Why does business coaching work?

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With a rush of dopamine, all ills are curedIt’s always amazing how it is that a manager can have some initial sessions with a coach and come out claiming that, like the beneficiary of some miracle, all their ills are cured.  It’s very common to hear coaches praised for their great initial assistance.  But why does business coaching work? How is it that apparently coaches can work such wonders? And does coaching continue to work after the initial euphoria?

Often managers (who might consider coaching as a solution) are at an emotional low and worried about their firm and their own performance.  This creates negative emotion – in extreme cases, depression.  It’s particularly intense if the manager has few friends or colleagues to talk to about what’s bugging them.

Then someone suggests a coaching session.

Coaches commence their work by building trust and rapport.  Translated as friendship signals, the manager senses positive relations build to fill the previous void.  This causes the manager to express positive emotions.  Positive emotions release dopamine, the brain’s neural transmitter. The rush of dopamine acts like a drug and makes us feel good.  The manager therefore feels good.  So in a self-fulfilling way, coaching works.  The manager feels good and applies their new found positivism to their work and improvements happen.

Coaching works in the short term simply by providing the manager with a friend to talk to and this has a positive physiological outcome.  Whether coaching will work in the long term depends on the needs of the manager.  If needing a friend with whom to work through problems, then coaching may work.  If additional knowledge, skills and experience are needed to solve the manager’s problems, a mentoring or consulting approach may be more appropriate.

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