As her colleagues guarded turf in a complex discussion over resource allocation, the Chief Executive quietly left the stuffy room. Actually, ‘stuffy’ is an understatement – I was facilitating in a ‘greenhouse’ – a windowless, south-facing, glass-and-chrome building in which the air conditioning had failed on the hottest afternoon of the Summer. Patience was wearing thin and tempers were as high as the temperature. This meeting was pivotal – funding to secure the future of shared services in this region was being brokered between the CEOs of the different Public Sector agencies present.
I’ve increasingly been making films and using the process of film-making as an integral part of my coaching and OD practice. For those who are interested, one example of an early experiment is here… It’s been a fascinating development and contrary to my expectations, including a camera in a coaching conversation has brought an element of what is trendy to call ‘mindfulness’ to the conversation, for both myself and those clients who are up for it.
I have come to see that those moments that most challenge my sense of ‘self’ often hold the most potential for change and growth. Such moments take me out of my comfort zone, and so face me with a contradiction – of my excitement at discovering a new edge of my personal development and opening to vulnerable-making new experiences; alongside a countervailing impulse to protect my identity at all costs and retreat to familiar behaviours and patterns of engaging with the world…
Most of us feel deficient in making, managing and growing money, and yet we do not understand how to change our relationship with it.
One of my colleagues did a quick workshop warm-up exercise with a group of managers recently. Working in pairs, group members had to ‘mirror’ a sequence of each other’s movements, which became progressively more complicated. Frequent failure was guaranteed, but when either person made a mistake, they had to shout ‘Yay!’ and throw their arms up in a celebratory victory salute! The point of the early-morning warm-up was simply to wake us up and have some fun, but the exercise reminded me about the golfer Jack Nicklaus’s recommendation, to ‘play badly well’…
Generative leadership seems so vital these days, yet there is also a collective mistrust of leaders. So what is it that we are looking for? What would make a difference?
I’d been jostled out of boarding the tube once that morning and I wasn’t going to let it happen again… so when the doors swung apart and the crush of morning bodies surged forwards for the second time, I elbowed my way impatiently in front of the dad with his small son and left them stranded on the platform, looking exasperated. My aggression dissipated into guilt.
I have begun work with some new clients and predictably, one of the first things they encounter on the journey of personal and leadership transformation is their Inner Critic. Learning how to transform our relationship with our Inner Critic is essential to the success of any of our personal development efforts.
Not all concepts can be used instrumentally, like techniques. Rather than pushing ourselves to ‘do’ something with them, perhaps we can let them sit in our awareness in ways that they can do something to us… I tried to communicate this possibility creatively, through a story, on a recent Constellations training programme I led with my colleague Barbara Morgan, about the Interrupted Reaching Out Movement.