The space to think

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Part of Leading through Covid-19

Leading through Covid-19

At a time of immense pressure on both the health and care system and on individuals – and when everything is changing so fast – how are you finding space to think or to download your leadership experiences? How as a leader or manager are you helping others to do the same? 

Why conversations matter

At a time of immense pressure on both the health and care system and on individuals – and when everything is changing so fast – how are you finding space to think or to download your leadership experiences? Good peer or managerial support to process extraordinary shared experiences can create a sense of camaraderie and of being ‘in it together’. This can help individuals and teams move through, and beyond, the current Covid-19 context in good physical and mental health. In these challenging, frightening and unprecedented times, the need for leaders and managers to connect with colleagues and create a sense of cohesion is especially important. So how can we use peer support structures to find the space to think?

Coaching can help us to find this space: coach and coachee work together in a journey of discovery about ‘what could be’. Neither assumes they know best, but both are committed to questioning and learning. These conversations do not need to be long to be useful.

Asking the right questions

Schein (2013) has written about ‘humble inquiry’ – the gentle art of asking questions. We might think we all already know how to ask questions, but to discover ‘what could be’, asking questions must be accompanied by a willingness to listen to the answers with humility. This changes questioning into a vehicle for connecting, hearing and being heard, building trust, modelling strength, vulnerability and learning. This creates a genuine space to think, grounded in a spirit of alongsidedness.

So which questions can you start to ask both yourself and others when leading through Covid-19? Here are some suggestions to get you started. 

But remember asking is only part of the journey, listening and thinking are needed to move you to 'what could be'.

Reference: Schein EH (2013). Humble inquiry: the gentle art of asking instead of telling. Oakland, California, US: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Comments

Bill mcallister

Position
Ceo,
Organisation
Disruptive innovation
Comment date
21 April 2020

A great resource and asking those different questions, as Bohm says what dialogue are we interpreting?

Belinda Weir

Position
Director,
Organisation
Centaura Ltd
Comment date
28 April 2020

It is so important to find thinking space; if we don't ask ourselves and others the right questions, we risk not being able to move forward to 'what could be'. Finding ways to explore these questions together is also vital - I have a sense that many people are struggling with them alone. How can we support a collective inquiry?

Julie Buckingham

Position
Leadership Coach,
Organisation
Julie Buckingham
Comment date
28 August 2020

Thank you for sharing this really practical article, some questions that I have written down but also signposting us to Schein's writing. Well-written and very useful

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