WHAT IS TRANSFORMATIONAL COACHING?
Transformational coaching enables coachees to create fundamental shifts in their capacity through transforming their way of thinking, feeling and behaving in relation to others. This is achieved through focusing on the shift that needs to happen live in the room so that a sustained change takes place, beyond the coaching session.To effect change with the client, the coach needs to be able to work on multiple levels at the same time (physical, psychological, emotional and purposive). The change in perspective has to be ’embodied’ (i.e. the coachee needs to be able to think, feel and do differently) for it to be truly transformational.
Recently, there has been tremendous progress in discovering more about the brain and, in particular, the importance of the limbic or mammalian brain. Neuroscience is indicating that fundamental change requires a shift in the patterns of relating that are embedded in the limbic brain as opposed to simply focusing on the cognitive aspects of the neocortex brain.
HOW DO WE CONDUCT TRANSFORMATIONAL COACHING?
We focus strongly on freeing the coachee’s ‘stuck’ perspective within the session, live in the room. This comes through a change in the coachee’s values and beliefs about the presenting issue. We achieve this shift by exploring at 4 levels, being1) The level of behavior or patterns of interaction.
- If the behaviors that create specific events show a familiar pattern the coach can help the coachee to understand, and then, if they wish, to transform these reactions so that they are not locked into repeating the same outcomes.
- Being clear what the repetitive behavior looks like brings some awareness as to what might be happening but, of itself, will not help to shift ‘stuck’ behaviors.
- When people constantly react in the same specific ways to similar triggers, they benefit from understanding what is driving these choices and what pushes these responses. Becoming aware of the feelings that fuel and drive these responses gives them the power to not repeat them.
Uncovering the underlying feelings that drive a reaction can create the change that the coachee wants. We cannot change the emotions we experience by focusing on these emotions. We can only change the emotions by asking ‘why?’
3) The level of values, beliefs & priorities
- To change feelings, we need to look at underlying values, because these generate the feelings that drive the behaviors that create the type of event we are trying to change. It is possible to uncover and articulate the story being told by the coachee when faced with specific events. For example, if I have not had a very distinguished academic history, when faced with ‘clever people’, I might tell myself ‘I need to constantly prove that I am as good as they are’. I might then come across as competitive and bombastic with colleagues and clients. These dysfunctional responses could hurt my credibility and that of my company.
- personal reality (‘I am hopeless at confronting powerful people’)
- strongly held values (‘I am only here to serve others’)
- guiding principles (‘being competitive with others is the worst kind of pride’).
- By uncovering the narrative at this level, the coachee can check whether it is simply a fossilized remain from a previous era in their life (e.g. a now dysfunctional response to the trauma of being humiliated publicly in adolescence for offering a strongly held opinion) or whether it has current validity. To shine a light on this aspect of the coachee’s beliefs, they can simply ask the question ‘What is the assumption I make about this sort of situation?’ If this question draws a blank, they can engage their creative faculties by asking ‘In order to have the feelings I have in this situation, what sort of assumptions would I need to be making?’