Coaching To Develop Mental Toughness – Being The CEO Of Yourself.

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So pleased to have co-authored an article published in The Australian Business Executive.

Here is the article in full, or you can view your full copy of the Australian Business Executive here on page 15.

The burgeoning trend of Executive Coaching in Australia is tapping in to previously unrecognised levels of personal development for business people. No longer must career-focused business people wait patiently for their opportunities to become executives. The trend taps into the new business need for mental toughness, an area of strength identified by psychologists who believes that it is no longer enough for business leaders to be merely resilient.

Mental toughness helps individuals focus on making things happen, without being distracted by their own or other peoples’ emotions. These individuals are generally more engaged, more positive and exhibit a “can do” attitude. Mental toughness can be measured using the MTQ48, a reliable psychometric tool which is quick and easy to complete and provides a profile of overall mental toughness, as well as providing scores for a number of other characteristics.

This is where Executive Coaching comes in, a process which helps executives focus on their own Executive Coaching Being the CEO of yourself.  Coaching is most successful when undertaken as a personal project and not necessarily as a business requirement. The best candidates are those looking for the next stage in career development, those willing to take charge of their own careers going forward. These kinds of people will benefit tremendously from a coaching setup in terms of personal development. It is now fairly common across Australia for CEOs to have a coach as part of their own personal development, but the growing trend is seeing people earlier in their career paths with aspirations to get to executive level engaging in some form of coaching. Many people at this stage in their development would once have been expected to wait until they reached a certain level before being offered coaching in a professional capacity by their company, but are now taking matters into their own hands. A coach can be equally useful for these people as they are for a Chief Executive. They will often act as a sounding board for ideas, to offer support in dealing with roadblocks and challenges and to help navigate the next career step.

First and foremost, Executive Coaching is not comparable to therapy, or a relationship where the coach tells the client how to go about doing things. It is more commonly an equally supportive and challenging relationship. In an Executive Coaching relationship, the client is the expert, not the coach. A coach will not know all the details of what a client needs to reach their particular goals, and is present only to offer support and expertise in helping those goals be achieved. Unlike a relationship with a therapist, the results from coaching can often happen very quickly. Most importantly, coaching is about looking forward to the future rather than assessing past failures.

An Executive Coach provides a confidential thinking space which can prove hugely beneficial to a client. It is usually the case that the more senior the client, the more benefit they gain from the process. This is often a response to the amount of time available for a coach to just listen, something which Executive Coaching is often a rare luxury for executives. In addition, the asking of questions helps clients mobilise their inner resources and solve their own problems.

The key is finding the perfect balance between support and challenge, nurturing clients to solve problems and meet goals whilst at the same time pushing them to better themselves in as many ways as possible. There are certain requirements one should be looking for in a coach that will help executives reach their maximum potential. Probably the most important is for someone with a strong track record in business. In addition, somebody who has an approach which is designed to support and guide rather than lecture and tell is essential. The best kind of coach will be there as a nurturing presence, encouraging others to find their own answers to problems. Equally, a good coach will be interested in collaborating with their clients, forming a partnership that will ultimately help executives build successful foundations to set them up for further career development.

The job of a coach is to work with people to establish a personal vision for themselves, developing goals and actions which will ultimately help flesh out and finally to deliver that vision. In the same way corporations spend time developing visions and working towards achieving them, prospective executives should look at themselves as being their own CEO, and work towards delivering the same success as a company would.

There is no doubt that Executive Coaching represents a huge investment of time. Results show that the investment put in is resoundingly worthwhile, with typically 5-7 times of the initial investment returned. It is little wonder then that many more people are choosing Executive Coaching as a way of forwarding their careers and fulfilling their business goals. The hope is that it will improve Australian business and the economy for future generations.

Want to know more about increasing leadership coaching and developing mental toughness? Send me an email at to enquire about coaching to build your self-confidence and your interpersonal confidence.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Wellbeing Strategist, Leadership and Wellbeing Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness Practitioner.  Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find her at or