Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken a brief look at individual, team and systemic coaching. Today, I’d like to spend a little time on business coaching.
Business coaching focuses on helping business owners or managers get the best out of their business and their employees. As a Gestalt practitioner, I don’t assume the position of all-knowing expert, even though some of my business clients sometimes start with that assumption. Freud wouldn’t have had much difficulty in detecting what’s happening here (mainly because he discovered it): transference. When we find ourselves pre-emptively idealising someone else, it’s a sure sign that a more child-like part of ourselves is looking for a strong and reassuring parent figure.
However, business owners and successful managers aren’t children, and I’m not aiming to be a surrogate parent. Instead, I’m interested in what might be called collaborative facilitation: fostering the conditions in which new awareness can emerge. We seem to be hard-wired to attend to what we notice in our environments. Nevertheless, from a Gestalt point of view, this isn’t the whole of “reality”.
We don’t simply “see it as it is.” We actively construct our subjective understanding of what’s going on around us, even if we’re unaware of doing so. What we call “reality” is laden with our own presuppositions and assumptions, shaped by our near-unconscious embrace of conventions (“the way we do things around here”).
This is the distinction between what Gestaltists call “figure” and “ground.” We notice what we’ve come to recognise as figures, whether that’s a particular employee’s personality, an organisational process or protocol, or our own strengths and weaknesses. Gestalt re-inscribes the infinite field of “ground” back into our reckoning.
In business coaching, which I’ll say more about next time, I’m aiming to loosen the boundaries between “what is perceived” and “what is yet to be perceived” and make them more porous, enabling the construction of new perceptions.