Business owners need to consider building resilience to tackle Covid challenges

Business leaders need to give more consideration to their own welfare and resilience to ensure that they are taking the best decisions not only for themselves but the organisation, a business coach has urged.

“I’m concerned that this has been exacerbated throughout the pandemic," Russell Harvey says.

Russell Harvey launched his Resilience Coach venture in 2015 after spending time at the Co-operative Group helping business leaders build resilience during turbulent periods.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “I am concerned that not enough business leaders are actually looking at themselves and asking for support for themselves.

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“They are probably doing a lot around supporting their staff but there is a bit of a gap with the owners of smaller businesses.”

Mr Harvey says that business leaders were often reluctant to seek help looking after their own welfare.

The Leeds-based coach added: “I’m concerned that this has been exacerbated throughout the pandemic.

“People are showing their resilience because we don’t know how resilient we are until we have to deal with something.

“They’re showing what they’ve got but every activity that they are doing to face immediate challenges actually drains their resilience levels.

“I always talk about building and maintaining your resilience levels. There’s a number of different ways that you can do that and it has to be a conscious choice.”

Mr Harvey also works with leaders across the public sector in education, the NHS and at councils.

The risk of business owners and leaders not considering their own wellbeing is that they could reach a “tipping point” without knowing it, says Mr Harvey.

He added that in resilience coaching there are three stages that a person can find themselves - stress, strain or stretch.

Stress is a person who might be “just about coping or might not be coping”. Strain is a person “hanging on”. While stretch can be a positive mode for a leader to be in according to Mr Harvey.

He said: “Stretch is that there’s a lot going on but you’re okay and some of it is actually quite exciting.

“Stretch is okay but then it’s about the rubber band snapping. The risk is if people aren’t thinking about themselves then they won’t necessarily be aware of where they are on that continuum.

“There will be a tipping point and there will be something innocuous that will send them over the edge.”

It could also have an adverse impact on the business itself, Mr Harvey says, with their capacity to make key decisions being “diminished”.

He added: “They might get stuck in the details. Business leaders are aware that they do have to straddle the bigger picture and detail. It’s understanding the team that they have got around them and whether that’s playing to its individual strengths.

“The risk is that their business could fall over because they’ll be trying to do everything or feel like they are trying to do everything.

“One of the risks of going into crisis mode is you inadvertently close yourself off.

“When you are being more resilient you are more open and more curious. You are able to take a step back from the challenges that you face and ask for operational help as well as ask for personal help.”

Attitudes are changing

Russell Harvey had his lightbulb moment for business coaching when he was in Hong Kong teaching.

He knew he didn’t want to be a teacher in classroom but enjoyed seeing people learn and develop so he went into business training.

Mr Harvey says that while more people are willing to seek help from personal development coaches there is still a long way to go in this country.

He said: “In the US it’s more of a cultural norm for people to be okay with talking to somebody.

“There is still a bit of a challenge around people seeing it as a deficit model. I’ve got a coach - there’s something wrong with me.”


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James Mitchinson