More CEOs and top managers have a
coach or mentor than ever before, and corporations
want their managers to coach their employees as well as
supervise. A systemic coach can help people learn faster, retain focus, enhance
relationships and create sustainable results.
Systemic Coaching: Facilitating
change and development in human systems
Systems Theory: Theories about systems
and about human behavior in systems
Executive Coaching: Preparing executives to make effective
Executives in modern organizations must a constant and
rapid flow of information and use that information to effect change in the
organizations. Continual paradigm shifts, reorganization and reengineering
impact the executive's decisions - and employees' families, friends and
Executive coaching requires quality relationship skills.
As an executive coach, you must connect with both your clients and with
their organizations. The success of your executive coaching will reflect
the quality of your connection with and understanding of human systems.
You can provide safe environments in which executives can
explore the consequences of their decisions. After the goals are defined,
you can provoke change. You can help executives develop appropriate
beliefs and behavior; and later coach them to manage their relationship
You can coach executives to be receptive before
they consider change. Their motivation to change often comes from a
state of inner alignment, perhaps with a sense of urgency. Our effective
coaching minimizes stress and distractions, which can diminish both
performance and health.
Leaders continually demonstrate their management style, and
perhaps age. Old capitalism defined a leader as a commander, while the new
capitalism defines a leader as coach, mentor and facilitator.
Executive coaching differs from other forms of coaching.
Executive coaching focuses on prompt, measurable results. As an executive
coach, you need to work in ways that maximize results and show that they
are a result of your coaching.
During systemic diagnosis, you can assess the executive’s
systems. You may get more leverage by coaching your client to first change
some of their relationships or beliefs that reduce job performance.
You can also offer behaviors or beliefs that were effective in
other systems. Or you can help stabilize or a system which impacts other
systems. You can compensate for weakness, stress, or defects in one area by
coaching change in other areas.
Systemic coaching helps you coach executives to
organize and communicate, to track changes and measure results.
Inner & Outer Coaching
The relationships that most profoundly impact executives are
internal relationships with the emotional, cognitive self which
creates meaning and sustains purpose. If an executive lacks this inner
alignment, you can expect stress, distress and inner conflict.
Outer coaching must include inner coaching.
Classic Coaching & Systemic Coaching
In classic coaching, people are assumed to be
individuals, representing only themselves. In systemic coaching people are
assumed to represent their systems; reflecting the choices, emotions, culture,
and other systemic factors. If you see a person in isolation, you may
ignore important systemic dynamics.
In systems coaching, people are seen as actively interconnected
and influencing each other's ability to change. Many people are entangled
within their systems, within invisible borders that limit choice.
Awareness of entanglement - not as a linear cause-effect
but simultaneously - complicates decisions. Small
changes in one part of a system can precipitate significant changes in other
parts - although the connections between the two may be not be obvious.
Systemic behavior is complex. Coaching a human
system from the outside requires huge knowledge about the factors which
influence the members of a system. Coaching a system from the inside requires
that you join a system, as a guest, and then recognize and respond to systemic
Systemic Coaching & Coaching Models
You are a member of systems within systems within systems,
and you are influenced by, and you influence, all those systems. You influence
every system you impinge on and every system that that system impinges on
and so on. Systemic coaching helps you refine and focus your influence.
Coaching models vary greatly and can be distorted by the
coaches who use them. Each coach has different values and beliefs, prefers
different techniques and supports different consequences. A coach may
rationalize or ignore anything not accounted for within their preferred coaching models.
Coaching models based on systems theories are useful for
communicating and influencing descriptions of systemic dynamics. Systems
theories help a coach track and measure changes in systems.
As a systemic executive coach, you help executives achieve their goals by
managing their relationships. This requires more than changing isolated
behaviors. Conflict is likely if you and your client have different expectations
about the role and function of coaching.
Coaching . Quantum Thinking
. Transformation in Chaos
What is a System?
Some simple definitions of a system include, a set of
related units and a whole made of interdependent and interacting parts.
A system is considered to be greater then the aggregate of its parts as systems
(teams, families, businesses) can accomplish what individual parts cannot.
Human systems are defined by what members perceive to be
valuable, and how this value is communicated. As system values evolve in
predictable ways, executives can predict how the system's goals and the
relationships between members of human systems will change over time.
Open & Closed Systems
Open systems exchange energy (or information) with their
environments. Every organism is an open system, striving for homeostasis
with its environment. Members of open human systems usually welcome
beneficial exchanges of information.
of closed systems may limit or prevent this exchange of information.
As systemic coaching is an exchange of information, closed human systems
challenge coaching relationships. (Consider providing executive coaching
to the head of a monastery.) If you and your client want to be flexible
and adaptive, you may trespass system boundaries; or limit your options
to rigid “either/or” thinking.
No human system is totally closed, although some prisons
approach this limit. Rather, people are members of
interrelated systems in which a home and workplace are subsystems. As most
people are members of open, living systems; individual executive coaching is
embedded within systemic coaching.
Feedback occurs when information is received, processed and
transmitted. Information from human sense organs, perhaps amplified by
equipment, is given meaning and acted upon externally, internally, consciously
If you were an
executive in conflict with a coworker, or if you had to downsize a department by
20%. You may need to coaching around your interpretation and beliefs, e.g. is
the event a threat or an opportunity? Is it effective to fight, flight or
shutdown? Would it be more effective to dissociate your emotions? Should you
take it personally or is it only a function of your role?
Your ability to manage emotions directly correlates to your
success. This is an example of the relationship between your body-mind system
and your work system. You can balance yourself by moving
your attention from interfering emotions and thoughts into a more creative state
by eliciting the feelings such as love or joy. This can help you make better
Objective feedback about your state can help
you self-regulate and balance your life. Systemic coaching can help you improve
intelligence and effectiveness.
Living organisms, as
open systems, attempt homeostasis. Living systems follow rules, which are
checked using feedback, to maintain system integrity. If we coach you, we assess
your situation before coaching starts to understand your system dynamics. We
look at current transferences, triangulations and hidden agendas. For what
reasons do you or your system not want to change?
Coaching at the Edge of Chaos
The edge of chaos refers to a critical point of a
system, a phase change where tiny changes can precipitate abrupt chaos or
A system can be described
as being in one of three phases. A system in homeostasis may be called solid,
if the system is chaotic then it is may be called gaseous. Systems on the
edge of chaos have liquid characteristics, and can quickly shift to
solid or gaseous..
Are you unable to change (solid) or are you in chaos (gas).
Chaos coaching can help you get into
balance (liquid) and create a new identity appropriate to a rapidly
changing system. You can coach your client to increase an imbalance,
which the executive can then purposely bring back into balance.
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Martyn Carruthers 2006-2018
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