In business coaching, I’m interested in cultivating the conditions for a new kind of attentiveness to what is happening in the here-and-now, noticing the elements we’d previously not seen because they form part of the taken-for-granted world: how we are relating to one another, to the world and to ourselves.
The aim is to expand awareness in all directions, rendering our unexamined presuppositions porous to new information, new experience. I don’t aim to tell business leaders what they should be doing; I aim instead to draw their own new ideas out of them.
In exploring how we gather information from the world with clients, I encourage an appreciation of what’s to the fore of our everyday awareness (our “figures”) and what’s in the background (the “ground”).
Let’s begin with what physiological needs are making themselves felt right now. Which areas of our bodies feel most alive, and which feel most de-energised? How well do people access support from one another and their physical surroundings in this organisation?
What have we formally learned from our social and cultural realities? What formal rules and roles have taken shape here? What exactly are “the way we do things around here?” Who holds power? What informal roles are tacitly pinned on one another (decision-maker, safe-pair-of-hands, wild card, etc.)?
No human organisation is free of emotional interpersonal dramas. Are parent-child-type family dynamics being unconsciously enacted here and, if so, between whom and to what end? I explore my own feelings continually in order to discern what role is being attributed to me (transference and countertransference).
How are our wishes and fears influencing our perceptions and actions? What business issues do we feel disinclined to discuss because they’re too anxiety provoking? Are processes of idealisation and denigration at work in organisational relationships here and, if so, can they be re-imagined?
Finally, can we learn to grow from what we earlier perceived as problems? Can we rethink them and use them as resources for future wisdom?