A mindful approach to coaching can help leaders to focus in a frantic world, says Rosemary Moore-Fiander from Cirrus. 

In our age of complexity and uncertainty, many business leaders have adopted mindfulness techniques to help them focus on priorities in a positive way. When everything around us is moving quickly, we often become more reactive and less responsive. Many leaders already recognise the benefits of coaching to help them identify and achieve goals. A mindful approach to coaching can help us to concentrate on what’s really important and eliminate unnecessary clutter from our working lives.

There has been a surge of interest in neuroscience and how we can overcome the hardwired approaches to working life that may not always be helpful. For many leaders, an example of a hardwired approach is the desire to continually react to the challenges that surround us. This can stop leaders standing back and taking time for the strategic thought that every organisation needs.

Research shows that practising mindfulness can actually alter the way our brains work.  Repeated practice can redirect brain activity from the reactionary parts of the brain, where the limbic system is located, to the rational part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex.

The focus on ‘non-reactivity’ is central to more mindful coaching. It’s important that both coachee and coach approach each coaching session with an open mind and that both are psychologically ‘present’. The aim is to encourage open and reflective exploration. This creates space for creative thinking. In my experience as a coach, this often leads to unexpected benefits.

The best kind of open mind is a mind free of distraction. This enables the coachee to develop an enhanced sense of self-awareness. For me as a coach, an open mind enables me to give the person I’m coaching my absolute attention. I’m aware of everything happening in the moment, so can help to raise the awareness of the coachee, too. I can help to draw out the thoughts that may not always reach the surface.

As a mindful coach, I don’t react to these thoughts or ideas. Rather, I help guide the person I’m coaching towards new perspectives, and to connect to what’s most important, free of distractions. Although I’m describing a very calm process, it’s a process which many people find very invigorating. By freeing ourselves from the diversions of day-to-day working life, we can draw on a fresh source of energy.

Top Tips: Making the most of mindful coaching

  1. Approach the coaching session with a completely open mind.
  2. Prepare mindfully for your session. Use whatever techniques work best for you, such as taking a couple of minutes to pay attention to your breathing.
  3. Be positive. An optimistic outlook can unlock creativity.
  4. Be present. Give the coaching session your complete attention.
  5. Be conscious of all your thoughts. Don’t dismiss anything you’re feeling.
  6. Try not to be self-critical. Going easy on yourself can help develop empathy and your understanding of others.
  7. Don’t focus solely on pre-determined outcomes and goals. Mindful coaching can help you to identify things that are really important but may not previously have been prioritised.
  8. Your coach may suggest some mindfulness techniques to help keep you centred between coaching sessions. Give them a try – they can help you continue to develop the self-awareness and creativity unlocked during your coaching.

If you’d like to know more about mindful coaching, we’d love to talk to you. Please get in touch any time or leave a comment below. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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