The Importance of a Thinking Environment

Today’s brain-based economy puts a premium on cerebral skills, in which cognition is the ignition of productivity and innovation. High performance cultures often equate to high pressure environments and leadership teams across all industries are thus forced to manage the consequences of too much pressure, burn-out, anxiety etc. A study by the London School of Economics and King’s College London estimated that the annual cost of workplace burnout to European businesses was £77bn in 2018. In an era whereby so much emphasis is put on productivity and innovation, why do we seem to be attacking the vital asset which ignites those skills?

Through both my time in corporate and my current coaching work, I have become more and more aware of this concept. I very often hear people say that they cannot ‘think straight’, they have ‘brain fog’ or are just unable to think clearly or focus on a daily task, let alone a longer term goal. While the reasons for this may be complex, often these individuals are top performers, highly talented, in some cases executive members of a team. All struggling to think effectively and are therefore limited in their ability to be creative, to innovate etc.

Coaching offers this space to think hence why workplace coaching is so effective. I recently read Nancy Kline’s ‘Time to Think’ whereby she sets down a highly effective set of techniques for creating a ‘thinking environment’. It got me thinking a lot about my coaching sessions and how perhaps this chronic sense of ‘brain fog’ and inability to think clearly was related to the suppression of what Kline would call a ‘thinking environment’. If we agree that the brain that contains the problem also contains the solution then it is our job as leaders to exercise that practice and set up the conditions for that person to think, resolve and progress.

Thinking Environments are a must for every member of the team. I would go further to add that Thinking Environments as a result of effective coaching offer huge ROI and Senior Leaders more than ever before, should be compelled to seek out Coaching for effective use of their time, in addition to sponsoring a coaching culture in their business.

This month, I have been coaching one Business leader in an organisation through behavioural change. It was through our coaching sessions that this person was able to see that their habits were perceived negatively throughout the business and that those habits needed to change not only for the good of the business but more importantly for their own credibility and progression. By allowing this person time to think and following a transformational approach to coaching, they were able to identify what they needed to work on and use this as a goal. I have no doubts that if the coaching sessions achieve what they are set out to do we will also see more ROI; increased business performance; employee retention and morale; greater employee commitment etc. Furthermore, the transformational approach rather than the transactional means that we are working not only at the behavioural level but also at the mindset and beliefs level enabling us to make a more long term sustainable change which will have an overall impact on the business at large. 

When discussing the benefits of coaching cultures in an organisation, it’s important to remind ourselves that the emerging population of leaders are demanding a Coaching Culture in the workplace. By 2025, millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) will make up 75% of the world’s working population (Forbes). For them, Learning & Development and Time to Think Environments are a must, not a nice to have.

And so with that demand for change and as coaching starts to become more and more engrained in the workplace will inevitably come time to think and a space in which the brain can ignite and productivity, innovation and creativity prosper.

Suzy Beech, ICF Certified Coach

If you would like to find out more about Coaching, please contact me at or visit our website


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