My journey into Conscious Leadership
Is Curiosity the Capital of Conscious Leadership?
My journey into conscious leadership has taken me further than I intended; I have made more than one glorious stop along the way and it has raised more questions than it has answered. I am left more curious and in part more vulnerable about my knowledge and practice than I could have imagined. This has been a great journey, where I have stood upright at points, crawled and slid feet first at others.
At the centre I realise my thinking has been elevated into questioning what it really means to be neutral when entering the clients map of the world and to what extent neutrality is necessary or naïve?
Sitting here reflecting on my coaching I am wondering to what degree I have been able to bring the present to my clients, in service of my clients? I also wonder to what extent, while well intended, this has led to a situation where I am now consciously shoehorning my own agenda? While this remained unconscious, I could not consider how my ethics and value influenced the coaching process and infiltrated my practice. In short, once you know, are you duty bound to accept this into your practice and aim to hold neutrality? or are consequences and outcomes a more appropriate framework to developing practice?
Over the last 12 months I have worked to develop my understanding of what it means to work with the present and how this informs the coaching process from entry to exit. More importantly I have interrogated my ideals of what it means to be a leader and what clients really mean when they work with what might appear to be, fixed and accepted concepts.
As a starting point I explored my own conscious awareness, I am realising that my heart, soul, and beliefs guide my coaching in unimaginable ways. For example, I made a stop at kindness and explored its delights. I considered how it is packaged in our lives? It is printed on t-shirts, on posters and even frames my mobile phone as I write this blog. The world's message is to be kinder; kinder to ourselves, kinder others and kinder to our world. However I invite you to go further, enter the cave, and see what lurks within. Consciousness has led me to a place that interrogated kindness and the realisation that this simple well intended concept holds both a dark and a light side. So, when I hold what I believe to be well-meaning intentions of kindness and act in the principle of kindness is this enough as a coach, and a client or is there more at stake? For example, a number of clients will describe how they avoid delegation at some level and describe kindness as causation with a desire to unburden and protect their staff. However, when invited to take closer inspection they find far more than their own willingness and desire to be kind. A simple question can elicit an illuminating response "what does it mean to you when you use the word ...? '. To invite any client to visit this level of curiosity I have to have braved the journey myself and questioned my own concepts of both well intended and berating narratives. In my own meanderings I would always wish to be kind, but this might leave me shying away from a critical questions and not always acting in service of the client. Holding back on the questions that has the potential to be liberating would surely be unkind!
What about the light and dark of all concepts?
I have come to question such concepts for myself and begin to wonder what happens when we label an action and how this narrative then deems our actions appropriate or inappropriate. I have started to question the light and the dark or my own narration and how this shapes me as a person and a coach. For example, how does the goal centred, objective focused leader, who wants to work with high energy, in that blurred boundary of stress response, engage in a session where they are being asked to play with pace and take notice of the present? Based on my current practice I hold space that enables the client to explore this position, inviting the client to take notice, believing this vessel offers the client space where they can shift brain and play around with what occurs. However I wonder at what point this might be considered an imposition in creating consciousness and if I state it is always in service of the client, then by whose standards and what does that really mean?
I have concluded that for me neutrality is naïve, I am an emotional being and I bring my whole self to every session, in service of my client and to the best of my knowledge at that time. I chose me! That is what I have to offer a client and being in a shared transformational space together we engage with cognitive, emotional and somatic field of awareness. In any session, the question of how to develop conscious awareness sits with my client, I support their journey and aim to avoid leading them along mine. Bringing the self, is my greatest strengths and Achilles heel as I am constantly playing with tensions and have to be sure I do not fuse a client’s experiences and issues with my own.
To this point, conscious leadership has emphasised the critical part that continuous professional development and supervision plays in holding a safe space for me to consider what 'in service of the client’ really means and how working from a place of conscious awareness is limited by consciousness itself.
This learning has shaped my view of supervision and what I conscious arrive with and how that grows as part of the supervision process. For me the capital of consciousness is curiosity? What a beautiful and intriguing place to stay and play awhile. Will I visit again,? you bet your boots I will, in fact I am not too sure I want to leave, not yet.
Hold on to your hat 'Auriel and Carole' big supervision sessions approaching!
With thanks to
Karim Hirani - for conversation
Joel Monk - for conversation
Paul Byrne -for conversation
Chris Whitehead - for workshop - The Compassionate Leadership Interview | Podcast | Sheffield (compassionate-leadership.co.uk)
Auriel Majumda - for supervision auriel (aurielmajumdar.com)
Carole Whyley - for superfriendship and supervision