Coaching for ‘psychological capital’ – Why it matters and how to do it

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Psychological Capital is defined as ‘an individual’s positive psychological state of development’, which is characterised by high levels of HERO — the four elements of Hope, (Self-) Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism.

Hope refers to persevering toward goals and when necessary, redirecting paths to goals in order to succeed.

Efficacy is to have confidence to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back and beyond to attain success even when beset by problems and adversity.

Optimism is making a positive attribution about succeeding now and in the future.
Having high psychological capital is positively related to performance, attitudinal, behavioural, and well-being outcomes at the individual, team, and organisational levels, as well as desirable organisational citizenship behaviours.

Psychological capital is actually needed more in today’s times to survive, grow and thrive.
During COVID and post COVID, leaders and professional coaches will be required to provide more support to their team members and clients. They can boost people’s psychological capital for achieving their goals and maintaining high well-being.

Coaches can raise their own as well as their clients’ psychological capital by enhancing the understanding around the four constructs of psychological capital, that is, hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism, and working towards the development of these constructs.

Enhancing hope

Coaches can help their clients in effective goal setting with an emphasis on contingency planning. Coaching questions around challenges in implementing the planned actions and thinking around alternative pathways can really raise the hope levels of clients.
Mental rehearsals of goals, proposed actions and pathways can boost hope and commitment. Exploration around resources and support required will also raise clients’ hope levels.

Enhancing (self-) efficacy

According to renowned psychologist, Dr Albert Bandura, setting smaller goals and experiencing success can really boost the efficacy of an individual. The conversation around setting small achievable goals can boost the confidence of the clients and move them forward.

Efficacy can be enhanced through learning by observing others. Coaches can support the clients by asking questions pertaining to the learning of clients from observing other relevant people who may have achieved goals in similar situations, or who may have possessed effective mental states in similar situations. Clients may be invited to plan observing relevant others’ successes, mistakes and failures. The technique of modelling relevant others is highly used in sports. Using humour and enhancing positive emotions in the conversations during coaching sessions can boost efficacy levels of the client.

Social persuasion and positive feedback also raise the confidence of people. Acknowledging clients’ efforts in the coaching session and appreciating them for their hard work, successes, and high self-awareness can boost their confidence. Exploration around persuasion from other relevant and significant people can help clients make strategies for receiving persuasion from those people.

Centring or calming the clients in the beginning of the coaching session and at appropriate moments during the session is also helpful in raising the efficacy levels of clients.

Enhancing resilience

Having positive and close relationships with other people is considered a prominent factor for boosting reliance in people. Exploration around having close and positive relationships with people in family, work and community can help clients make plans to boost their resilience.

Conversation between coach and client around distracters and prevention factors helps the client in bouncing back in case of derailment from the designed actions and agenda.
Exploration on resources and support required, and planning around that also boosts resilience levels.

Joining training programmes around new skills and having smaller groups for peer learning is a great tool to promote resilience.

Enhancing optimism

According to famous psychologist, Dr Martin Seligman, optimism is how we explain what happens in our lives. Optimism is an explanatory style that attributes positive events to personal, permanent and pervasive causes. It interprets negative events in terms of external, temporary and situation-specific factors.

The explanatory style has a strong association with what we achieve in future. In a coaching session, the coach may invite the client to explore the factors responsible for achieving success in past events. Exploration around how much credit the client would like to give to self and environment can also enhance clients’ awareness about their explanatory style. This awareness can give an opportunity to the clients to see the outcome and its causes from a different perspective and try to derive an alternative explanation to the outcome and factors responsible for the same.

Having conversations around positive aspects even in highly unfavourable situations or outcomes may also help clients boost their optimism.

Along with the above strategies, providing unconditional positive regard to the client will boost all four elements of psychological capital. According to Carl Rogers, the proponent of humanistic psychology, unconditional positive regard is the positive regard given without conditions or strings attached.

Due to the pandemic, coaches need to do this more than ever before. They need to show great confidence in the clients’ capabilities which will boost the clients’ psychological capital.

Being fully present, listening actively, and acknowledging clients’ work, awareness and talents may really help the clients build psychological resources and achieve their goals.

“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope” said Martin Luther King.

Professional coaching services can be found using ICF’s directory of credentialed coaches spread across India and the world

If you need support on your organisation’s and leader’s coaching journey, do contact us at ICF and our team of volunteers in India will be happy to help.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organisation leading the global advancement of the coaching profession and fostering coaching’s role as an integral part of a thriving society. Founded in 1995, its 39,000-plus members located in more than 145 countries and territories work towards common goals of enhancing awareness of coaching and upholding the integrity of the profession through lifelong learning and maintaining the highest ethical standards.

Through the work of its six unique family organisations, ICF empowers professional coaches, coaching clients, organisations, communities and the world through coaching. Visit coachingfederation.org for more information.

In India, ICF is represented by six vibrant chapters, all led by volunteers — ICF Bengaluru, ICF Chennai, ICF Delhi NCR, ICF Mumbai, ICF Pune and ICF Hyderabad.

The author, Badri Bajaj is a leading expert in emotional intelligence, leadership, coaching and well-being. He has 20+ years of experience in research/writing, teaching/training and coaching. He has conducted training for IT organisations, Henley Business School in the UK, NASSCOM, IIM Udaipur, Indian Navy, Mindful Leadership Summit, International Coaching Federation and many universities and schools. An ACC-credentialed coach by the ICF and an active member of the ICF Delhi NCR Chapter, he has published articles in reputed peer-reviewed journals and newspapers. He is a faculty member of the Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, Noida. His work on mindfulness, emotional intelligence and well-being has been featured in the media in many countries.

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