Executive coaching is about asking questions and helping the client find their own resources. That said, there are as many coaching models as there are coaches and I owe my clients full transparency on my approach.
Understanding behaviors systemically helps my coachees build a bridge between their behaviours and the organisational context, and see behavioural issues as relations that need to be fixed, rather than individuals alone.
Having spent my early consulting years working with the organisational sociologist François Dupuy’s team, who had taught me to look for the rationale to unexplained behaviours in the wider organisational context, I was on familiar ground when I discovered the Systemic and Strategic Approach, which, at the psychological level, sees any given symptom as a cog in a system. Reciprocally, other members in the group maintain the symptom by their own interventions, thus maintaining the system’s stability.
The solution provided by the symptomatic behaviour might be painful, costly or inadequate to at least one member in the group, creating a dysfunctional balance. Nevertheless, all systems strive for stability: every time a member of the group steps away from routine behaviour, the whole group is disturbed and follows regulation processes to regain its initial stability. This phenomenon of homeostasis explains why change is so difficult and places resistance to change in a wider perspective than on the sole individual.
The human brain struggles to find new ways to solve the situation and tends to do more of the same, even when told or taught to do differently. Repeatedly attempting to solve a problem with the same inadequate solution, however logical and helpful it might be in other contexts, compounds the situation and “the solution becomes the problem.”. This is where my coaching takes place.
In corporate environments, most of the requests come through intermediaries and the coachee is not always asking for anything. This is one of the reasons for which systems thinking is as powerful in corporate environments as in family issues.
Unravelling who is asking for what :
When the latter is not accessible to coaching, there is always an alternative pathway to change through the former, if (s)he accepts to play a role in creating the solution to a problem (s)he doesn’t feel responsible for. This is, in my view, one of the most remarkable strengths of the Systemic and Strategic Approach.
Unlike the Psychodynamic Conflict Theory, stating that “ the unconscious material consciously available to the person experiencing symptoms likely to produce more complete and lasting changes for the individual than those that do not.” Watzlawick & al. describe their approach as “a search for pattern in the here and now rather than for symbolic meaning, past causes or motivation”. The first observation I share with these authors is that insight aboutwhy a phenomenon occurs doesn’t suffice to change it; the second is that change often happens without insight, through subtle changes in their worldview. It doesn’t mean I completely rule my clients’ past out of the discussion: I take it into account insofar as it shapes their present values, beliefs and behaviours.
Whereas the former designs specific change goals and strives to remove obstacles, the latter explores what happens for the coachee in the time and space of the session, that will help an unknown future to emerge. I have soon found it helpful to be able to choose between these two approaches according to my clients’ level of clarity and satisfaction with their goals.
The whole purpose of the first sessions of my coaching is to frame the problem or desired change in an interactional way. It helps listing attempted solutions, finding their underpinning pattern and starting to instill doubt into the clients’ mind about the validity of their regulation processes to reach their goals. Of course, instilling doubt about regulation processes implies that some unsuccessful attempts have been made, or that some action that should have been taken hasn’t been taken).
My visual interpretation of a case study presented in Boutan & Aubry's "Essaye encore!"
📆 Book a call
If you want to contact me, please book a call, or fill in the form below, I'll come back to you as soon as possible.