Spiral Dynamics – A Twist on the Coaching Conversation

As coaches, we know that servicing clients’ absolute values is very important to the coaching conversation. When coaching clients connect to their deepest values, the vision that arises from this place is powerful, stable, and highly motivating.

In Module III of The Art & Science of Coaching, coaches are introduced to the powerful methodology of Spiral Dynamics, developed by the late Dr. Clare Graves. Spiral Dynamics explores the core intelligence and deep values that flow beneath our beliefs and actions. This dynamic whirl of evolving thinking describes how individual and societal values appear and spread. These stages are not steps but rather a spiral that is inclusive of each tier.

The Spiral Dynamics model is valuable to you as a coach because it supports you to understand why clients make decisions in different ways, and what to do to best support them in their model of the world and the vision they have for their life.

The values linked to each level of Spiral Dynamics help to support you to communicate with your clients in ways they understand best, on their terms, not yours. We can also use Spiral Dynamics to support and motivate clients in ways that matter to them…right here, right now!

Here is a brief review of the levels:

(Content source: www.spiraldynamics.org, created by Dr. Clare Graves. The chart is based on his student Don Beck’s work to develop the name and the colors. Erickson has taken an overview of this work into our own coaching approach.)

Consider that we live in many different realities, all at once. These parallel universes are all important. All clients have unique intelligences and competencies. Different things motivate them and their priorities shift. People do what makes sense to them, as they see ‘the real world’ and put ‘first things first’ based on those definitions. Change happens as both the external life conditions and individual growth, ebb and flow. All the differences create the whole. We are all part of the whole.

Erickson’s founder – Marilyn Atkinson, has a long-standing dream that the coaching conversation will raise the consciousness of people everywhere. Integrated Solution-Focused coaching techniques offer the unique opportunity for clients and coaches to engage in profound and transformational conversations.

We would like to invite each of you to join her stand for global transformation by integrating questioning formats that promote level seven thinking.

Possible coaching questions that meet the client in his or her model of the world:

Level 5 – Strive Drive

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How will you get what you want?
  • What is the personal gain?
  • What might stop you?
  • How would you know if you got it?

Level 6 – Circle Bond

  • Considering your community, what do you want to support?
  • How will you assist to the group?
  • What might stop you from supporting the group to be better?
  • How would you know if your assistance mattered to the group?

Level 7 – Flex Flow

  • What’s your contribution to the big picture?
  • How can you deepen your contribution to the system?
  • How will you align with others to make this happen?
  • What skills do you bring to the system?
  • How can your skills be integrated with the whole?
  • How will you better cooperate with others?




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