best?  Knowledge of Human Nature is quite learnable.

N-   Non-Reactive

Impulse control and self-management require self-awareness and stable confidence.  Resilient leaders act powerfully when needed and can be spontaneous,  but responses are not driven by their reptilian brain.  Reflexes are often grounded in past experiences and normal fear which may not serve well in an organisational context.  Becoming Non-Reactive is quite learnable.

A-   Action-Oriented

Resilient leaders know when to move fast to take action versus when the ideal action is to stop and reflect.  In either case, the action is chosen and purposeful.  Planning properly and attending to details are essential; worrying about perfection is not.  Does what you do with your time align with your true priorities?  Becoming Action-Oriented doing the right things is quite learnable.

C-   Courageous

Resilient Leaders have the guts to speak the truth and to face reality, be it about their own strengths or shortcomings, a past error, or a situation that is out of control.  Leading sometimes means re-kindling optimism or doing the unpopular thing, and having Intention Deficit Disorder does not serve leaders well.  When faced with a most difficult task, are you clear about the right thing to do so you can manifest your conviction?  Becoming courageous in a new way is quite learnable.

K-   Kindness

Being kind doesn’t mean being a doormat.  Sometimes the kindest thing one can do is to fire somebody.  Keeping a long-term perspective and transparently balancing the needs of all parties is key for Resilient Leaders to nurture trust and loyalty among team members and others.  We can’t give what we don’t have and Resilient Leaders understand that self-empathy is where it all begins.  Can you think of a person who deserves and may blossom with more empathy than you are presently providing?  Becoming more kind is quite learnable.


Know a leader who thinks they don’t have time to become more effective?  Offer them these questions which might help them see if it is worth their time to do something about it yet.


Resilient Leaders are more effective at motivating others when they have a sound grasp of human nature, self-management, take the right kinds of actions and show courage and kindness.    Are you presently giving those you work with the right balance of each?   Whether you are an effective leader (or not) is decided by those you lead, not by you!  So, ask them!

What is one small thing you can do differently starting today, which will make you a more resilient leader?

In your opinion, what else do resilient leaders need?

Coaching for Executive Resilience

Ever wondered what makes for a resilient leader?
What gets in the way of resilience?
Here is a webinar delivered to the Business Executive Leadership Coaches of India.
A.  What is resilience?
B.   Why aren’t we all resilient, all the time?
C.   Developing resilience

Click here, but please skip the first 1.5 minutes of silence.

Coaching for Executive Resilience

Business-Executive-Leadership-Expat-Career-Coaching @Bangalore*Chennai*Delhi*Hyderabad*Mumbai*Pune @US*UK*EU*UAE*SG*HK


Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and what your experiences are around developing resilience.

The challenge of embedding coaching skills in the workplace

Essential Elements of a

Successful Organisational Coaching Skills Program


Summary of an article by Grant and Hartley1 on practical strategies organisations can use to more effectively embed and sustain leadership coaching skills in the workplace following participation by executives and managers in a coaching skills development program.  This scorecard can assist in a go/no go decision on organisational readiness to implement a coaching skill program into the organisational culture and to prioritise factors that contribute to successful leadership development.


In Brief


Global HR leaders are increasingly delivering coaching skills programs in their professional development to facilitate the adoption of coaching competencies.  Research shows that coaching can increase goal attainment, solution-focused thinking, develop greater change readiness and leadership resilience (Grant 2009).  The authors worked with the fifth largest bank in the world (over 52,000 employees), where 3000 leaders completed the ‘Leader as Coach’ program.  The authors found eight key factors which increase the likelihood of successfully embedding coaching skills in the workplace.


The Need


Research has shown that while coaching skills are one of the more powerful leadership competencies, this vital skill comes naturally only to a few (Goleman, 2000).  Worker resilience must be strengthened to protect from burnout and to better handle relentless change and economic pressure to do ever more with less.  Gen Y and Z are demanding a new style of leadership and if their present organisation/manager won’t coach them, they will find somebody else who will.


With increasing demands being placed on workers, organisational leaders must become more competent at engaging, inspiring and listening to their talent than ever before.  A tool is needed to assist the HR decision maker to assess both if a coaching skills program has the required elements to realize a substantive shift in coaching competencies and to asses gaps in present organisational receptivity that can be redressed to assure the investment delivers on the expected changes in organisational culture.


All too often, organisations invest effort and money into developing the coaching skills of their leaders and managers only to find that, despite initial high levels of enthusiasm, they fail to adapt the taught coaching skills to their workplace.



How do we transfer skills mastered in the classroom into the workplace?


Such transfers are difficult enough with technical skills.  It’s even more challenging with highly personal thinking habits such as knowing when to challenge the coachee instead of telling the answer, how to re-create trust, or how to expose unspoken concerns or hopes for example.  Coaching skills are not superficial techniques which can be wedged into any conversation.  Students require time to integrate the skills seamlessly into their own style with repeated, live practice and patience from the organisational perspective.


The tips below are insights gained following completion of the Leader as Coach Program by over 3000 professionals in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).  The authors propose that organisational coaching skills programs will more effectively embed the competencies when as many as possible of the following eight factors are implemented.


1.         Proven, evidence-based design

‘Once-and-Done’ style single workshops, minimal hours of practice or where the teacher spends more time talking than the student spends practicing do not support integration of coaching behaviours as well as do longer-term mentoring, feedback and integration of the desired habits (Grant 2012).  The authors found the most success with programs which:

a) Are theoretically grounded and extremely practical

b) Use varied settings to diversify practice conditions

c) Provide cohesive group support ad follow up

d) Supply supervision as skills are progressively embedded

2.         Program content includes live skills, performance and developmental coaching

Formal coaching sessions with explicit goals and a clear beginning and end are rare compared to the more likely in-the-moment coaching opportunities seized in the midst of a busy project.  The program must also address the important distinctions between Skills Coaching (task), Performance Coaching (strategic approach to the work itself, over time), and Developmental Coaching (personal growth such as emotional/social competencies and effective relationships)

3.         Ensure that the program is internally culturally relevant

For a coaching program to be integrated, the authors found it should align explicitly with the specific values/language and unique situations and challenges faced in the client organisation.

4.         Use respected figures internal to the organisation as champions

The role modelling of desired behaviours by leaders is one of the most powerful influencers.  Enthusiastic and consistent messaging about the importance of the program from respected figures (such as the CEO) send a clear signal that the organisation is serious about developing a positive, supportive culture. The value of such overt high-level support cannot be understated.

5.         Use attraction rather than coercion

It is easy these days for people to justify not allocating the time needed for developmental activities. While the temptation is to mandate participation, the authors found that fostering attraction, rather than compelling attendance is a more successful strategy. Develop enthusiastic, influential early adopters in the initial stages and train them to carry their message and experiences to the workforce.

6.         Monitor and evaluate: the Personal Case Study approach

The Personal Case Study approach (Grant, 2013) has the participants write about a leadership issue they are facing, rate how close they are to their goal of solving it and their and level of confidence in dealing with the issue.  Participants re-rate themselves at the end providing data which will answer “Is the program actually working?”.  The authors found a 40% increase in goal progression and a 70% increase in confidence in being able to deal with the issue.

7.         Mobilise a competent HR team

Program success and longevity depend on the HR team’s professionalism and ability to champion this work. HR’s ability to manage the logistics of a complex program while keeping senior managers enthused are key factors in determining the successful implementation of a coaching program (Long, Ismail, & Amin, 2012).This is not an easy task and some organisations may not have the required HR capacity.

So how does one choose and implement a coaching skills program?


Like training for a marathon, strengthening coaching skills can’t be done in one workshop no matter how brilliantly it is designed.  While powerful when done right, accept that coaching skill acquisition will be a slow process (months, not a day or two) and that the outcomes must be followed up and measured.  Otherwise, to be blunt, it is a just another binder on the shelf and a waste of money.


Not all coaching programs can deliver (measured) results, and not all organisations are ready to embrace a leadership culture with a coach approach.  The processes listed in this scorecard normalise and deepen effective leadership competencies (coaching specifically), and strengthen connection, engagement and loyalty to the workplace.





If your organisation is considering a coaching skills program, here are some key factors that will each contribute to increasing the strength, penetration and durability of your program impact.  Each will assist to more effectively transfer the coaching skills from the classroom into workplace leadership activities and habits which drive a healthier, more cohesive and productive organisational culture.


Weak, or not executed = 1                               

  As strong as it can be  = 10

1 Proven, evidence-based coaching program design?Strengths/weaknesses?
2 Content includes skills, performance, and developmental coaching? Strengths/weaknesses?
3 Ensure the program is internally culturally relevant?Strengths/weaknesses?
4 Uses respected figures internal to the organisation as champions? Strengths/weaknesses?
5 Uses attraction rather than coercion? Strengths/weaknesses?
6 Monitors and evaluates: the Personal Case Study approach? Strengths/weaknesses?
7 Mobilises a competent HR team? Strengths/weaknesses?
8 Robust follow up processes? Strengths/weaknesses?





Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, March-April, 70 90.


Grant, A. M., Curtayne, L., & Burton, G. (2009). Executive coaching enhances goal attainment, resilience and workplace well-being: A randomised controlled study. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 396407. doi:10.1080/17439760902992456


Grant, A. M. (2012). Australian coaches’ views on coaching supervision: A study with implications for Australian coach education, training and practice. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 10(2), 1733. Retrieved from


Grant, A. M. (2013). Can research really inform coaching practice? Paper presented at the International Coach Federation conference, March 2013, Sydney, Australia.


Long, C. S., Ismail, W. K. W., & Amin, S. M. (2012). The role of change agent as mediator in the relationship between HR competencies and organizational performance. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24, 2019_2033. doi:10.1080/09585192.2012.725080



Sue : Inspiring excellence, purpose and learning through your courageous, resilient leadership. Providing individual and group leadership coaching leveraging neuroscience research, powerful accountability to your own objectives and the support of a team to more easily and efficiently attain your goals than on your own.

Resilience Pulse Check

Do you know how resilient you are?  We each develop our unique version of resilience from a blend of experiences and temperament. Try filling this out first from your own perspective, then from that of those who have seen you under stress and in uncontrolled circumstances.  They hold very potent information that help us learn and grow forward.  Maybe consider having those who know you fill this out for you!  But don’t stop there.  Decide on one area you would like to focus on, and find a learning partner who will be your guide on the side as you strengthen the courage and resilience that is in you.


Please tick the appropriate box.
 1= rarely true      5 = usually true 
1 2 3 4 5
  1.   In   a crisis or chaotic situation, I calm myself and focus on taking useful   actions.
  1.   I’m   usually optimistic. I see difficulties as temporary and expect to overcome   them.
  1.   I   can tolerate high levels of ambiguity and uncertainty about situations.
  1.   I   adapt quickly to new developments. I’m good at bouncing back from   difficulties.
  1.   I’m   playful. I find the humor in rough situations, and can laugh at myself.
  1.   I’m   able to recover emotionally from losses and setbacks.
  1.   I   am socially connected and have friends I can talk with.
  1.   I   can express my feelings to others and ask for help.
  1.   I   experience feelings of anger, loss and discouragement but they don’t last too   long.
  1. I feel self-confident, appreciate   myself and have a healthy concept of who I am.
  1. I ask questions and I like to try   new ways of doing things.
  1. I learn valuable lessons from my   experiences and from the experiences of others.
  1. I can use analytical logic, be   creative, or use practical common sense.
  1. I’m very flexible. I feel   comfortable with my paradoxical complexity.
  1. I “read” people well and   trust my intuition.
  1. I’m a good listener. I have good   empathy skills.
  1. I’m non-judgmental about others and   adapt to people’s different personality styles.
  1. I’m very durable. I hold up well   during tough times.
  1. I’ve been made stronger and better   by difficult experiences.

Adapted from and reprinted with permission. © Copyright 2005 Practical Psychology Press, adapted from Chapter 2 in The Resiliency Advantage (Berrett-Koehler) by Al Siebert, Ph.D., founder of All rights reserved.

Are you serving as a leader, or merely acting as one?

Are you serving as leader, or merely acting as one?  

Here are 10 elements to earning the right to lead

 So, do you walk the talk?

Ask yourself how those you lead would answer the following questions about you, from rarely (1) to almost always (10).  Better yet, ask them.  Then discuss it.  Nobody’s perfect, and the questions have nested, unspoken, moving parts to them.  They are designed to start deep conversations.  Not a quick fix it like patching a tire.


My boss:

  1. Builds trust, mutual consistent respect and support for the team. Inspires and motivates us. Can listen. Only interrupts when necessary.
  2. Communicates what’s right and what’s wrong about what’s happening, so that we know where we stand at work. No surprises. We can all answer where we are headed, why, how we are all going to get there and how I personally fit into the picture.
  3. Recognises our strengths and gives us the work we need to stretch us, and is happiest when we are successful and happy. Shows appreciation for kindness as well as performance.
  4. Asks how we think we might do it better and genuinely considers our ideas. Isn’t scared of looking ignorant.
  5. Admits mistakes and can say sorry, authentically. Makes it ok for us to admit our mistakes so that we bring them up sooner. Not fun, but we all learn from and benefit from getting onto a blooper fast, before it grows.
  6. Delivers. When a promise is made, it is treated very seriously. Like appointment times: each one is a promise. Models it, because it is part of being respectful.
  7. Has the guts to set limits and say no in a skilled and informative way which leaves the other’s dignity intact and with a satisfactory understanding of why.
  8. Is trustworthy. Integrity is still there, even when nobody is looking.
  9. Is emotionally resilient and stable and can handle feedback, good and bad. Is working on getting better.
  10. Is smart. Can spell. Stays fit and eats right.

What are your thoughts on leadership?


Inspired by Jack and Suzy Welch and Brent Beshore.