What does Cognitive Coaching mean to me?

I came to be intrigued by cognitive coachingever since I read the article from ‘The Reflective Leader’, by Ole Steen Andersen, et al. The article has beautifully covered the human reactions in a three dimensional way and gives an insight into the possibility of looking at every aspect from an outside view. I have always believed that every individual and situation is best handled head-on and best solved with a neutral view. Many of us in decision making and leadership roles would have faced numerous challenging situations but a very low percentage of us would have actually tackled these situations with an unbiased opinion. Most of us generally assume that whatever decisions we have made are in the best interests of everyone, but many times we do not think of how the opposite individual concerned is affected. We get so clouded by our confidencethat we fail to recognise and understand what the other person actually wants or what he is really feeling about the decision. We realise this only when either the decision has gone wrong or when someone points out this fact. This condition is generated by the strong influence of our possessed knowledge and the experiences that we have had in the past, which can also be termed as cognitive knowledge. I believe that although this condition is experienced by many of us, there is always a chance for improvement in beinga leader and a better human being. I think every individual has the capacity and the capability to observe himself and improve rather than depend on others to point out his mistakes. And this is what has also been covered in the introduction chapter of the above mentioned book (Chapter 9). It tells us that every individual can prove to be a better leader by training on his own. It teaches us to train our minds and change our behaviour and other physical attributes especially in


dealing with subordinates and juniors and thereby become more effective leaders. I strongly agree with what the article has advocated and that is what cognitive coaching is all about. I would refrain from getting into theoretical aspects at this point and not cover the cognitive cycle and other similar concepts. I prefer to mention in simple terms what I have understood from the class and the readings. It is about knowing oneself through self-observation and self-feedback, and furthermore in helping subordinates in discovering themselves. learn these talents. According to me, ‘reflection’ is the most important part of cognitive coaching. It means to havea second look on what we have accomplished in the past and improving upon that action. Instead of doing exactly what has been done before, cognitive coaching teaches us, instead, to analyse the action of the past and decide if that was the right decision or not. And based on this analysis, we modify our decisions or actions in future with a view to improve. It needs to be appreciated that all of us have prejudices about every single activity or action. We always tend to behave and react to situations in ways that we have done in the pastand more importantly if the results have been favourable. This forms part of our cognitive knowledge. Our perceptions about things become so ingrained over time that it becomes difficult to get to change this approach. Cognitive coaching, through the practice of reflective leadership, will aim at exactly on how to overcome this limitation. Once an individual has successfully learnt to reflect upon his thoughts and actions he will face a much easier journey in the future. Cognitive coaching does not stop here though. Although reflection is the most important of all aspects of cognitive coaching, no results are achieved till the time this reflection is transformed into the required


coaching will provide us with the tools and necessary tips to help us

conception and finally into practice. Unless and until the reflection is understood in more practical and simple terms it will be difficult to implement the change that would be needed to make the whole process work successfully. What one needs to do post-reflection is to try and devise new ways of carrying out the particular actionsthat are needed to accomplish the preset goals. If there is poor or improper understanding of the reflection then the implementation of the learning would be affected adversely. However, it should be noted that the final step of implementationdoes not include only what the title suggests. Besides implementation it also includes supervision and feedback to ensure that things are going according to plan and that the required level of motivation and interest are maintained. And this is where the whole concept of cognitive coaching turns a full circle.

How can I use (subject) in my life?
Having served in the Indian Army for nearly 9 years, I have had the chance to put my leadership skills to the test and fortunately I have been considerably successful as a leader and a coach. However, looking back at things, I can observe that most of my past decisions were based on learning through trial and error, and that I had never actually applied much thought to my actions. I believe that this is the way most humans perform, but there still exists a scope for improvement in every aspectof leadership. What I have gained from the concept of cognitive coaching is the understanding of the whole process of learning, from knowing to doing and the option of putting that to practice in live situations. I am looking at cognitive coaching concept as a tool to breakdown the process of decision making and categorizing the leadership skill into different phases in order to be more effective. I fully understand the constraints at this nascent stage of development of my leadership skills and also the difficulties of practical implementation of the

concept of cognitive coaching. However, I also have the confidence to be able to do it systematically and in an orderly fashion. I will not be part of any military force in the future and so I may not be able to apply this learning to something that I have done in my past, but in my opinion, this will not make much difference as far as leadership is concerned. I am at a stage in life where I am undergoing a significant transformation from one kind of life style to something completely different that is absolutely new to me. The MBA is one of my biggest tools to help me gain the knowledge and the expertise that I need in order to adapt to this major change in my life. But doing an MBA alone is not going to help me unless I have the opportunity to put things into practice and prove myself under trying circumstances. This is exactly where I intend to put cognitive coaching into practical use. In the last two months I have been able to get into a habit of reflecting upon myself and my actions, and I have come to learn a lot more about myself. I consider that I have been successful in forming a very constructive habit of making rational and conscious decisions, be it related to my studies or in personal life. I strongly believe that one does not really need the help of another ‘coach’ to help understand own problems. Cognitive coaching has the ability to provide one insight into one’s own life and all actions emanating on a daily basis. I am being optimistic in the sense that I can be my own coach in every aspect of my life. I wish to use this beautiful tool to know myself better and understand my strengths and limitations from a completely different perspective. I wish to keep my biases aside and think about different solutions from a more neutral point of view. At this point of time I may not be able to pinpoint how exactly I will put this to use but looking at this subject from a wider outlook I can say that it does not really matter. Unless and until I am able to make

this a part of myself, there will be no way in which I will be able to make judicious use of this concept. The whole practice of coaching and overcoming cognitions has to become ingrained into my personality and only then will I be able to arrive at more effective decisions in every aspect of life. I have now started to learn my capabilities on the basis of my knowledge about my potential and I will continue to build upon these. At the same time I will also use the cognitive coaching tool to help me recognize what my hidden capabilities are; something which I have never even realized that I might possess.


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