The brain has 100 billion neurons, which we call brain cells. The heart has about 40,000 neurons, and it can sense, feel, learn, and remember; it is your heart-brain. The gut has 100 million neurons in the intestines; it is often referred to as the gut-brain.
As a coach, I believe great work happens when clients are willing to access all three of these domains in coaching sessions to make sense of their leadership, challenges, wins, and career trajectory.
Based on years of coaching and deep listening, I can quickly pick up on the preferred orientation of a client. Some are clavicle-up and need some coaching to drop into the heart space. Others lead with emotion, and I may have to ask questions to help them think critically through the issues they face. Then there are those few who let the gut-check guide them even when there is contrary information that might suggest a different path. My coaching in this scenario is to help them become aware of the impact of their decision making.
There is never a domain that is always right or always wrong. Our hearts and brain have a dynamic relationship and can inform the other – they can also disagree. Often the gut is the deal-breaker when wrestling with decisions or a course of action. The important thing for a client is to pay attention to all three ways of sense-making to identify where their domains agree and where they conflict.
It also takes courage for a client to be coached in domains that are least preferred. Dealing with logic, emotion, and gut-checks are not always easy. Those who are willing to do this hard work are often the clients who grow the most.
In my previous posts in this series of how to be a good client, I reference the importance of reflection, sharing your story, and having an objective when working with a coach. When clients also show a willingness to stretch into different ways of knowing and making sense of themselves, significant work is accomplished. It is also true you do not need a coach to ask yourself three essential questions regularly.
What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What is my gut telling me?
Photos by Ansh Minchekar & Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash
In my first post, How to Work with a Leadership Coach, I covered two critical aspects of being a client. One is the willingness to tell your story, and the second is the willingness to reflect. These two fundamental tips apply to the entire coaching engagement and are essential to each conversation.
This post builds on that thinking by sharing how important it is to have an actual objective each time you meet with your coach. One of the biggest mistakes a client can make is not reflecting on what they want out of each session and instead relying on the coach to determine the agenda. This is not how coaching works. It is hard to coach a client who does not know what work they want to engage in or what conversations seem most important. Determining an objective is always the client’s work, and the coach’s job is to meet the client within that declared space.
Here are some objective setting tips:
These are just six ways for a client to determine objectives for each coaching conversation and get full value out of this vital form of leadership support. Within each of these examples is an invitation to share your story and reflect on what is most important. Your coach is always willing to work on any objective you say is important – take full advantage of this opportunity.
My next post on this topic will cover the importance of paying attention to the head, heart, and gut.
How clear are you on your objectives?
Carrie Arnold, PhD, MCC, BCC
In no particular order: Author | Dog mom to Moose | Speaker | Reader Mom to human offspring Wife | Lover of Learning Leadership coach & consultant, The Willow Group | Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation | Program Director for Evidence-Based Coaching at Fielding Graduate University