Leadership coaching

Hey you. I see you, leading. Leading a team, a project, an organisation. A movement?

Is it a presentation you need help with? Have a look at presentation coaching.

It can be difficult, sometimes, to live up to people’s expectations. People need so much from you, but inside, it’s a bit more, er, chaotic at times, right?

Knowing which decisions to make, how to communicate difficult stuff to sometimes-difficult people. And the emails, the meetings, the kind of public persona you have to inhabit.

Andrew Lightheart

It can feel like you never catch a breath.

Not that you don’t love your job, and believe you’re doing something good. You know you’re doing your best, but, sheesh is it hard.

Well, with me, you have someone who is completely in your corner. And dedicated time for you to just think. And process. And maybe offload.

I’m a huge advocate for you when we’re together, but that doesn’t mean I’m not gently challenging. Because I believe in your potential. In your growth. In your evolution as a leader.

So if you feel like you’d like some regular time to do the strategic thinking you know you’ve got to do, and more importantly, the personal values alignment you know your work needs, I’m here.

Working with me is like borrowing some extra insight (and steadiness and compassion) when you need it.

I give you extra processing power, both by giving you my brain and my heart to look at what’s in front of you and what’s ahead of you and find your way forward. Sometimes we’ll zoom out to long time horizons and systemic impact and your role in the world, other times we’ll zoom in on the detail of a meeting or conversation that’s in your face.

I am not a neutral coach.

I do have a clear agenda when I’m working with you.

I work with leaders and organisers to increase your capability and capacity to do the wise thing at the right time.

 

  • To think in terms of multiple timelines. We need to be able to be in the moment right now, to think about next week and next month, as well as thinking ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred years ahead.

  • To look this messy, broken, beautiful world in the eye. By the way, this includes your messy, broken, beautiful organisation! There’s something profound and necessary about not turning away from complexity, from non-binary spectrums, from uncertainty, paradox and mess. Sometimes we want things neat and they’re just NOT. In fact, if you can be somewhat at peace with the chaotic truth of the world, you can still do stuff, you can still take wise and timely action, instead of freezing or getting overwhelmed.

  • To spot systemic patterns and flows of history. The ability to go ‘This is (partially) an example of this...’, or ‘This is a bit like this and this…’ or ‘Something like this has happened before…’  means you can discover links that allow deeper change to happen.

  • To embrace your own humanity and the humanity of others. The ability to include more and more people’s perspectives, in deeper and deeper ways, is a hallmark of someone who can find plans and solutions that are sustainable and supported, robust and inclusive.

  • To be aware of your awareness. Thinkers like MIT’s Otto Scharmer have a hunch: the element that determines the effectiveness of a system intervention is the quality of awareness of the intervenor. What you’re aware of and how warm, how open, how gently focused, how wide, how still you are when thinking, listening, speaking, doing, is key key key to how deep your influence can be.

 

We need to aim towards these capabilities because the challenges we face as individuals, groups, organisations, humans and as a planet require them. Siloed thinking that operates from simple causality is what got us into this mess.

And my hunch is: helping you with these things? Is where I can currently do the most good in the world.

The planet

We are already on the cusp of irreversible environmental disaster and although some of the actions required are clear, how to make them happen, particularly at scale, demands all the subtlety of thinking outlined above if we have any chance of keeping a planet that is capable of sustaining human life.

Social justice for everyone

We live in a world that harbours a huge one-way imbalance of power. People of Colour, queer people, trans and non-binary people, women, disabled people, poor people (and people who live at the intersections of more than one of the above identities) are constantly harmed just for existing in the world.

If we are to create a world that is supportive for ALL people, then leaders and organisers have to do in-depth, often tumultuous, transformational work. We have to learn to nurture the parts of us that have been programmed to feel less-than and melt the parts of us that have been programmed to feel better-than.

We also need to dismantle the oppressive systems around us that are rooted in racism, slavery, genocide and colonialism, and grow new ones that are collective and radically inclusive, so there is true equity in who makes decisions and who holds power and resources. This goes so far beyond laughably simplistic ‘diversity’ thinking.

We also have to face the fact that our ways of living are already forcing millions of people to live in horrific conditions. Reconsidering the way we live as individuals, organisations and countries is vital if we are to look after all of humanity, not just a wealthy, lucky few.

Organisations

The world is only becoming more complex and volatile. Organisations that cling to outdated models of hierarchy and siloed outcomes will only fall behind, if they survive at all. Nimble, self-organising, responsive organisations with sustainability and equity at their heart are the ones that will survive and thrive. We need leaders who can plant the seeds and nurture the spaces for these organisations to grow, and that is a complex, challenging path-that-isn’t-yet-a-path.

Groups

Humans, particularly western humans, don’t know how to meet in groups. Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless identified the Big Five ways that we tend to meet - presentation, open discussion, managed discussion, brainstorm and status update - as holding inequality at their core.

We need to find ways to meet that include as many voices as possible, that use participatory ways of making decisions, that deal productively with the natural conflict and deadlock that happen even in healthy groups.

Neither bombastic, black-and-white thinkers nor I’ll-find-the-answer-for-you lead-from-the-front leaders are going to do a tenth as well as people who genuinely know we each hold only a piece of the truth.

Conversations

Most of how we interact with other people is through one-on-one conversations. Knowing how to actually listen, how to not shy away from awkward conversations and stay present (even in the midst of conflict and strong emotions) are tough skills to develop and maintain. They need flexible thought, responsibility and boundaries that move beyond rigid certainty. They also require a knowledge of power differences and an awareness of intention and impact as societal inequalities play out even in our close relationships.

Yourself

You’re good at getting stuff done in the world, you’re smart, you know how to influence, you hit your numbers, but when you look up at the world, you see how much is still broken. You care sometimes so much that it’s hard to switch off. You see that you can’t do it all, but don’t see much alternative. You struggle with the seeming intractability of the people around you, of the frustrating rollercoaster of translating your vision into real reality.

These pressures, these tensions don’t have to stall you. They can transform you, if we hold them in the right way. Mainly we evolve when life forces us to. Knowing how to be healthily at the edge of our current capacity is how we grow in functional (as opposed to dysfunctional!) ways. There’s wisdom to be found when we’re in over our heads...

The work I do with leaders and organisers ranges around all of these things and more.

Sometimes we go in really high-level, finding our way through the complexity and mess from a philosophical, conceptual viewpoint.

Sometimes we’re right down there with our feet on the ground, looking at meetings, presentations, conversations and writing you’ve got coming up soon, building clear plans.

Sometimes we’re right in the middle of your human life, working on how you can be present, how you manage your commitments, how you can be the kind of person you want to be moment-to-moment.

It’s my job to support you in becoming the leader you want to be, and, frankly, the leader the world needs you to be.

(I turned the above into a kind of manifesto for leaders here)

When we’re working together, you have unlimited access to me.

We'll meet on the phone/Zoom (and face-to-face if we’re geographically close). What that tends to look like is meeting up every couple of weeks for 90 minutes or so and we talk. Well, mainly you talk and I listen.

I listen for structure, for patterns, for when you’re being most you - and gently question areas where I suspect you’re not paying enough attention. (I’ve got a super handy calendar booking link where you just book the time straight into my calendar - as far in advance as you want.)

I know you’re not scared of feelings and neither am I - in fact, they’re a vital part of your life as a leader.

I can be an accountability partner too - but never in a guilt-making way. Sometimes clients like to keep in touch via What’s App or text - I even text one client mindfulness reminders so that they appear on their Apple watch!

If you’ve got something particularly intense coming up, you can book longer or more frequent sessions - whatever support is right. It’s up to me to say if it ever gets too much - it never has turned out that way as my clients tend to be super-busy anyway and I block my time out when I need it - so things all balance out in the end.

Some coaches are a bit funny about giving advice but if you want it, I’ll weigh in at times. Especially if there’s an idea from group dynamics or conflict resolution or something that I think will benefit you. I’ll give you reading homework if that’s your thing, or just explain useful concepts and frameworks to you…

Although I find this lens really useful, I don’t coach via a particular methodology but constantly draw from a variety of stuff I’ve metabolised along the way. I’m a total nerd about so many aspects of group and individual life - you get the results of my metabolising!

So if you suspect this might be the right time for you, get in touch.

We'll book in a 30-minute chat to check if we both feel it's right.

If we both want to go ahead, we'll agree a fee - probably for six months to begin with - and I'll invoice you so you can pay in whatever way works (PayPal, Purchase Order, bank transfer...)

You pay, you book in sessions and we start!