Bringing the practices of mindfulness and dialogue to leadership conversations

Beyond words

Posts Tagged ‘Leadership embodiment’

Beyond words

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Back in the day, I was a Director of Finance in the NHS. Long before I encountered dialogue practices, my deputy and I were preparing for an important meeting that she’d called. We had to gain support from a local peer group for a crucial development. We were expecting opposition. My colleague was very clear and animated about how to push our agenda through. (more…)

The vision thing

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In coaching supervision, a client was lamenting her lack of ‘a vision’ for her business. Two things flitted briefly through my mind:

• I’m not sure you’re strongly visual in your preferences; and
• who says we need a vision?

I let these thoughts slide by, as my client’s narrative unfolded along different lines. (more…)

Weebles wobble…

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…but they don’t fall down.

Do you remember this jingle for a toy? With a heavy rounded base, a weeble rights itself when pushed over. I use this image to emphasise that the key to Leadership Embodiment practice is recovering centre when we’re buffeted by life. (more…)

Energetic cheques

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In the movie ‘Top Gun’, Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, is berated by his superior with the words:

‘your ego is writing cheques your body can’t cash’

Whilst the language is somewhat more pointed than I generally use (these days, at least), this succinctly conveys a perennial difficulty in the way many of us navigate the world. What I can imagine immediately, greatly outstrips what I can quickly achieve. (more…)

Staying in conversations

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When did you last exit a conversation without raising something important, something you’d planned to say? What happened that left you unable to express yourself in the way you’d intended?

As an executive coach, I use Leadership Embodiment practices to look at this kind of scenario with my clients. The approach encourages us to study ourselves in our interactions with others and the world, and to identify how we react in pressured or stressful situations. It also offers an ‘antidote’, a centring practice through which we can recover our poise and effectiveness. (more…)

Coming through…

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In this summer of ‘Glasgow 2014’ commonwealth games, I was watching athletics on television one recent Sunday afternoon. Between events, the commentators were celebrating great achievements from the past, including Jonathan Edwards’ world record triple jump in 1995. Edwards, who was anchoring the programme, was asked about his experience by one of his colleagues. In his response I noticed the words ‘coming through me’.

My ears pricked up: we use this phrase in Leadership Embodiment to describe centre, a state of ease and ‘flow’, also referred to as ‘being in the zone’. (more…)

Mind the gap

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With a couple of recent examples of not meeting my expectations of myself clear in my mind, I’m thoughtful about moments of error, failure, defeat, misjudgement, or unskilfulness. I’m referring to the kind of episode where, despite our general competence, effectiveness and good intent, we melt down (or flare up), are forgetful of good practice, or clumsy in implementing it. We only realise something has gone awry by the impact of our words or actions, in the form of distress or disadvantage to others.

These lapses in good practice occur for all sorts of reasons (more…)

The grittiness of dialogue

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I recently found a new way to describe the experience of dialogue, seeking to convey a felt-sense of this kind of conversation. It came about because I was asked to contribute to a series of 90-minute leadership development sessions. I don’t often accept such invitations, preferring to host practice-based learning over time. However, sometimes it’s helpful to test my assumptions – my ‘ladder of inference’ – about the lasting impact of short inputs, and to stretch my prejudices about the value of one-off interventions.

In designing the session, I was keen to avoid two potholes:

• too much ‘presenting’ (advocacy) in a context of dialogue (balancing advocacy and inquiry); and
• giving an impression that dialogue is a form of sublime, zen-like conversation. (more…)

Back to basics

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As the year turns, it’s natural to reflect on where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. ‘Where’ questions give a sense of place and journeying, but we could equally reflect on how we are, how we’ve been, and how we intend to be. For some, ‘what’ questions work best, tending to emphasise action, achievements and goals. What is the language of your reflecting process? How does it set a frame for your entry into a new year? (more…)

Naked truth

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In an unsettling week, I’ve been finding solace and inspiration in the Fife countryside. During dawn walks, I’ve watched an insouciant fox, locked gaze with deer, heard and seen a woodpecker beat out its Spring message, and stood beneath a waterfall, as early rays of sunlight sparkled through icicles as thick as my arm. In the rhythm of walking and breathing, I reaffirm my sense of life, of being part of this vibrant tapestry.

In the world of work, there have been two events involving change, disappointment and loss: I initiated one, and am affected the other. (more…)