Thought Leadership

Neuroscience Informs 'Organizational Coaching' to build systemic Resilience

Cultivating resilient leadership means to understand the way we aggregate into groups, and to direct behaviors to remain in a relaxed physiological state.


‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ‘mental pandemic’ are affecting all organizations and their leaders globally. From a human performance perspective, we should not underestimate their contributions to the rapid rise of burnout and the almost desperate need for enhanced resilience in the workplace. In particular, leaders bear the brunt of this global onslaught. At the same time,  as we come to the realization (or world-wide unconscious response) that individual resilience and well-being will simply not provide adequate protection against burnout, there is a large demand for systemic or organizational resilience. 

To be prosperous and to lead prosperous organizations in Africa, many success factors are required. I would argue that the human factor is at the core of them. Cultivating resilient leadership means not only understanding the way we aggregate into teams and larger groups (organizations, societies), but also effectively harnessing and directing individual, team, and organizational behaviors to remain in a baseline relaxed physiological state (the state of high performance readiness, or thriving). This knowledge should take center stage when planning ‘prosper-strategies’. 

Coaches in the now-distant past of 2019 focused their work very much on individual leaders and their teams. In this new ecosystem, I believe coaches need to add ‘organization coaching’ to their arsenal. Coaches and leaders need to engage in conversations to shape insights on how the organization ‘breathes as a living being’, and then allow these insights to reshape the way leaders integrate ‘managing through systems’ and ‘leading through leadership’. 

These clarion calls are underpinned by behavioral neuroscience and systems thinking. Through their lenses, the need for ‘organizational coaching’ appears unequivocal, but thankfully, the forms such coaching can take are also indicated.   

26 April, 2022

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