When implementing a change the “inner climate” of an organization is often identified as a barrier. Communication, culture, the climate for learning and access to knowledge are hard areas to impact change in a tangible way…so we call them the “soft skills”. “Hard science” is shedding more light on the soft skills, and how we can better impact the thinking of others. Neuroscience and functional MRIs demonstrate what happens to our brains when we feel threatened, scared or uncertain. Our amygdala goes into high gear, shutting down our cerebral cortex and stopping high functioning thinking and performance.
Often change is perceived as a threat – there is a high degree of uncertainty, a sense of low autonomy, a shift in relationships and status, and sense of fairness (Rock, 2009). Change of any type requires people to feel safe. There are ways to keep the “amygdala at bay” to get the best out of people. Our language, tonality, choice of words and non-verbals all can be adjusted to support others thinking. In order to keep the pre-frontal cortex engaged, we have to feel safe. In the absence of a threat, individuals are more likely to find a way to adopt change. Safe environments for these interactions are characterized by the ability of individuals to collectively grow, plan, reflect, solve problems and create a deeper connection (Costa & Garmston, 2016). As leaders that means we must invest in the “cognitive capital” of our people to create adaptive and purposeful learning environments. This approach is not inherent in the “expert” model of healthcare. As healthcare leaders, how do we shift from our identity as “problem solvers” towards “mediators of thinking” to grow our teams and collaborative partnerships?
There are ways you can adapt your style to promote psychological safety and learn the skills to get the best out of people. Based on 35 years of practice and research in the educational sector, Cognitive Coaching provides the science, mindset shift, practical tools and skill development to be a mediator of others thinking. The intention of the coach as a mediator of thinking is an underused and powerful tool for change. It helps the coachee make sense and filter change in a meaningful way to promote self-directedness. Intentional and authentic engagement is foundational to achieving results. It is through the meaningful interactions of people that creates psychological safety and a culture of learning. Thought Architects is working with Cognitive Coaching to bring this training into healthcare. You can be a leader in this area of implementation and build your own skills as a change agent – and impact others in doing so. An open session of Cognitive Coaching is being offered in Calgary starting in October 2019. Please go to https://www.thoughtarchitects.ca/calendar-of-events for more information and registration links.