From performance coaching to meaning coaching

This article explores the links between different models of human decoding, and offers an innovative vision of the coaching relationship.

The evolution of the demand for coaching is connected to the development of the person, especially in connection with the development of the adult. Thus, coaching acts as an upgrade of the software for exploiting the individual's way of thinking and decision-making and taking action, which makes it possible to have a vision to manage increasingly vast areas of complexity. 

Photo credit: A Grisard – Escher Museum The Hague

Stages of adult development

The first stage is the expert stage (13% of the adult population).

The person at this stage is looking for individual solutions to the problems they are facing. This is the typical stage of a person leaving higher education, who, for example, seeks to better manage his professional overload, to find a better personal balance between the different parts of his life. 

The second stage is the fulfillment stage (53% of the adult population).

The person integrates collective solutions. Its action is oriented towards collective strategic solutions, underpinned by logical reflection, it delegates, decenters, thinks of the collective as a third entity in its own right. An example of the transition from the expert stage to the fulfillment stage is that of a manager who, under increasing responsibilities, seeks solutions to better manage and manage all of his responsibilities, both professional and personal, by integrating the other parts of his relational systems.

The third stage is the pluralistic stage (26% of the adult population).

The person integrates subjectivity, his own grey areas, and has access to complexity beyond cause-and-effect relationships. For example a person who is able to work in introspection with subtle signals such as emotions, relationship energy, spaces of non-knowledge.

The fourth stage is the strategic stage (7% of the population).

The person integrates individual and systemic transformation, ethics takes precedence over results, he is aware of the emotional fields in systems, constantly evolving, in interconnections. And it integrates them. In addition, it creates its own reference system, combining different sources and experiences.

Adult development and coaching

How do these stages of development translate into a relationship, including a coaching relationship?

During the child's developmental stages, the relationship is impacted by primary attachment behavior (John Bowlby's theory). Later, in adulthood, relationships are therefore impregnated, especially the coaching relationship, in which the client has expectations of the coach.
The attachment relationship, if it went well in the first relationships of the individual, is a source of joy and security, if it has been threatened, a source of anxiety and anger, if it has been broken, a source of sorrow and depression
We find here respectively the instinctive governances of the state of calm, flight of struggle, then inhibition.

If the modalities of coaching are different from those of therapy, they are both tinged with attachment behaviors, since they are inherent in the relationship. Being aware of it and taking it into account is therefore essential.

Brain governance in the relationship

In the relationship, the emotional governances of each individual, whose function is to manage social relations, are in resonance, they mutually agree with the emotional states of the other, as in a dance where the step of one leads and influences that of the other, or as in the expression "to be on the same wavelength".

The development of emotional governance is influenced by attachment relationships, and then continues to evolve into adulthood. As for example in the expression of values or stereotypes.

It can therefore be a source of cognitive and behavioural change throughout life.

Relational interaction

Gestalt and social constructivism indicate that reality is created by interaction.

In a relationship – especially coaching – meaning is created in and through the relationship, subjectively, as well as in and through reciprocal influence.
It is by letting go of predictability and control – performance coaching – that something really new can emerge – meaning coaching.
This is a situation that becomes accessible when the coachee begins to visit the Accomplishedseur stadium. And that the coach works in the later stages Pluralist and Strategist, where he is able to deal with his gray areas and creative opportunities of confrontations or conflicts.
It is also a risk-taking that requires courage and the acceptance of non-mastery, since by definition, what emerges is unknown. 

The ability of the coach to explain the dynamics of the relationship and take this risk are essential in the process of co-creation in the interactions of the here and now. Like for example to admit not knowing, to be vulnerable, to be wrong…From communication – in the broad sense: words, gestures, energy … – emerge answers, which create the relationship in a spiral way, with the unconscious elements. It is from this emergence that authentic learning and changes are born for the coachee.

In collective

In an organization or system, we create and at the same time we are created by relationships. The combination of individual values and aprioris – emotional governance – relationships and communications – words, gestures, writings – co-create the rules and culture of the organization.
We are in the relational system, in constant interaction. By being both an actor of this system and acted by it. So interdependent. 

Systems that function in a healthy way have rules, which promote harmony between individual desires and needs and those of the system. Corporate culture can be mentioned as a manifestation of this.

With a fundamental thing which is that, from the system, and from complex situations that can be perceived as conflictual or chaotic, emerges what the system needs.

Upgrade – Building you capacity for complexity – Richard Boston, Karen EllisBill

CritchleySocognitive and Behavioral Approach – Jacques
FradinOrganizational Relationship Systems Coaching – CRR Global