A new way of coaching: how to reset your coachee’s operating system

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In order to facilitate real, lasting change, executive coaches need to understand what drives behaviour and create the right conditions for learning to occur.  

Executive coaching is no longer enough in today’s challenging, fast paced working environment. Issues like the threat of AI, economic volatility, overwhelming workloads, and gender divides means the workforce continually has to adapt to survive.

There is a preconceived notion that to create positive, measurable and sustainable change takes time, but this isn’t so. Change can and does happen in a moment if the coach is prepared to work at a deeper level, looking at the person beyond the surface and making the person who is being coached (the ‘coachee’) feel safe.  

Working with people at multiple levels (cellular, neural, emotional and behavioural) creates faster, more sustainable changes in mindset and behaviour, because it supports the ‘whole’ person.

By making changes at just a behavioural level and not a cellular one, then the body will naturally sabotage and hinder that change.

Coaching needs to delve deeper

Early childhood programming still unwittingly drives behaviour in the workplace. In many individuals their ‘operating system’ is outdated and a challenge to change because of what remains hidden within the individual’s unconscious mind.

Sigmund Freud (1915) used the analogy of an iceberg to describe the three levels of the mind – the conscious mind, the pre-conscious (thoughts and feelings that arise from the unconscious mind), and the unconscious mind (mental processes that are inaccessible to consciousness). Today, psychotherapists unanimously agree that the unconscious mind is the primary source of human behaviour.

In the workplace there is a tendency for coaches to focus on the tip of the iceberg that remains visible above the surface – the conscious mind. Effective coaching needs to challenge and consequently transform perceptions by delving under the waterline. Coaches need to be brave and skilful enough to work with tools that impact the unconscious mind.

For an individual to access their highest functioning state of being their cells need to be in growth mode and to do this, coaches need to use authentic charisma coaching techniques.

The unconscious mind absorbs vast amounts of information that is processed as a conscious perception.

The coachee’s perceptions of global challenges, their organisation, the workforce and their own capability often sabotages rather than supports the tip of the iceberg, affecting their overall performance.

It is only when individuals are encouraged to explore what is currently hidden, or as the Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung called it, ‘the shadow self,’ will they begin to expand their awareness and consequently grow and develop their capability.

Coaching must recognise the impact of cellular biology

There are approximately 39 – 70 trillion cells that are the building blocks of the human body. According to stem cell biologist, Bruce Lipton the operating mechanism of a cell is affected by human emotion.

Positive emotions cause the brain to release dopamine and oxytocin that ensure cells are healthy.

Negative emotions such as frustration, panic and anxiety release stress hormones and inflammatory agents called cortisol close the cell’s ability to grow, causing an individual’s cellular operating mechanism to go into survival mode.

Their mindset will be closed rather than open and their performance guarded, cautious and measured, driven by a primal need to protect rather than grow themselves.

Competence and capability is no longer enough. The coach has to be mindful of their own thoughts, their perceptions and their intentions.

For an individual to access their highest functioning state of being their cells need to be in growth mode and to do this, coaches need to use authentic charisma coaching techniques.

They need to make coachees feel safe by building high levels of rapport and operating from their heart centre. This will help individuals re-connect with their true authentic self and access the positive intention behind the messages being transmitted from the unconscious that will shift their awareness and raise their emotional spirit.

Use energetic release methods

Negative emotions are perceived as ‘wrong’ or ‘unhelpful’ so the individual buries these emotions without realising that emotional suppression affects their cells and blocks energy. Too much energy is used to bury things rather than to fuel performance and productivity.

Despite an array of emotional releasing techniques, many coaching toolkits, particularly in a corporate environment, are unable to release old negative emotions that no longer serve the individual.

Combining energy releasing methodology such as acupressure with breath work tools such as holotrophic breathing, will immediately change the coachee’s state of mind and creates the optimum conditions to enable high performance.

Create an emotional connection

When people become ‘emotionally overloaded’ they cope by shutting down the ‘felt’ sense, which hamstrings their own performance. People stop being heart-centric and revert to operating almost exclusively from their head.

Without an emotional connection, people are unable to access their gut instinct when making decisions and contain their own potential.

Coaches need to help coachees to connect with their true authentic self by asking the coachee how they feel rather than what they are thinking.

If you ask a question most people tend to respond from their head rather than from their heart. This shift in awareness deepens the individual’s awareness of who they are and what they want.

The impact of perception

People are, at their smallest, pulsating particles of energy. This means that the coach’s perception has a multi-level impact on self and others.

Without uttering a word, following a process or moving a muscle, what a coach is thinking is already affecting their coachee. A person’s perception and the judgment they ascribe to that perception instantly impacts on emotions, energy and cellular response in both parties.

Competence and capability is no longer enough. The coach has to be mindful of their own thoughts, their perceptions and their intentions.

When the coach’s energy is clear and holds a positive intent for the person, they perpetuate a safe environment for those around them, which creates the conditions for growth and expansion.

It is time for coaching to dive below the waterline. Coaches that support people at a cellular, neural, emotional as well as behavioural level will see positive, long term, sustainable change to the mindset and behaviour of their teams, equipping them with the skills and mentality to respond successfully to inevitable change and uncertainty.

Want to learn more about this topic? Read Six neuroscientific insights that can help improve learning performance

About Nikki Owen

Nikki Owen

Nikki Owen is an international expert, best-selling author and speaker on charismatic leadership. When she was 18 she experienced the charisma of a leader who transformed her life against the odds. This event compelled her to dedicate over 30 years to researching and studying charisma.  She has now taught thousands of business leaders her unique approach.

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