The challenge is the more obvious. After all, neuro refers to neurological processes: the interaction between the nervous system and the brain. Immediately this raises questions for the more rational, logical business person; ‘how do you coach the brain?’ being the most common. This tends to be swiftly followed for those who know something about the cognitive sciences with, ‘how does neuro coaching work if the conscious self and emotions can so easily get in the way?’
The problem with these challenges is that if we don’t overcome them, we don’t get the opportunity to experience the benefits of a rapidly developing area of coaching for executives. When competitive advantage in business is so hard fought for – for the corporate entity within its markets, and the individual in their ambitions to progress their career – any positive differentiator is important.
Neuro coaching is the potential differentiator. This is not a hype/ snake oil salesman pitch. The name neuro coaching may provoke a reaction because of the associations people make and questions it raises in their minds. However, fundamentally neuro coaching is just a deeper level of coaching. One that takes into account our latest understanding of the human mind and how it works. Cognitive science is the study of thought, learning and mental organisation. Neuro coaching therefore focuses on removing you as a blocker to your own success.
Top 10 things you need to know about neuro coaching:
- Emotions are at the heart of it. Not ‘Lay back and tell me about your mother’ stuff. More ‘don’t let your emotions hijack you and constantly hold you to ransom’ stuff. It’s all based around the fact that we’re emotional creatures that developed a consciousness rather than conscious creatures that happen to be emotional. Be self aware and do better in business.
- Mindfulness is a tool that you need to learn to use. Drop the image of Buddhist monks and flowing robes. This is about you exercising your ‘muscle’ of focus and attention. At first you need to be challenged to look at the flow of your thoughts, emotions and habitual patterns of behaviour. Then you can start to do something about the things you want to change.
- Energy is a real thing. As well as exploring the impact of energy on motivation and willpower, you need to recognize that you’re not a machine. You’re a biological system that has inputs (food/ water/ and arguably sleep) that when converted are used for thinking as well as the more obvious physical activities. If you’re an inefficient thinker you’re going to cause yourself stress, run out of energy and fail a lot faster, particularly when you consider that the brain uses about 20% of the body’s energy (Scientific American)
- Your self knowledge is a never-ending goal. Knowing what you know, what you don’t know and what you need to know to perform well is vital. Without this ability to self assess and then act on your gaps you start to exist in an intellectual void. You have no compass or map to know where you are or what direction you should go in
- Learning lies on top of self knowledge. Awareness of your existing knowledge, skills and the gaps to optimal performance is insufficient. You have to learn and retain new knowledge and skills. Often coaching is seen as just unblocking or enabling in the moment. As well as increasing your intelligence, you need to learn new skills that enable your to be optimally effective in all levels of business effectiveness.
- With neuro coaching you’re working at a challenging level. You’re attempting to work with metacognition. Metacognition means ‘knowing about knowing’ – so you’re endeavouring to work on the cognitive processes you’re using to work on the cognitive processes. This has implications for how neuro coaching works with your time, attention and gets traction with you.
- Time and attention is exceptionally important. You are a very busy executive anyway; when you take it to account points 3 & 6 above, neuro coaching has to be as scientifically delivered as possible. This means that you need to consider what works best for you in terms for delivery methods, timings, spacing of interventions and stickiness of content.
- Traction in neuro coaching refers to the form and format of the interventions that are attempting to work on you as well as how they get your time and attention. You have to assess what has maximum impact for you. Some people need face to face with an individual on a bespoke, higher cost basis. Only in this way can they give their time and attention. The traction comes from the time slot. Other people want shorter, more frequent interventions via different methods like SMS, email or video.
- Coaching is about change. Neuro coaching is about working on the brains malleability and ‘rewiring’ or restructuring against the change objectives/ goals identified. The neuro coaching acts as a change agent, but this is about you changing. Success is when you start to think and act differently and achieve your goals.
- Self-efficacy is the measure of your own belief in your ability to execute tasks and reach goals. The higher your sense of self-efficacy, the greater your ability to do better in business because of increased self-belief. Neuro coaching is therefore empowering because it works on you to give you the tools to work on yourself and your own abilities. This empowerment increases your own belief.
The first step in engaging with neuro coaching is understanding and increased belief in its potential effectiveness. The second step is to get a sense of the value to be gained in improving your leadership skills. Try mapping your skill set to an ideal leadership skill set. The third step is to do something about it and close your gaps.