The Power of Coaching in a Time of Crisis

Coaching has gained both popularity and prominence within the world of business, and is now beginning to gain traction within education. Coaching, in its ‘purest’ form, can be defined as a dialogue between coach and coachee, where coach is focused on asking open questions and listening with intent, and coachee is focused on exploring ways to grow, both personally and professionally. Coaching is about setting goals to be held accountable to and raising one’s self-awareness to live a more aligned and values led life.

Two key reasons to introduce coaching within education are to support both students and staff, particularly in how to cope with change. Over the past five years, the Business School have trained over 40 staff in coaching and put thousands of students through our undergraduate coaching programmme, The BE Programme. The impact we have seen for staff and students has been incredible, and we are passionate that coaching has a crucial role to play in moments of change and crisis. Staff report feeling better equipped to connect with students and to be able to inspire learning. Students report feeling more confident, self-aware and connected to their peers.

Whether you are a trained coach or a complete novice, everyone can use coaching tools to support themselves progress; so here are just a few to help you navigate these very unusual and challenging times.

Ask Yourself Coaching Questions

A fundamental skill of coaching is to be able to ask open, simple and effective questions. For example ‘What is most important to you right now?’, ‘How would achieving X make you feel?’, ‘What has stopped you up until now?’, and ‘How else could you see this situation?’.

The wonderful thing about coaching is you can coach yourself. All you need to do is take a step back, ask yourself some coaching questions and give yourself the space to reflect. It is often surprising the insights you gain from such a simple activity and this power seems to be doubled, when you write these thoughts down.

Look Through a New Perspective

So often when we feel stuck, it is because we are rigidly holding onto a disempowering perspective. The thoughts ‘It’s not possible’, ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘There is no other way’ can feel real, but these are more than likely just limiting perspectives. Considering a new way around the issue or a different perspective can really help us get into new and inspired action.

To help shift your perspective you can ask yourself ‘What is a way around this?’, ‘What is another way of viewing this situation?’, ‘How can I make the most of this challenge?’, ‘What can I learn from what is happening?’

Changing the Internal Narrative

We all have an internal dialogue and often in times of uncertainty, it is the negative one that gets the most airtime. Recognising we all have that voice and realising it is not you, will mean you can begin to dial it down. Finding a mindfulness practice or a meditation can be a great way to slow things down, cultivate a sense of peace and connect you to the inner voice that is cheering you on. The negative voice often wants to keep you safe, however, it can also keep you stuck in your comfort zone.

It is more than normal, particularly in times like these, that we feel unsettled and nervous about the future. As humans, we are wired to seek certainty and avoid pain, so many of the reactions we experience are instinctive and are to keep us safe. Coaching give us the opportunity to acknowledge where we are, consider what it is we want in the future and then creates a structure to be able to map out the steps to get there.

By Faye Kilgour, Coaching Lead, School of Business, London South Bank University.

To find out more about the coaching programme and how coaching has transformed our Business School, please contact the author at

To learn more about the coaching experts, Graydin, who co-designed programme with, watch a video about The BE Programme here or visit their website.