The third type of Behavioral coaching concerns preparation for special events in the professional life of the client. A client may be preparing for a major presentation, interviewing for a new job, or facing a particularly difficult and stressful encounter with a critical stakeholder. The challenge may concern a licensing examination or mounting a major new project. There is an opportunity for success and long-term benefit for the client. There is also the opportunity that the outcome will be detrimental or even devastating for the client. Opportunity coaching typically involves three interrelated elements. First, the coach helps her client prepare substantively for the event. Second, the coach helps the client prepare emotionally for the event. Third, the coach helps her client design or at least influence the design of the setting in which the event will take place—so that this setting will be skilling rather than de-skilling.
An Overview of Coaching Strategy II: Decisional Coaching
We turn now to the three models that relate specifically to the decision-making (Decisional) processes in which the client engages. We focus on the decision-making process in a manner that is aligned with the way in which the “executive function” operates in the human brain. This executive function involves not just the so-called rational section of the brain (the prefrontal cortex), but also the so-called emotional section of the brain (the limbic system). As Johan Lehrer (2009) has so persuasively argued, effective decision-making inevitably involves the acknowledgement and integration of these seemingly contradictory and competing sections of the human brain. Given the powerful analyses of cortical and sub-cortical processes being offered by Lehrer and many of his colleagues in the cognitive and neurosciences, we propose that Decisional coaching is effective if it incorporates both the rational and irrational, the cognitive and affective, the thoughtful and the intuitive. Keeping this dynamic image of decision-making processes in mind, we turn to a brief description of three models of Decisional coaching that can be effectively used when a professional coach wishes to assist her client in making better decisions within a complex, unpredictable and turbulent organizational environment.
When engaged in reflective coaching, a Decisional coach “walks” with his colleague through job related dilemmas, helping his client identify and test out basic frames of reference and specific assumptions regarding his or her own ways of working with problems and issues. The reflective coach helps his client reframe, manage, live with or resolve the messes, paradoxes and paradigm shifts that inevitably confront contemporary leaders on a daily basis. When using a reflective coaching model, the Decisional coach also helps his colleague reflect on critical issues in her work life: when it is an appropriate time to disassemble things (chaos) and when is it better to keep things together (order). A Decisional coach assists his client to reflect on and learn about herself—her styles of interpersonal relationships, learning, leading, managing people, making decisions and managing conflict.
One’s client is the primary source of information for this model of coaching, so it is the least complex with regard to the need for resources or people other than the coach and client. It is the most demanding of the three models, however, with regard to the complexity of thought that is required for the client to benefit from this reflection.