It’s not that unusual for people to cry when they work with me. Stopping the daily busy-ness and task-focused activities to pause, reflect and to think well can often bring things to the surface that people hadn’t noticed were there. Our always-on and busy lives lead us to sweep things under the carpet and carry on with an “it’s all fine” and “I’m fine” face on. Sometimes a client’s upset is “normal level” upset, sometimes it’s a symptom of medically-recognisable anxiety for which they need different help than I can provide. And when I say anxiety, don’t picture “jibbering mess, barely able to function”. Instead picture the reality which is genuinely what’s in front of me – capable, confident leaders who are very skilled at what they do and who are able to hide their anxious turmoil REALLY well.
“I feel like a washing machine – everything’s churning round and yet it’s going nowhere.”
“I feel like I’m sinking in it all.”
“This isn’t sustainable.”
These things I’ve heard from leaders I’ve worked with. Men and women who feel swamped. It could be they’ve stepped up into an MD or CEO role where they’re suddenly in the most exposed position they’ve ever known, without development through their transition. Or budgets are cut in in the “reduce costs to maximise profits” race, removing more people from the structure than there are systems or processes to compensate for. Or businesses that have grown so fast, piling the work on those who are there, without stopping to review what’s actually needed to grow sustainably. And sometimes it’s not even any of that. It’s just that sometimes life throws a load of stuff at us all at once – from home, from work, from relationships… and it can be overwhelming.
For this post I’m delighted to be hosting a piece from Andrew Page. I worked with Andrew and a number of his fellow leaders alongside Lane 4 as part of their leadership development programme at Loughborough Uni, and I subsequently went on to work with more of the Anglian team at one of their main UK locations.
At the age of 30 I was properly introduced to the concept of chaos when I had my first baby. Until then, or at least through my ’18 and over’ life, things had been fairly un-chaotic. That’s not to say they were uneventful but any surprising or unexpected events were mostly fun and things I wanted to be part of. As I went from 25 to 30 we bought our first house, did it up and purchased much from Ikea (other household shopping outlets are available). During that time we settled into the rhythm of grown up working and home-owning life.
A 15 minute keynote with Suzy – all the way from Oz!
In the Positivity Institute they talk a lot about the F word – Flourishing! Help people thrive in a VUCA world. Two-by-two matrix similar to the performance curve with people under or over stretched both being distressed / stressed. Plodding is not stretched, or Flourishing when we’re at our best – Eustress place – healthy pressure and healthy mental wellbeing.
Next for me a case study from GSK with Sally Bonneywell, VP Coaching.
GSK – pharma, vaccines, consumer healthcare – large, complex and with a long history of M&A activity over the years. recently sold oncology to Avartis and bought their vaccines business. It felt like we were “taking out our heart” and that had to be allowed to be heard because that was people’s reality.
Post-lunch keynote from Anthony Kasozi about Complexity, Contradiction, Connection and Collaboration.
We know tomorrow the sun is going to rise, but then our bus doesn’t arrive so we can’t get to the work we had planned.
As we live and work in this incredibly predictable and unpredictable word. The unpredictability creates a sense of unease, as Hetty talked about this morning. At our best we rise to the challenge. At our worst we become fearful and frustrated.
Here at the Coaching at work Conference 2016 and the opening keynote is with Hetty Einzig about green trees and VUCA.
Hetty’s starting by acknowledging that coaching is still a young profession and in an ever-moving environment we need to maintain a good capacity to think to help others make meaning. And an explanation of VUCA. Volatile. Uncertain – Even so-called stable institutions can feel woobly in the recent changes – long-standing businesses, government, religion – what do we believe in now? What are our reference points? Where are our rocks?. Complex – entangled and entwined, or intertwangled. Ambiguous – what we first see might not be the whole picture, there’s ambiguity in orgs that stops us seeing the whole or being connected. If we don’t feel part of something, connected, it can trigger our threat response.
Last week at the CIPD Learning & Development Show I attended one of the free exhibition sessions with David Pearl of Street Wisdom.
Street Wisdom is an amazing way of using your surroundings to help you answer a question you hold. Getting out into the streets either somewhere you know, or somewhere new, looking up, paying attention, and seeing what thoughts appear from what your attention is drawn to.
A friend shared this with me today. Her political leanings being very much on the side of Corbyn and despairing at what she saw as Cameron’s arrogant attitude. But this post isn’t about which side of the fence you sit on or which leader you favour. This is about cultural norms. The way we do things round here. And how blind we can be to how we are.