Content: Neuroscience and coaching, change, leadership and behavior, coaching, neuroscience of leadership executive coaching and leadership coaching, neuroscience and leadership
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       Certified Master Coach Course - Some Introductory Notes: 
     
Why Most Executive and leadership Coaching Initiatives Do Not Work!
 
         -Why is it so hard to change our thinking habits? ©

           (includes extracts from the text book 'Behavioral Coaching' by Zeus and Skiffington -published and copyrighted by McGraw-Hill, New York)

- Why is change so painful?
- Why doesn't the carrot or stick approach work very well?
- Why doesn't persuasion work in the way leaders / managers / supervisors typically practice it?
 

So, just why is it so hard to change?
-Because it's human nature to resist change!
 
Mastering the ability to change isn't just a crucial strategy for organizations. It's a necessity for health. And it's possibly the one thing that's most worth learning.
 
Today, most professional change-agents understand that change doesn’t just happen by a 'Manager as Coach' using the traditional carrot and stick approach and promising to reward people with money or to penalise them if they fail. And, it doesn’t happen even when we tell people that if they don’t change, they’re going to die. In a recent Fast Company magazine feature article it was reported that Dr. Edward Miller, the Dean of Johns Hopkins Medical School calculated that every year over 600,000 people in the U.S. who have coronary bypass surgery are told they need to stop smoking, start walking, eat less, eat right and cut down on alcohol. However, only 10% of those 600,000 people are able to sustain the lifestyle changes necessary to avoid another heart attack. If 90% of coronary bypass patients can’t change their actions to save their lives, what does that mean about our ability to change ourselves or other people?

Changing executive and leadership behavior (what we do or say) is the most important challenge for businesses trying to compete in a turbulent world, says John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor.: "The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people." As individuals, we may want to change our own styles of work -- how we coach subordinates, for example. Yet more often than not, we can't. "

We only have to look at the failed weight loss programs or unused gym equipment in the homes around us. It is a fact that most people actually lose motivation to change before they really even get started.
 
Using “facts” to convince a person to change also rarely works.
What needs to change is the frame in which those facts are being evaluated. In order to change someone's frames, you need to be able to evoke positive experiences. Getting people to exchange one mind frame for another is tough even when you're coaching one-on-one, and it's especially hard to do for large groups of people. Reframing alone isn't enough, of course.

An interesting study recently found that by focusing attention on something - a particular problem or process -will cause a person to develop new neural connections which if reinforced enough will become part of their subconscious. If a person just focuses on a "problem", he or she will start developing new connections (also known as reasons) for why the problem occurs. This however will do little to support the process of change. That also means that the "carrot and stick" approach to changing people's behavior is flawed, as it focuses on the person's attention to the problems that are causing the unwanted behavior rather than on solutions for change.

Another consequence of this finding is that people who are specialists in certain fields -eg; sales, finance, engineering etc. -tend to develop brain connections to handle their job with the least amount of energy possible. This simply means that a person in accounting and an engineer have their brains wired differently. It follows that they will not see the world the same way, even if they share some similar world views! Hence the case for a personalized approach to coaching by a coach who has first-hand experience in the specialist workplace he/she is working in.

The power of attention is a central key to understanding change.
Our brains are reshaped by what we frequently think about. People's expectations of what they experience can impact their experiences - eg; the placebo effect. Insights are personal and necessary. Being told is not the same as discovering it yourself. The brain pushes back when told what to do. This is attributed to homeostasis, the movement of organisms toward equilibrium and away from change. On the other hand, brains will release an adrenaline-like rush of neurotransmitters when people figure out how to solve a problem themselves rather than being told how to solve it by others.
 
Employees need to be guided by specially trained coaches how to develop new mental models themselves through insight. They need to experience the "ah ha" moment so they connect the dots. A recent study found that if the brain has a "moment of insight" coming from within (arriving at a solution/conclusion by yourself), that moment is associated with a sudden adrenaline-like burst of high energy that is conducive to creating new links (change) in the brain. So, as coaches, if we want to instil change, we need to focus people on solutions instead of problems, let them come to their own answers, and keep them focused on their insights.

Just as importantly, the motivation to change has to come from within.
No amount of bribing or bullying or "being reasoned with" by others will be enough to successfully steer you towards a healthier life. Yes, support from others is important, but you are the only one who can make the decision to change.

Discomfort is a big motivator.
Much of what inspires and motivates a person is extreme discomfort.  People typically choose to make a change only when they can no longer stand the pain or discomfort. Then they have to take steps to make changes in their lives.

Brain and Behavior are the same thing.
Among the most significant developments of the twentieth century is the recognition that aspects of human behavior and experience are actually functions of a material structure, the nervous system. Nothing effects behavior directly except for the brain. However, because we allow the environment to affect the brain, our behavior can be indirectly affected by the environment. The mind is also incorporated into the brain. Also associated with the brain there is our "sense of spirit" and "sense of humour" which affects how we act.

Behavioral Neuroscience provides us the hidden keys. (Behavioral Neuroscience covers a range of relevant, proven biological and neural sciences and is concerned with the study of behavior and the brain and nervous system -and should not be confused with NLP ).
The new field of Neuroscience has now disproved the belief that the brain is "hardwired" early in life and can't change later on. Now researchers inform us that the brain's ability to change -its "plasticity" -is lifelong. So, if we can change, then why don't we?

Every person has thousands of habits -such as how to use a pen, throw a ball -that have driven fixed wiring/changes in the brain. For example, an experienced executive has powers that a young manager doesn't have -eg; specialized skills and abilities. A successful leader with specialist skills, although extremely valuable for any organization, is difficult to create. Furthermore, there is an inherent ‘rigidity' in specialization. Professional coaches are well aware that the cumulative weight of a person's experience actually makes it harder for them to change.

How then, as coaches, can we overcome these factors? The first key is ensuring that the brain's machinery is geared for learning. "When you're young, almost everything you do is behavior-based learning -it's an incredibly powerful, plastic period," says Professor Merzenich of the University of California. "What happens that becomes stultifying is you stop learning and you stop the machinery, so it starts dying." Unless you work on it, brain fitness often begins declining at around age 30 for men, a bit later for women. "People mistake being active for continuous learning," Merzenich says. "The machinery is only activated by learning. Many people think they're leading an interesting life when they really haven't learned anything in 20 or 30 years."

It follows, that leaders and executives require their organization to develop "a business strategy for continuous mental rejuvenation and new learning," he says. Ideally, he states, every executive should have deliberately constructed new challenges to manage. For every individual, there must be personalized new learning. Innovation, enhanced performance, increased well-being comes about when people are enabled to use their full brains and intelligence instead of being put in boxes and controlled, Merzenich adds. 

However, there is a strong force at work in the brain that resists change and new learning. The brain is very much wired to detect "errors" in its environment -perceived differences between expectations and actuality. When an error is detected, it triggers the fear circuitry in the most primitive part of our brain and this basically hijacks our thinking and causes us to react emotionally.

Brain Hard-Wiring.
Trying to change a routine behavior sends out strong messages in the brain that something is not right. These messages can readily overpower rational thought. It takes a strong will to push past such mental activity. Even with the best possible intention, a coach who is trying to change a person’s behavior without being trained in the use of appropriate psychologically-based change tools, can cause the individual great discomfort. Our brain sends out powerful messages that something is wrong, and the capacity for higher thought is decreased. Change itself thus amplifies stress and discomfort, and managers or coaches tend to underestimate the challenges inherent in implementing change. So when a coach tries to change someone's behavior their brain will start sending powerful messages that something is wrong, thus decreasing their capacity for higher thought. Change results in discomfort and stress.

Behavioral change happens mostly by engaging people's emotions -their feelings. 
In highly successful change efforts, coaches can find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions (not to be confused with 'emotional intelligence'), not just thought. Unfortunately, that kind of emotional persuasion isn't taught in business schools, and it doesn't come naturally to management who pride themselves on disciplined, analytical thinking.

Let's look again at the case of heart patients. The best minds at Johns Hopkins didn't at first know how to get people to change. Now it is well-understood that a change-agent must go beyond the facts. Coaches also need to know how to bring in the psychological, emotional, and spiritual dimensions that are so often ignored.

Supporting Change through multifaceted Support.
People need a sense of confidence that their changes will be aligned with the people and processes around them. This is where some coaching culture efforts fail. Even when a change program starts at the top (which it must), it can easily wither somewhere in the middle. That's why most corporations engaged in instigating a coaching culture hold "alignment coaching workshops" that ask middle and line managers -the people who make processes work -to better understand the nature and benefits of coaching and to outline the ways its systems could inhibit the coaching agenda for change.

Some of the above listed new techniques and insights into the nature of change may seem paradoxical or irrational. Hence the further need for coaches to be specially trained how to best understand and apply the new knowledge to their best advantage.

Recent breakthroughs in the behavioral sciences can help managers and coaches influence more effective change.
Although current knowledge does not completely make coaching a science, we suggest that many of the recent studies on organizational and personal change can be drawn upon to make the art and craft of professional coaching far more productive and lasting.

There's compelling science behind the psychology of change -as it draws on important discoveries from the behavioral sciences and the emerging field of neuroscience. To be effective in today's demanding workplace, coaches now require new insights and skills that up-end conventional thinking about human potential and the process of change. Psychology and recent advances in neuroscience hold some of the missing keys to accomplishing this goal.

Is applying recent findings of the behavioral sciences another demand in the professional coach's job description? No! -However, knowing the essential facts about the brain and the psychology of change provides critical knowledge for coaches how to best design their coaching programs and facilitate the task of change rather than add to its burden.


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Content: neuroscience of leadership coaching, change behavior, manage behavior, neuroscience and coaching, business coaching, executive coaching, managers coaching, neuroscience of leadership change program, coaching, change program, change, behavior, change leadership thinking, change habits, neuroscience and coaching, change, leadership and behavior, coaching, neuroscience of leadership executive coaching and leadership coaching, neuroscience and leadership change behavior, coaching and emotions, neuroscience of leadership, change thinking, change habits, change motivation, behavioral change, coaching, change motivation, executive coaching and business coaching, change, leadership and neuroscience coaching research, neuroscience of leadership change behavior, manage behavior, coaching, neuroscience and coaching in the workplace, neuroscience of leadership business coaching, executive coaching, managers, change habits, change, neuroscience of leadership