Welkom by Universiteit Stellenbosch

​​​Coaching for Leaders - COVID Edition

These are extraordinarily stressful times for all of us, most particularly for leaders who have so many considerations to juggle, and so many people looking to them for calm, clarity, and wisdom.  Many leaders are finding themselves the lightning rod or punching bag for the anxieties and frustrations of their staff, students and colleagues.  Individuals are being expected to provide Olympic level leadership, while simultaneously grappling with the anxieties and concerns of their own lives, and their own responses to the crisis.  All of us are in some way or other feeling de-skilled and overwhelmed. 

How the coaching programme can help:

Margaret Orr and Almene Potgieter are the University's fulltime leadership coaches, serving as a resource available to leaders and managers (post levels 1 - 7) to support their personal and professional effectiveness and resilience, and their ability to make a powerful and engaged contribution to the wellbeing of their teams and departments over this challenging period.

Here are some of the questions leaders are currently bringing to their coaching conversations:

  • How do I keep my staff focussed, motivated, and energised?
  • How do I manage my own anxieties, fears and concerns?
  • I'm feeling overwhelmed, and exhausted, and struggling to be productive.
  • How do I manage my own irritation with other people's irrationality?
  • How do I manage a team at a distance?
  • How do I balance positivity and forward-focus with empathy and concern for my staff?
  • Why are my staff behaving so erratically?
  • How do I show up as an authentic leader in this situation?
  • What are good coping strategies for me / for my team?
  • What are the big questions (life, mortality, legacy) that I need to be thinking about right now?  What really matters, after all?
  • What values do I want to honour in how I personally get through this / how I lead my department through this?

Note that coaching is distinct from mentoring, counselling, therapy, conflict resolution, and mediation, and should not be conflated with these, or used when one of the other forms of supportive intervention is more appropriate. Where we can, we will point you in the direction of alternative resources for yourself or members of your team where there are needs we are not equipped to meet.  Coaching is voluntary and entirely confidential, and the details of your conversations with your coach are shared with no one.

How it works

Over the period of lockdown and physical distancing, individuals can access the supportive space of a coaching conversation via Skype, Microsoft Teams, telephone call, or email.  Sessions are customised to the client's needs in terms of length and frequency – they may range from a 15-minute check-in, to a quick exploration of strategy via email, to a 30-minute venting space, or a 60-minute in-depth coaching conversation.   Coaching sessions are typically scheduled two to three weeks apart, but the frequency is designed and negotiated individually with each client, and adapted as circumstances change.

For more information or to set up an initial conversation, contact:

Margaret Orr

For senior and executive leadership levels 1-4, as well as Vice-Deans and Heads of Department / Department Chairs


Almene Potgieter 

For support staff managers / supervisors and other individual employees at levels 5-7