How neuroscience can impact coaching

I’ve just learned of a new coaching specialty that sounds like what I’ve been looking for as the line connecting my craniosacral (c/s) and coaching work. It’s called brain-based coaching and it combines learnings in neuroscience about how the brain works with the field of coaching.

Tonight in Jim Clarkson’s teleclass he announced to the group that he’s started a new SIG (special interest group) in the ICF (International Coach Federation) on brain-based coaching.

Try these links for: LISTSERVE BLOG


SIG Description:

This Special Interest Group (SIG) provides a platform for ICF member coaches to learn about discoveries in the neurosciences – how the brain works and how this understanding can inform the practice of coaching. Our process is aimed at developing an interdisciplinary, yet fundamentally brain-based perspective as a foundational science for evidence-based coaching.

The sig monthly get-together call is the 3rd Tues of each month, at 7pm EST. In March the call will have Marsha Reynolds … the past president of ICF.

Bridge line: 620 782 8200 250#

The topic — as I now understand — it is about the neurology of self-directed action. It uses what’s currently known about “re-wiring” the brain. It also sounds ENTIRELY like faciltitation (my other specialty).

I’m really excited by what I see as the potential to really combine these areas. It brings me back to what I started coaching for, anyway. In a few c/s sessions people had profound “awakenings” about changes they needed to make in their lives and they asked me to help them bring it into action. I had no mental model beyond dialogue (which actually is enough) and now I know much much more about that “enough”.

Let me chew on this for a while.

David Rock. Quiet Leadership. (book) intro
Jeffrey Schwartz neuropsychiatrist

Here’s NOTES from the Rock book podcast:
6 steps to transforming leadership
Q: How do you define leadership?
A: Define it by checking in with the lead-ees — are they engaged, passionate inspired do they love what they do?

Q: There are lots of diff styles/objectives of coaching. How would you define yours?
A: 10 ya started. pragmatic … study the process. Get people to coach each other and watch what went right/wrong. Seeing the coach working much harder than they needed to. SEE they were having a long conversation that didn’t need to happen. Could have been 5 minute conversation, but was an exhausting hour. Wasted resources: time, attention, energy. I felt challenged to work out the BEST way to have a conversation regardless of topic.

Q: How do you really help s’o get inspired?
A: Process helps the other people think about it, not telling them what to do.
networking topic: a lot of principles are like networking proceedure w/i associations.
paralleles with good parenting.
I’ve worked out a process map for a conversation. By watching those conversations 100’s of times.
I’ve observed conversations when they did/didn’t work.
Revelation: issues around employee dissatisfaction/retention. 6/10 workers are miserable 74% staff not engaged in their work.

Q: Can this method help?
A: Absolutely.

Q: What’s the connection between your work and Jim Collins work?
A: His level 5 leadership, with a sense of humility, has a strong link there… coaching is like servant leader, trying to help the other person succeed. We’re there to help them win. Most people at work would LIKE to be engaged.

When I go into an organization… people typically try to tell others what to do, following orders.

What happens when we think … make decisions, bring ideas ourselves?
FMRI when s’o has insight their brain lights up gammaband waves spike. It’s related to forming a new mental map. Reconnecting brain in a new way. Then they get this big birst … really jazzed, suddenly up and doiing it. In the workplace people aren’t having many of those moments. They typically are not allowed to have ideas and act on them. Not enough positive emotions. When today’s management models were developed product life cycles were 10 years. Not any more. We need to draw on change in the work place … any work that can be process mapped, that work is about to be computerized or outsourced. Left to roles that require insight.

Now people are paid to THINK. Leaders have learned to improve processes, like with 6 Sigma. But people aren’t learning to improve thinking. It’s different from a linear process. Quantum. Complex. Classic example: with a broken machine you analyze the problem and replace the broken part. But if a manager isn’t selling well, you can’t replace the part.

6 specific things re leadership:
1. thinking about thinking. thinking squared. focus on quality of people’s thinking leaving the details. if leader doesnt’ know as much about the details, need to help that person think better. step back from dramas, problems and help them think better. very difficult and incredibly helpful. takes a lot of deiscipline.
patterns in their thinking
thinking clearly
ID solutions alaredy had
what to pay more attention to
improve how they are thinking things through.

In book are dialogues illustrate this.
Keep from being confrontational. So many conversations take longer than necessary.

assumption: I know the answer, but can’t do it straight out. We’d have a debate of ideas. I’d argue back round and round in circles.
Put your agenda on the table up front.
right tiem
willing to have that conversation
put on table
ask the person how they can best do that.
not assume I know what the answer is.

2. Listen for potential. placebo isn’t just a wierd thing. When you think that you’ve been given the drug the brain does the same thing. Our expectations have a lot to do with our experience. If you’re listening for this, you’ll get it. If you are trying to transform performance, focus on people succeeding.

3. Speak with intent. When you’re trying to help someone else think you need to speak simply. We think at 800 words a minute. Help them feel safe and comfortable. Speak so they can realate. Be really careful. ex. take a meeting scheduled for an hour and cut it down to 15 minutes. (remarkable how often that works … in that pressure, they name objective, how can we best get to that objective, the real thinking may take 5-10 minutes). So often in meetings noone’s clear on the objective things are going around in circles. Model interesting vs. useful. IBM facilitators … identifying in a conversation, is it just interesting or really useful.

4. Dance toward insight. 1st 3 prepare you for this. ex. sales “you’re not selling well, let’s come up with how you can sell better”
WRONG process: I come up with answer and try to convince you of the answer. (homeostasis … you push back)
RIGHT: I guide you till you have insight. Maybe old, new … jazzed about. My role is to help you think through Discipline and process. END –> you’re clear and off and ready to do it. ME: can I check in with you and followup?

5. Create new thinking. This is linked with 4. Model about how you bring about insights. Current Reality Explore Alternatives Tap into the other person’s Energy. Not racing to solutions. but ID where their thinking is. How are you feeling now? How confident are you that you’ll create your results on your own? How can I best help you think all this through? Explore different paths. You’ll have some E about … You know, what I need is some deadlines. So I’d follow.

Q: overriding theme, as a leader you’re trying to pinpoint the areas that you can help a person reach their own decision, not make decision for them.
A: YEP! People want to make decisions, and have some say. If you see s’o’s brain on MRI. There’s energy going on there. Did some filming, there’s a change on their face. Eyes light up. Leaders are trained to do the thinking for people, provide authority. Unusual and takes re-learning. Most leaders have been trained to change process not people.
complaint: Lack of feeling appreciated and lack of feedback.

How much is the leader helping people to grow/develop? REal discipline for leader to step out of the details and help them think better.

6. Followup. Leadership and leaders don’t connect. Dont’ do it personally. STrategy and Business Magazine “leading from the brain” dr. Jeffrey Schwarz.
Where you focus you create more hard wiring. I wanna improve my diction. You have that thought, don’t do anything, but if pay that thought attention daily you’ll have big difference. Whatever you decide to focus on it produces literal changes in the brain. What of leadership?
We say … deadlines. We agree. Then noone does anything. But if I can get you to pay attention to that thought it becomes more hard-wired. You can remember when I said it, where I said it, what I was wearing. Really deepening the web that holds it all in place. Functional impact … because attention economy in the brain. Gotta pay attention to where to grow. REGULAR follow-up is what works.

Q: FOCUS is the key word I heard. Do ONE thing at a time. These are who are really successful.
A: yep. you need some quiet time and reflect before you have an insight that’s usefui. I don’t have a blackberry. I still think I need my downtime to process ideas. the focus of attention changes and sculpts the brain.

Q: when 2 people think too much alike they get in each other’s way.
A: 1 person on details, 1 on process. Leaders should allow the other to do the work. Help them notice
– pattern
– qualities
– improve the quality of their thinking

OK. I’ve got my adrenalin rush here.


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