All my work is shaped by two key disciplines, Dialogue and Leadership Embodiment. Most leadership is enacted through the medium of conversation – whether meetings, presentations or one-to-ones. Yet many of us don’t pay attention to the ‘how’ of our conversations – we focus on the ‘what’. The practices of dialogue prompt us to consider the shape and quality of our conversations and to pay attention to the conditions in which they take place. The practices of Leadership Embodiment challenge us to notice how we carry ourselves in our conversations and to steward our energy and demeanour to positive effect. Together, these fields combine to be a profound interest in embodying dialogue practices, providing a foundation for everything I do.
In all my work I seek to balance support and challenge to create a healthy environment for growth. I see this balance as dynamic in nature, adapting to circumstances over time. For example, if a client is being hard on themselves, I will offer support and affirmation. If a client is resting on their laurels, I will invite them to stretch. Over time, we may have sessions that are primarily tough love and others that offer shelter from the storm.
Minding the gap…
In my work, I’m privileged to walk alongside leaders and practitioners as they struggle to make good choices in an increasingly complex world. I’m inspired by the questions they raise and the care they bring to reflecting on their thinking, words and actions. And, in my own learning, I’ve become acutely aware that the greatest growth often arises from the ‘gap’ between my aspirations and my ability to live up to them.
Over time, I’ve come to believe that personal development isn’t about acquiring more knowledge, tools and techniques. Instead, it rests on increasing our capacity to put what we know into practice, especially when the chips are down. Our ability to contribute skilfully and effectively, as leaders and human beings, is determined by our character and the quality of our motivation. This inner spirit flavours what we say and do, influencing everything in our field. Supporting clients to anchor their choices within this inner spirit is at the heart of my approach.
I try to live and work ethically – by which I mean doing the right thing for others as well as for myself, as often as I can. When puzzling or difficult circumstances arise, I take time to examine my motivation and set clear intentions for the way I respond.
I believe that I work with integrity and the principles of confidentiality and respect are key to this. I’m strongly guided by the ethical codes of the bodies that have accredited me: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), The Association for Professional Executive Coaching and Supervision (APECS) and the Coaching Supervision Academy (CSA). I also pay attention to what feels right from a Buddhist perspective.
The guidelines that I direct my clients to are those of APECS and they can be found here.
As you might expect, I am in regular supervision as I believe this to be essential for ‘keeping myself honest’ in my practice. Supervision spans my whole practice and enables me to pause and reflect. I then refine my practice in light of what I learn.
Finally, you can find my privacy notice here.
A container is a name given to the holding space for a conversation. The nature and quality of a container has a material influence on what is possible. To create a fruitful space in which to talk and listen, we can use tangible factors such as the setting and/or medium we choose, as well as nurturing a climate that supports good engagement by committing to being candid, curious and respectful. For my part, I also intend to bring the qualities of shared human-ness, clarity and spaciousness to our work.
In addition, I’ve made a clear choice about the medium I use. Since the step-changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, I mainly work by phone. I’ve thought deeply about this – and conclude that I am most able to do my best work in audio-only environments. I also believe this medium serves clients well – I’ve always preferred to meet clients away from their office to create a different kind of space for our work – and in a world dominated by audio-visual meetings via Zoom, Teams or similar platforms, a phone call offers a change of mode. Clients also report that a different part of their brain is engaged when they’re not staring at a screen and they find this both liberating and productive. You can read more about my thinking in this blog post.
All this is important to know – if you are strongly visual in your preferences, I’m not a good fit as a coach or supervisor, although I do hope you’ll consider what I’ve written. Whatever the case, I wish you well in finding a practitioner well suited to working with you.
For those who wish to meet in person, I now ask that you travel to me. For more than twenty years, I’ve been a peripatetic coach and workshop host – and I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t want to resume this kind of travel. The pandemic has prompted us all to work in ways that involve less travel – I simply intend to continue working from home!