Home Concepts Best Practices Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

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For instance, we now know that there are two functioning memory systems, one (the procedural brain) which operates when we are performing habitual behavior (such as operating the gas pedal and brake while driving a car), the other (the expository brain) which addresses new conditions (such as determining whether the person in the car next to us is going to turn into our lane) through reasoning, problem-solving, and learning. When we invite our clients to adopt a new pattern of behavior, we are asking them to perform a very difficult and stressful task—namely to move their cortical work from the procedural part of their brain which works easily and without much thought to the expository part of the brain that requires attention and exertion. Our personality style, leadership style and interpersonal styles are deeply embedded in the procedural brain and do not appreciate the interference of a coach who wants us to shift everything thing over to the expository brain, make some major changes, and engage these changes repeatedly for a rather lengthy period of time (until a new behavioral pattern is established which can then move over to the procedural brain).

The new biology of the brain also has shattered the old dualistic distinction between mind and body. We now know that our entire body is in some very important ways one large brain. We are making adjustments to our changing environment in all parts of our body and simultaneously engage and interweave our cortical (digital) system and our hormonal (analogic) system. Our mood and perspective each minute of our life is strongly influenced by our physical state—as influenced by such bodily factors as nutrition, physical exercise, amounts and quality of sleep, and levels of such chemicals as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, .

We now know that a critical role is played by the amygdala and other areas of the mid-brain in the assessment of new experiences (as to whether or not they pose a threat or an opportunity), as well as in the collection and organization of memories. It seems that our emotions are tightly interwoven with our retention of information, with our structuring and framing of this retained information, and with the retrieval (recognition or recall) of this information. As coaches, we must come to appreciate this close partnership between cognition and affect, as well as the bigger partnership between mind and body. As Michael Polanyi noted many years ago, we are always attending from our body to something else in our world, and this attentional base has a major impact on what we eventually see, feel and think.

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