My Journey & Experience with the Neurobiology of Coaching Diploma Program

Mar 28, 2024

Over the course of the past year, I immersed myself in a NeuroLeadership Practitioner and Neurobiology of Coaching Diploma program with the About my Brain Institute. 

I began this journey out of a desire to add a leadership assessment to my current offerings that is grounded in the latest neuroscience-based strategies critical to successful leadership in the world today. My experience in this program not only accomplished this initial objective, but it also tremendously exceeded my expectations in terms of the content, learning, and the experience I had throughout the program.

The Challenge & Importance of NeuroCoaching

The world today continues to be confronted by unprecedented challenges and struggles, particularly in our workplaces. 

People’s ability to adapt to this changing world is more stressed than ever before, as indicated by extremely high levels of stress, burnout, poor wellbeing, loneliness, and unhappiness. 

As a result, the need for a more advanced approach to supporting the performance of people both at work in and their lives is more critical than ever before.

In the past, workplaces have been able to get by with minimal people and performance practices. Roles were responsible for performing very specifically defined tasks, activities, and processes that could be dictated by the leaders at the top of the organization. 

As technology advances, the roles people are playing are becoming increasingly complex, requiring more individuals to have the capacity to solve problems, make wise decisions, and navigate relationships effectively.

If we do not find a way to help people expand their capacity for performance, they will be unable to perform in many of the future roles of workplaces. Furthermore, post-pandemic people want more out of their lives than to just survive through their work experience. Instead, people want to be effective, to feel purposeful, and most importantly, to enjoy their experiences both at work and home.

By beginning to look at the neurobiology of the human being and how to optimize and expand their capacity to perform with a neuroscience-based approach, we can help people to evolve to meet the needs of the future. 

What did I learn & discover?

Through my training, I am more convinced than ever that using a neuroscience informed approach to performance and coaching individuals will be one of the biggest differentiators of business performance moving forward. 

This neuroscience-based approach helps to educate individuals on how their bodies and brains operate such that they can tap into their full-bodied wisdom and intelligence. 

Equipped with this knowledge, leaders will be more effective at managing their people, energy, and performance results of their business. Many of our current limitations are due to leaders being unaware of the untapped intelligence and energy that they can leverage in terms of their performance.

This leadership approach still requires many of the skillsets and abilities leaders needed in the past. As coaches, leaders will still need to set goals (using models like the GROW model) but they will also need to think beyond these traditional approaches to tap into greater wisdom including their integration, intuition, imagination, and inspiration. 

The i4 Model recognizes and addresses the capacity leaders need to develop to expand their view and leadership in the world. Furthermore, in my own interaction with leaders in my business and our Evolving Leaders program, I consistently see that the challenges leaders are facing are quite different from the past areas of focus for coaching. 

Today, leaders are dealing with stress, lack of time, pain, anxiety, overwhelm, excess of problems, and managing their business and lives. 

Leaders need strategies and coaching that address more than just traditional workplace challenges or performance issues. They need this neuroscience approach that helps them embody the practices necessary to succeed in this new world of challenges.

The Value of the i4 NeuroLeader™ Assessment

The i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment & Methodology is a valuable tool for anyone but especially for leaders and is based upon four pillars including performance, collaboration, innovation, and agility. 

Each of these four pillars and the competencies associated with them are meant to specifically address the challenges of living in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. The i4 stands for integration, inspiration, imagination, and intuition which represent one key element of each pillar.

One of the key differentiators of this assessment is its truly 360° nature that incorporates family, friends, peers, managers, direct reports, vendors, clients, and more! By gathering data from all those an individual interacts with, they are able to learn how the different segments or individuals in various parts of their lives perceive them. I have discovered these different lenses bring my clients significant perspective on their lives and relationships. 

Each of the 16 competencies associated with the four pillars allows the individual taking the assessment to identify specific gaps that may be limiting their leadership capacity to manage many of the challenges we face in the current VUCA world. When coaching clients with the use of the assessment, we are able to identify extremely specific strengths, blind spots, and gaps that require focus to improve their leadership.

Unlike most leadership assessments that focus on the horizontal development of a person’s capabilities (skills, knowledge, and behaviors), the i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment focuses more on the vertical development and expansion of a leader’s capacity. I have found this assessment to be an incredibly valuable tool to use with leaders to help them gain self-awareness of the ways or opportunities they have to expand their capacity for becoming a great leader.

The Neurobiology of Coaching

Coaching is a word used to describe a broad set of activities performed very differently depending on the individual’s methodology and context. The professional coaching industry has exploded over the past couple of decades along with organizations attempting to create standards and regulate the industry. 

Unfortunately, given the broad category of application, identifying the most effective approaches or individuals qualified to deliver them can be extremely difficult.

Specifically, the neuroscience-based approach that requires an understanding of the neurobiology of the human being in order to effectively create results for the client has been gaining more popularity. 

While anyone can call themselves a “brain coach” or “neurocoach,” the basis of information or certification required to truly bring value to clients is still unclear.

The Neurobiology of Coaching, Well-being & Brain-Friendly Practices Diploma Program created by the About my Brain Institute does a phenomenal job of framing out what knowledge and experience are required to be an effective practitioner in this space. 

The program brought in international experts on each specific topic or area of study to provide the necessary knowledge and exercises to develop understanding and capability to coach on the most important neurobiology coaching topics.

I would have to write a dissertation-level article to address the depth of content and the neuroscience of each of the four pillars and competencies we discussed. However, the brain-based practices have already proved invaluable to my clients as I share these concepts and coach on them regularly.

My Experience with the i4 Assessment

As part of the program, I participated in administering, debriefing, and coaching multiple different individuals. I was able to experience the self-reflection that comes from gaining this additional perspective on a leader’s performance.

One of the most foundational learnings from working with and coaching individuals with this neurocoaching approach is the need to pay attention to nervous system regulation. 

Both the coach and the client’s nervous system state is a huge determining factor in the ability to effectively coach and create transformational change. As a coach, getting coherent and calm with balanced breathing before a session can have a significant impact on the success of the coaching session.

Furthermore, clients may need to start by focusing heavily on nervous system regulation before even diving into deeper issues. We know that when the nervous system is dysregulated, it impairs and prohibits learning and growth. Therefore, if we want our clients to be successful, we have to pay close attention to the state of the nervous system and teach them the techniques that help them to self-regulate and bring their bodies into balance.

Coaching with the i4 Assessment can be overwhelming for clients in the beginning. The assessment has a lot of detailed information and concepts that a person could choose to focus on. 

The coach must take responsibility for helping to support the client by narrowing their focus such that they can dive into a particular area and create meaningful change in their life.

I found it most helpful to ask the client about a current challenge or situation they were dealing with in their life that they would like support around. Then I would do the following:

  • Calibrate around the assessment which competencies might apply to gain self-awareness around the person’s current ways of being. The assessment provides meaningful data that the person can then use as context as they dive into making changes or transforming their current ways of being.
  • Ask the client questions to help them gain important perspective around the issue. I combine the mBIT (multiple brain integration techniques) approach with the assessment to get communications from the neural pathways in the head, heart, and gut intelligences. 
  • Typically, my clients would begin to see significant insights they were not previously aware of or had been unconsciously aware of as part of their practices or behaviors.
  • With these insights, we could then collaborate with the client to identify their blocks and discover their own unique wisdom in how to take action around the situation or challenge. 

In all my sessions, the client was able to get to a valuable outcome with useful direction for how to move forward. Each of my clients experienced significant transformation and awareness from these sessions.

Combining what we know about the neuroscience of human performance with the coaching practice allows us as coaches to create more meaningful change in our clients’ lives. 

Equipped with the scientific understanding for why people think, feel, and behave in certain ways brings tremendous perspective and awareness to our clients as we share this with them. With this new way of seeing themselves, clients are much more likely to take action and make changes in their lives.

Creating Brain Friendly Workplaces

The purpose and mission of my company (and myself) is to truly create more brain-friendly workplaces. Workplaces need to evolve their current ways of working (being) to tap into the greater potential of their human workforce.

About my Brain Institute says, 

“Becoming ‘brain friendly’ is about learning the processes and activities that allow us to become more aware of our behaviors, traits, attitudes, abilities, brain and body responses, inner thoughts, emotions, feelings, needs and desires so we can transition into optimal state so find that feel peaceful, conscious, purposeful, resourceful, effective, and joyful…for as long as we live.”

Every organization has a current way of being (or working) – how people typically think, feel, and behave in their day-to-day interactions and execution of work. These ways of being are limited by the unconscious ways of being of each individual person. 

As people become aware of the unconscious, they can begin to shape themselves in ways that allow them to access more of the intelligence, energy, and performance capacity.

Interested in Learning More?

To learn about NeuroPerformance and a neuroscience-based approach to living a better life sign up here!

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