Coaching - An Ontological Approach
This is part of a series of blogs on different approaches to coaching
" Nothing changes without personal transformation. "
-- W. E. Deming
As an executive coach that has coached senior leaders in organizations over many years, I generally get asked about my approach to coaching- how do you coach? While I have an approach that I use, I often draw from various coaching approaches. In my next series of blogs, I will lay out these various approaches and give you my opinion on the approach
The Science of Being
The ontological coaching approach is grounded in philosophy. It is based on the concept of being, not the concept of mind.
Winograd and Flores integrated ideas of Heideggar, Maturana and Searle in 1986. This approach helps clients observe and shift aspects of sense of their way of being to increase their behavioral flexibility in the future.
Framework and Models
A major premise of the ontological coaching approach is that language generates reality. This approach also has some other fundamental premises:
· People exist in three interrelated domains of language, emotions & body
· Dynamic interplay shapes perception & behavior (equated to the structure of nervous system)
· How people view the world depends upon what matters deeply to them
· People interact with the world to take care of their problems
· Change occurs through the three domains being disturbed to generate new meaning
Building on the sense of being, ontological coaches focus on the postural habits and related muscle tension and believe changing these will bring about a change in the emotion and language domains.
For the domain of language, the coach listens to underlying concerns, basic linguistic acts, types of conversations etc. For the domain of emotion, the coach looks at which moods & emotions influence behavior and for the domain of body, this is where the change takes place. This change is measured by body posture and tone of voice.
While this approach could be used to help the client not with current problems that may drive a regular coaching relationship, but also to become more resilient and adaptable for the future.
However, many executives may be uncomfortable in the domain of body and emotions and it is easy for the coach or client to transcend boundaries based on the nature of the coaching process (making it important to set boundaries up front). A coach should be well aware of not only just this technique, but what it means to utilize it on the business world prior to proceeding.
Heidegger, M. (1962), Being and time. Trans. J. Macquarie and E. Robinson. San Francisco, CA: Harper.
Maturana, H. R., & Vaerela, F. (1980). Autpoeisis and cognition: The realization of the living. Dordrecht:Reidel Publishing.
Searle, J. R. (1979). Expression and meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Winograd, T., & Flores, F. (1986). Understanding computers and cognition. Reading, MA: Assison-Wesley.