Mindfulness and Mindful Coaching

Mindfulness and Mindful Coaching

Elif Baykal
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0058-3.ch005
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Effecting mental processes and shaping individual frameworks in perceiving present situation, mindfulness is a processes-oriented state of mind that can be considered as the capacity to be in the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. That is to say, it is a state of not being obsessed with preconceived assumptions, past experiences, and current anxieties. With the help of mindfulness, individuals learn how to direct and hold the focus of their attention internally without being “captured” by any present events, thoughts, and experiences. Although mindfulness is beneficial in many managerial areas, in this chapter, specifically, the effects of mindfulness in executive coaching—a unique kind of intervention that encompasses practical and goal-focused forms of one-on-one learning and tries to result in meaningful behavioral change in the executive—will be discussed in detail.
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Ever increasing competitiveness of business environment increased the need for more competent leaders and executives and the reported success of coaching have encouraged many companies to benefit from this intervention. It is a unique kind of service provided by a coach to a coachee with the demand of a client mostly CEO, owner or HR manager of the company. In order to understand importance of coaching understanding its meaning is significant. One of the most famous definitions regarding the term coaching is Whitmore’s definition. He suggests that: “Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping people to learn rather than teaching them” (Whitmore, 1992, p. 10). Respecting people’s ideas and feelings encompasses the core of the intervention. In this method, participants feel that they are not viewed as a soulless standard part of the business machine (Enescu and Popescu, 2012). More generally, Peterson and Hicks (1996) defines coaching as ‘the process of equipping people with the necessary tools, know how and insight they need to develop themselves and become more effective’’ (p. 14). Pervasive understandings regarding coaching suggests that the nature of coaching can be viewed as a collaborative relationship formed between a coach and the coachee with the aim of attaining professional or personal development outcomes which are valued by the coachee (Spence and Grant, 2007). In other words, it is a process wherein outsourced suppliers of candor provides the coachee with the objective feedback required for their growth (Sherman and Freas, 2004).

Coaching is a unique kind of intervention that does not end with gaining a satisfactory level of self-awareness. It is a kind of active learning process which enables continuous transfer of essential communication and relationship skills (Sheerman and Freas, 2004). During coaching breaking routine cycles are very important. According to Peterson (1996) in order to break the habit cycle the coach helps the coachee in identifying and anticipating specific situations wherein previous, ineffective habits and routines are detected and given up. Secondly, coach helps individuals learn and practice novel, more effective behaviors. And thirdly, the coach and the coachee work together in order to set specific goals that they can use their new skills. And lastly, these two parts reflect on their experiences and past knowledge that results in continuous learning. In this paper, it is assumed that mindfulness of both the coach and the coachee will effect the efficiency and effectiveness of the coaching process.

As used in this article, mindfulness is a state of consciousness that is an inherent human capacity, that ensures to be mindful at one point or another (Kabat- Zinn, 2005). It can also be considered as a kind of energy that helps people understand the conditions necessary for happiness which are already present in their own selves. Although, mindfulness has its roots in Eastern meditative traditions and popular among Eastern cultures, today it is also discussed and practiced in other cultures especially in Western World. Owing to the fact that popularity of Buddhist thought is spreading all over the world, spiritual concepts including mindfulnes take place in academic studies. In traditional Buddhist belief system, mindfulness is an ancient concept describing attentive thinking style. It is about directing one’s attention. It is a method for being aware of the moment and concentrating fully on the present events. Mostly during thinking, we are lost in past memories or future expectations. Namely, our minds wander among our memories and fantasies or even anxieties. Mindfulness, which will be described in more details in the next section, helps us manage these thoughts and make us prefer to be at the present moment. But, it is not the same thing with giving up thinking, it is rather being aware of what we are thinking and results of these thoughts so that we can manage our minds more effectively (Kabat-Zinn, 2002).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Coach: Someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sport, skill, or school subject.

Mindful Coaching: It is where mindfulness and coaching meet in a harmonic way. In mindfulness people learn to shift from doing mode into being mode. Mindfulness fancies being mode more, namely being still and compassionate, whereas coaching prefers doing mode, namely having goals and action plans. The combination, however, enhances both.

Coachee: A person who receives training from a coach, especially in business or office practice.

Mindfulness: A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Coaching: It is is a short-term interactive intervention between a coach and an executive leading to improved levels of leadership effectiveness through increased self-awareness and behavioral change.

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