Meet our Alumni

Dr. Sean Robinson

PhD, PCC, CAPPC, a Positive Leadership/Executive Coach (PLExC), former therapist, and University Professor in leadership studies

He works with managers, mid-level leaders, executives, and teams to amplify and enhance their performance with greater clarity, purpose, and passion.

Sean is a graduate of the IPPC’s Diploma program in Applied Positive Psychology Coaching and is a Certified Applied Positive Psychology Coach (CAPPC).

Sean Robinson

Q: Tell us briefly about yourself, your professional background, and what drew you to the IPPC’s applied positive psychology coaching program?

As a former therapist and now as both a faculty member in leadership studies and a leadership coach, the IPPC program was exactly what I was looking for to take my coaching to the next level.

I gravitated to the world of coaching in the mid-2000s from my experience as an athletic/strength coach, personal trainer, and health and wellness coach. I was briefly introduced to the ideas of positive psychology and its application to health and wellness. As I slowly moved away from more clinical practice and developed my professional coaching practice, the IPPC program gave me new tools and models for bringing positive psychology into both my work with clients and my teaching.


Q: What insights, change or transformation did you experience during the program, and how has it impacted you, your wellbeing, and coaching practice?

Going through IPPC’s program over a period of almost two years, my confidence in both my skills as a coach and my knowledge of positive psychology coaching grew significantly. One of the hallmarks of the program is the focus on evidence-based practices, drawing from research and literature that can have an impact on my clients. I gained a deeper understanding of various models, as well as language to offer my clients, which have been instrumental in how I approach my work. The IPPC program has allowed me to orient my work away from simply, “this is how one does coaching”, to “this is why coaching works, and here’s the evidence”.

As a former therapist and as a social scientist at heart, I understand the why behind the how, which is essential for me. Since graduating from the IPPC program, my leadership and executive coaching practice has continued to grow since I know that how I show up as a coach and how I work with my clients is having a meaningful impact.

Q: Describe your coaching practice today as a result of completing the IPPC’s applied positive psychology coaching program.

As a Positive Leadership/Executive Coach (PLExC), I work with managers, mid-level leaders, executives, and teams to amplify and enhance their performance with greater clarity, purpose, and passion. My practice and framework are oriented towards a strengths-based approach, enabling individuals, groups and organizations to enhance leadership skills and effectiveness, configure more productive teams, adapt to emerging challenges, and build commitment and cohesion.

As a PLExC I partner with my clients in a way that builds on the knowledge and wisdom they already possess, and then offer value-added and straightforward strategies and tools that they can put to use immediately to address their most pressing workplace challenges or personal career goals. My work with clients has focused on a range of areas, including leadership and communication skills, developing resilience and mindfulness, executive presence, building and managing relationships, and developing effective teams. A significant portion of my recent work has involved coaching aspiring and mid-level leaders into new leadership roles, working with them to define and develop the leadership capabilities necessary for success.

 Q: Please provide an example or case study of how you are uniquely expressing applied positive psychology coaching in your own practice?

Brian came to coaching to better understand how to build and lead a new team he has been hired to create for a relatively new start-up in the technology realm. He had never built a team from scratch, and this was his first time working in a fast-paced and fast-growing start-up company. Brian’s background was mainly in Marketing and PR, with social media as a recent addition to his portfolio, and his area and team were tasked with supporting the creative division of the company’s product line.

In his first eight months, he hired four new team members, with an additional four on the horizon. He found himself having to build the team, create systems and processes, and learn to work with other teams that also support a particular product line. His main concern revolved around creating sustainable collaborative relationships with other leaders and how best to communicate with those external leaders while also leading his new team. Recently, there had been a turnover in some of those team leaders, so he had to re-create external relationships constantly.

Several aspects of Brian’s case warranted taking a positive psychology coaching approach with him. For starters, understanding who the positive energizers were around him that he could draw upon for support and strength as he developed his own team and corresponding systems/processes was important. An additional area of focus revolved around creating positive communication systems when coordinating and collaborating with others outside of his team.

Using positive psychology coaching with Brian and his team directly was beneficial as they began to move from a working group to form their own internal team. Working with Brian’s team to create a culture of abundance was a way to extend his personal leadership practices; in addition, creating a culture of abundance built on the capabilities of all the team members, further developing opportunities for individuals and his team as a unit to work at their highest potential, exploring ways to flourish at work, experiencing elevated energy levels, and amplify their effectiveness as a team. Such a culture of abundance included creating readiness, overcoming resistance, articulating a vision, generating commitment, and fostering sustainability—all of these had been important work with Brian over our time together.

In considering how best to work with Brian, I engaged with him from a strengths-based perspective not only to start but also as a thread woven throughout the process. My work with Brian focused on hope, self-efficacy, resilience, and optimism, which all impacted his motivational propensity towards goal attainment and high performance. Pairing a psychological capital framework with the use of character strengths and values work provided further opportunities to consider how his personal strengths, values, and virtues contributed to the development of hope, self-efficacy, resilience, and optimism.

Coaching from a strengths-based perspective was helpful with Brian since research suggests that many leaders have little awareness or insight into their own strengths. Furthermore, using a strengths-based approach with Brian offered a benchmark to understand where he was in terms of effectively using strengths. In these areas, strengths might be underused or overused, thus providing a way to track progress over time. This approach gave us both a common language and framework to talk about how strengths are used, when, by whom, and under what contexts. 

Focusing on Brian’s strengths allowed a deeper exploration of how he could use those strengths in creating and sustaining the necessary relationships with those peers external to his team—those with whom he needed to collaborate to support the division’s goals and objectives. Capitalizing on his strengths also allowed for role shaping and structuring, whereby he was able to continue to build his team and craft his own role to capitalize on his own strengths while bringing others on to his team who could support those areas where his strengths were under-developed or under-utilized. Helping Brian consider how best to extend this same approach to the team members created opportunities for Brian to allocate roles, responsibilities, and tasks to individuals based on their strengths as he continued building his team.

Q: What advice do you have for other coaches interested in positive psychology coaching and the IPPC’s program?

As the Nike ads exclaim, “Just do it!” The IPPC program is a solidly designed program, built not just on being a better coach but on learning the science, theories, and frameworks behind what positive psychology coaching is and why it works.

The faculty are all extraordinary professionals who honestly practice what they preach. The program is oriented in such a way that each component feeds into the next, and there is enough overlap so that it feels seamless. The various assessments (papers and projects) really helped solidify my learning as well. The practicums were a fantastic way to practice the skills in a supportive, non-judgmental space. For anyone looking to take their own coaching to a different level, the Applied Positive Psychology Coaching program with IPPC is certainly a gem in the coach training space. 

The IPPC offers ICF-accredited, evidence-based, advanced training and business development leading to a diploma and designation as a Certified Applied Positive Psychology Coach (CAPPC). Get started here.