Why coaching is effective – especially in high stakes situations

by Anna
Published on: December 1, 2013
Categories: Uncategorized
Comments: Comments Off on Why coaching is effective – especially in high stakes situations

New research carried out by Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School has presented evidence that our decision-making faculties are not at their best when in a state of anxiety.

In summary, the conclusions of the research were that,
(1) “Those in the anxious state were … more likely to take the advice they were given,”,
(2) “Anxiety reduced their ability to discern between good and bad advice”, and
(3) “People who were made to feel anxious were more open to, and more likely to rely on, advice even when they knew that the person offering it had a conflict of interest ” 

These conclusions provide further evidence for utilizing coaching as a method of individual development and growth.  One of the central principles of coaching is that the coachee remains “in the driving seat” and is always accountable for decision-making.  Francesca Gino’s research reveals that the ability to discern good and bad advice is reduced in states of anxiety which is exactly why having access to a coach, rather than simply a mentor or advisor is so important.

The coach facilitates learning and an increase in self-awareness through powerful questions, and the introduction of relevant tools and methods through the coaching process.  However, the choice as to what tools to use and what actions to take are always in the hands of the coachee, not the coach.  In the coaching relationship, the coach is not the advisor but instead helps the individual better see what options might be possible – the choice of which option to take is firmly in the hands of the coachee.

The coaching approach means that an individual in a state of anxiety is not put in danger of being influenced to take one approach over the other.  This decreases the likelihood of an individual making a decision that they would not normally take if under less pressure.

So, for those high stakes decisions where we are under pressure and looking for the “right” answer, getting the support of a coach may be the best place to start.


You can find out more about the research mentioned in this blog via this link on the HBR Blog Network: How Anxiety Can Lead Your Decisions Astray”  By Francesca Gino


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