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Gestalt Approach in Experimental Design
One of the basic principals in the Gestalt approach has been to utilize the concept of the “Biotic experiment” in conducting or studying various cases. This involves experimenting the applicability of certain concepts and ideas within natural situations instead of utilizing the classic laboratory approach in trying to examine a particular case or situation.
In the case of the article “the lone ranger is dying” the researchers in the experiment specifically state that they wanted to keep pre-structured designs to a minimum so as to be in harmony with Gestalt principles (Leahy & Magerman, 2009). As a result they approached the experiment they were conducting with no conceptual category and instead tried to get as close as possible to the experience utilizing firsthand accounts.
This conforms with the Gestalt concept of the “Biotic experiment” wherein investigating through natural situations is considered the best way at arriving at conclusions.
Gestalt Approach in Data Analysis
Approaches utilizing Gestalt theory always seem to state that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”, in essence this actually an elaboration on the principle of totality which specifically states that individual components must be considered part of a greater system of dynamic relationships rather than be examined on an individual basis.
The same can be said with the approach to data analysis that the researches utilized. Rather than use an initial conventional analytic approach to the experiment wherein significant segments are isolated and examined with a specific set of meaning attached to them the researchers instead attempted to determine an overall pattern to the gathered data (Leahy & Magerman, 2009).
Their goal was find the existence of specific relationships in the given data that would help to clearly define possible relationship between categories.
Gestalt Use of Observation, Inquiry, and Realization
During certain stages of the experiment it can be seen that coaching processes involved a certain degree of observation of the one being coached inquiry into a certain degree of behavioral pattern or train of thought and enabling self-realization over a person’s inherent problems and helping them resolve it (Leahy & Magerman, 2009).
Through certain stages of the various coaching processes people were able to express themselves more, release their internal selves so to speak and experiment with their perceptions of who they were in relation to what they thought they were.
The principles in the study can be boiled down to three distinct concepts namely that of awareness, self regulation and change. In the context of leadership development coaching what must first be understood is that in order for it to actually work people must first be aware of the problems they have as individuals.
There is no such thing as the perfect manager, everyone has flaws one way or another yet the main difference in being a good leader and being a mediocre one is being self-aware regarding personal short comings. These can take the form of anger, impatience, the desire to get things done in a certain way and a variety of other similar reasons.
By become aware of what drives certain actions people will then be able to understand what are the main causes of the problems in their leadership style. After awareness comes self-regulation in that people come to the realization that there is a needed to regular these bad habits in order to become more productive.
This can come in the form of trying to reduce the level of anger one expresses every day, trying to be more patient and finally trying to have a more open view regarding alternative ways of doing things.
Finally the last concept involved change wherein people endeavor to change these negative aspects into more positive applications so as to create a better leadership style that will benefit not only the leader but those who work under him as well.
The first thing that must be understood is that Gestalt therapy places a specific emphasis on personal responsibility and a move towards action. It directs people undergoing the therapy to experience something new rather than merely talking about something new.
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In a way, the Gestalt perspective takes the form of a small personal experiment for the patient in that they are lead to imagine a certain scenario occurring or are asked to perform a certain action which is in direct relation to their behavior so as to create an instance of realization or release on the part of the patient.
In terms of understanding how leadership coaching from a Gestalt perspective impact organizations one must first understand that there is no such thing as a perfect leader, people have certain inherent personality flaws that they themselves are not aware of and as result this impacts how they interact with people and how they are able to lead an organization.
For example a manager at a company may not realize that in his pursuit of maintaining order within the office he has started to shout more often, get angry for no apparent reason and at times overly scrutinize the work of an employee even though it is not necessary.
In such a case most people are not even aware that they are displaying such behavioral aspects which, should they be allowed to continue, can and will negatively impact the organization. Utilizing the Gestalt perspective in leadership coaching, clients are made to delve into a certain degree of self-introspection in that they are encouraged to see themselves for who they are and what their actions are causing.
For example a typical leadership coaching session using Gestalt therapy may have the client pretend to be in a regular office setting and have them act on what they normally do on a daily basis.
As mentioned earlier Gestalt therapy places great importance personal responsibility in that once clients learn through their own realization of their short comings they are usually more susceptible to advice which would enable them to overcome their flaws and be placed on the path of change.
In case of leadership coaching this enables individuals to see problems with their own management styles which in effect could help them mitigate what problems they current have and improve themselves so as to better facilitate the proper management of their respective organizations.
Leahy, M., & Magerman, M. (2009). Awareness, immediacy, and intimacy: The experience of coaching as heard in the voices of Gestalt coaches and their clients. International Gestalt Journal,32(1), 81-144.