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It’s safe to say that there’s a lot of noise that leaderships teams are confronted with and a lot of triaging to determine what needs to be stay on the exec’s desk and what can reasonably be delegated somewhere else in the organisation.

In today’ podcast I’m joined by two dear friends and colleagues, Bryan Sampson and Pauline Holland as we riff on the challenges that leadership teams are facing and how we best offer help and support to these teams.

With more disruption, complexity and noise, we all agree that the quality of conversations that leadership teams are able to have determines how well they’re able to deal with these pressures.

But there are also challenges in executive teams being able to take the time to have more expansive, sensemaking conversations. How can this be resolved?

If you like to find out more about how Waldencroft could help your executive team, please reach out to us here

In today’s podcast I’m joined by two dear friends and colleagues, Bryan Sampson and Pauline Holland who have deep experience in working with senior leaders and teams as they grapple with the complexities of leading today.

Both Pauline and Bryan, in addition to having their own practices, are Associate consultants in Waldencroft and are a core part of our community of practice.

In this episode, we talk about the sheer volume of stuff that’s coming at leaders and the need to create new criteria for deciding what they deal with and what should go elsewhere and the central importance of senior teams engaging in different types of conversations as the place to do their leadership work.

I opened the conversation up by asking them both to reflect on what they’re each experiencing in their work at the moment, what’s live.


Bryan Sampson  00:38

So I’m happy to start on that question. Because one of the things, one of the themes I’m seeing is just information overload, and a real clash of priorities. And so I think many of the teams and leaders I’m working with are just sort of struggling with this. If I’m saying yes to this, what do I need to say no to? And am I really clear that my criteria for saying yes, over A not B is the right one. So really, just helping individuals and groups just really prioritise, you know. How do they, I guess the analogy of a firewall can sometimes be useful. So what what’s the what’s the criteria that allows things to come in? What’s the criteria that stops things coming in? Because without that, you know, there’s a lot of distraction for leaders at the moment.

Jacqueline Conway  01:34

And what do what are they using? What is the firewall? Is the criteria there? Or are they having to create that live in the moment as things are coming at them?

Bryan Sampson  01:45

Well, that’s the thing. That’s a lot of the conversations we’re having, which is, is there a firewall? Do you know what that criteria is? And is it the right one? And when you start unpacking that, I think that’s when you start to get some really interesting dialogue going on to say, well, you know, the criteria that we use to make our decisions and prioritise is quite out a date now. You know, the situation has changed, we as leaders need to change as well. So just helping a team or indeed, an individual leader, just have that awareness and that dialogue as a collective, and then being able to rewrite that I think, is driving a lot of value for people at the moment.

Jacqueline Conway  02:26

Pauline, what are you finding?

Pauline Holland  02:29

I think similarly, what’s on my mind, as I’m thinking about the question, Jacqueline is, the amount of noise that individual leaders or leadership teams are having to deal with and how they see or make sense of what really needs that attention, I think similar to what Brian was saying. So, I’m finding more and more resorting to trying to help them just to create some space to slow down a bit, and to be in conversation with each other about what is showing up and how do they make sense of that together. So it feels like that part of what they need more than anything at the moment is space to think, and preferably to think together, because it’s also, I think, quite, you know, whether you’re the chief exec or you’re at that leadership team, it’s very isolating I think a lot of times just trying to make sense of on their own. So there’s conversations that they can have together to, to talk about what’s happening, and how they can make sense of it and work out what really needs attention. And I think also, I think what you speak about a lot Jacqueline, and your work is balancing the here-and-now with what’s coming down the lane and trying to think past the immediate as well. But that balance seems quite important for them to wrestle with.

Jacqueline Conway  03:52

But don’t you think that’s actually the challenge is finding the time to do that. So very often, I’m in conversation with senior leaders who they want to do that. They’re saying we need this time. And then you open up the calendars and it’s like, alright, we can do that in four months. And so, there’s well, how do they create the space and I suppose that then goes back, Bryan to your point around what comes in what’s allowed to come in and what isn’t, what’s immediate and fought is much longer term that we create the space to kind of think about and give ourselves a different sort of well, it’s it requires a different sort of thinking space, doesn’t it to do that much more sense making type of work than the sort of operational day to day busyness?

Bryan Sampson  04:48

And on that, I think there’s an I’m not sure where it’s coming from, but the expectation of leaders is definitely increasing has definitely gone up. And I think individuals and groups of leaders are really feeling that, and in a sense, perhaps trying to be all things to all people. And so the cloudiness around their responsibility is becoming is less clear what that is. And so what I’m also seeing is that some leadership teams are actually tackling, discussing things that should sit elsewhere in the organisation. So, you know, to Pauline’s point around noise, you know, trying to find the real signal hidden within the noise is becoming very, very difficult. And I think, in part is because there’s so much more pressure on leaders to be a certain way, you know, obviously, doing the right things, and also, obviously, keeping the business running, transforming it, looking after people looking after well-being, you know, there’s huge amounts that now fall at the feet of a leader in terms of being and doing, and I think that that’s causing a lot of tension for individuals and, of course, leadership groups.

Pauline Holland  05:56

I agree, Jacqueline, I think the point about making time, I think is, is fundamental. What came to mind, as you were saying that there was one of the leaders I’ve been working with recently, and actually a sense of, like guilt, as if somehow it’s an indulgence to actually, you know, mark out some time for herself to be able to think about, and to reflect with another person perhaps was a bit more removed from the work. But I think I see that with the leadership teams as well, that there’s that pressure of knowing the time, just to be together and to be in conversation about what’s happening. They know, and my experience that it is really valuable, but somehow it feels like it’s an indulgence of some kind at the same time. So, I think kind of getting that clear in their mind that it’s actually part of the leadership work as marking time and thinking things through and working, working through a decision I think is really quite key.

Jacqueline Conway  07:06

You know, that’s what both of you’re seeing really resonates. And I’ve got one little example of where it’s not just what is going on for the leader thinking that that’s important. But the assumption they have of what other people make of them taking that time away. Because I did some work with an executive team and we were doing, looking at the sort of team that they needed to be to meet the challenges that the organisation was facing in a very disrupted environment, a very disrupted industry. And they realised that they needed to elevate their leadership. And yet, over the course of a number of months, we were working with them, they were feeling the gravitational pull back to that kind of what we would call it in-and-down and the here-and-now, so very much the kind of operational functional day to day stuff. And when we really tried to explore what were the hidden assumptions that they had, that was stopping them from stepping up, that we realised that one of the things that was a barrier for them was the thought that them taking that time away and allowing the next level downs of properly delegating it to the next level down, would result in people in the organisation saying “what are that executive team doing? They’re too remote. And they’re all having a jolly”…  and all sorts of kind of pejorative terms that they were using, that they assumed that other people would think about them, if the became focused more on the up-and-out and the there-and-then, as I would say. So it’s not just like what’s going on for them, but also that, you know, that sort of who’s watching? And what are the people that are watching making of it? I mean, Have either of you experienced that?

Pauline Holland  09:07

Well, I think so. A couple of teams I’ve been working with recently, actually, interestingly, one of the topics that’s then come up for conversation is, you know, what do we share with others about what we’re doing in this room when we come together? And actually, that’s been, I think, really helpful. It’s not something that’s that separate from the work. It’s not something that’s discrete, but actually it is part and parcel of the work. So how do they talk with others in the organisation about it, and help them to see that actually, this is part of what they need to be doing this as the role actually in the organisation both in terms of keeping it running, but also look into the future and all the threats and opportunities that are coming away. So partly, it’s about taking the time out to make space to think about that. And yeah, I think people in the organisation, when they hear about it, and understand what’s happening in those rooms, then my sense is they appreciate it the value it, and they see it very much as part of what they are there to do.

Bryan Sampson  10:19

Yeah, I agree with all of that and one of the things that I’ve also noticed is that, because of the circumstances, the environment right now, there’s a lot of organisations restructuring. And then there’s a lot of people moving in moving out of positions. And for an individual leader, I mean, occasionally we talk about leaders, but forget that they’re actually human, human beings, you know, they’re people. So of course, they want to protect their livelihood, their status, and all of those things as well. So going back to what Pauline was saying about sharing our vulnerabilities in a certain space, I think there is less willingness to do that, because of the consequence of sharing, or saying, “Actually, I need help over here”. And it’s not to do with the operational stuff I don’t need, you know, me as an individual, I’ve got some things that are on my mind, that I’m not able to, to speak to anyone about, I’m not able to sort of clear on my own at the moment. So there’s quite a lot of protectionism, I think, happening that that I’m seeing. And that’s understandable. I mean, there’s certainly a lot of uncertainty around at the moment and I think that’s affecting people’s confidence. So again, I’ve seen more people come to me for advice or conversations around:  “I’m not sure I deserve this role. You know, I’m not sure I’m the right person. And when I look at some of my colleagues and peers, there’s a degree of threat there, because I know that they could equally do it as well, if not better than me, but I need this job, I need this role”. And I think there’s something quite survival, you know, the survival instincts kick in at that point and  then it’s really difficult to be a team, and then start to force the group into being a group rather than a team as in it’s just a group of individual people connected by some sort of structure and system, rather than it being a true team.

Jacqueline Conway  12:11

Absolutely. And of course, you can imagine that when people are operating like that, they’re operating from a much more kind of primitive part of the brain, you know, that they’re, they’re activating the flight or fight response, when they’re coming from a kind of stress or need place where it’s like, oh, I need this job. And therefore, they’re much less likely to, to make decisions and to be able to kind of appraise what’s going on, in a really in a really effective way. Because in actual fact, what we know about the brain is that it shuts down the executive functioning part, you know, the prefrontal cortex, the executive functioning part of our brain, when we’re under when we’re under under stress and pressure. So just when executives need it most, you know, they’re the least able to kind of tap into the resources that are inherently within them. And we know that the antidote to that is community don’t we, you know, that, that when you experience it, and community with other leaders, and other people say, I feel the same way that immediately, kind of lets you sort of exhale, drop your shoulders and think, right, okay, I’m safe now. And then immediately can bring online, you know, that part of your capacity to think in a different way.

Pauline Holland  13:38

But, but also, I’m thinking about that kind of individual experience and how helpful it is for then leaders and their peers in the team to be able to think about what their individual experience tells them or make, tell them about what’s happening in the wider system. So if find themselves in a kind of survival mode, then that that’s surely true for their system as a whole by and large. So being able to voice it and think about it together, then start to identify what as their task at this point in time was is a different way of thinking about the hidden knows it’s not just an operational here-and-now but it’s what is it that’s required of us now,  at this moment in time, and things are so under pressure, so uncertain, as well as looking towards the future and how you might navigate your way there.

Jacqueline Conway  14:38

I love that Pauline. And I absolutely 100% agree. And do you think that’s part of the challenge is that helping leaders to see issues that they think of as individual as being contextual you know. As you know, I’m always kind of seeing context is important you know, and, and if you’re in a deeply stressed so system and you’re feeling deeply stressed, then you’re carrying something for the system, it might not just be what’s going on for you as you’re saying. But how would the leaders overcome that then?

Pauline Holland  15:15

Well, I think what triggered it for me in the first place there, Jacqueline was your reference to community. So I think part of overcoming it is one acknowledging it, and being able to speak to it. And to ask the question, what might this be about? And not to assume it is just like an a personal or private experience of actually feeling confident, or unconfident or whatever, but what may it tell us about what’s going on? And then what does that mean in terms of what’s being asked of me or of us in terms of leadership? And I just find when the conversation starts to shift in that direction, again, you get that kind of just easing up the tension, and something opens up where there’s a different kind of inquiry, a different kind of conversation takes place. Yeah.

Bryan Sampson  16:11

I just like to join on that rally. Because if we use if we use team as a proxy for community, you know, sometimes it can really generate an interesting conversation with an individual or group. So, you know, Which team are you in? Are you in the team that you’re leading? Are you in the team, which is your peers, because very often, if you think about one layer below the senior team, very often, the team leader believes that their team is the team that they’re leading. And sometimes that can be a helpful perspective or frame of mind, sometimes it can be a hindrance. So even just asking, “Which team are you actually, in? Which one? Are you in? Which one? Do you need to be in sometimes? And how do you switch between player player coach, you know, what is your leadership architectural kind of archetypal role? You know? And do you really have the skills capability and willingness to develop the team, so that it is coached and performing appropriately for the future?

Jacqueline Conway  17:12

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And, I mean, I see that quite a lot. And I think one of the reasons that I see that the, the peak is perilous, you know, that leaders are operating at a perilous peak is in actual fact, because they are too identified with their functional teams, they are too identified as being the leader of their particular pillar in the organisation. And paradoxically, by being by remaining focused in the area where they are most competent at the moment, because that’s where they’ve been, that’s where they’ve got their expertise and their professionalism from is, is actually the thing that puts the organisation at risk. And so they stay in that place very often, because they’re comfortable in that place. And we all know that there’s always plenty to do there. And yet, what the organisation needs is for them to step into their enterprise leadership and step into a place where the, it’s always much more ambiguous, it’s much more complex, the answers are much less straightforward and the level of responsibility is, is much, much deeper. And therefore, people who are operating from a place of just on a day to day basis, not consciously thinking about it, then it’s easy to revert to where it feels much more comfortable, rather than to deliberately put yourself into the place where you don’t necessarily have the answers and the people in the team or, you know, in your executive team, perhaps are a bit more challenging, because everybody’s grappling with this challenge of how to how to balance the kind of functional and the enterprise.

Pauline Holland  19:02

Yeah, I think that is one of the must be one of the real challenges at that executive level. Because I guess what we’re acknowledging as both and isn’t it? So you know, they do, they do have their own teams and departments and divisions, etc, that they are responsible for need to take care of, but the they are also members of this executive level or enterprise level. So I think that’s a, you know, in itself a really interesting conversation, how do you, how do you take care of or be part of both? And what’s that, like? And what are some of the tensions that throws up? And how can you work with the tensions because that you know, that will never go away. By its nature, that are tensions, they’re competing for resources, etc. So I think even just starting to have the conversation about both those things and how it pulls people in different direction and how do you have both? Yeah, it’s a really interesting conversation.

Jacqueline Conway  20:04

Yeah, absolutely couldn’t agree more it is about both. And the, the dominant place that people tend to reside in my experience as more and more functional, and therefore more deliberate attention needs to be given to the enterprise. Because when, I mean, one of the things that we’ve seen, even just recently, in some of the work that we’re doing is teams who are able to sink in to those really good conversations, when you take them on retreat, and you create a different space for different sorts of conversations, and relationally, the team do quite different things with each other, you know, they’re able to bring a level of authenticity to the conversation that they perhaps haven’t been able to do in the workplace. That’s all well and good, but then you go back to the workplace, and that gravitational pool kind of sucks them back. And so it seems to me that the where as they need to have a balance of both, the development actually is more towards the enterprise, because of the gravitational pull back towards the functional.

Pauline Holland  21:13

No, yeah, I think you’re spot one, Jacqueline.

Bryan Sampson  21:17

And, you know, I think something else in this space, because we were talking around community is that if you’re if you’re considering yourself to be the leader, and the leader of your functional sort of pillar, then it’s really difficult to confuse, you know, where do you go to, to kind of voice and ventilate, because to do with your own team that you’re leading can sometimes have ripple effects. So where’s your space where you can go and say, or talk about anything without an agenda or judgement or evaluation? So it’s really difficult to do that, if you if you’re not connected to some sort of community. And I think some organisations are more adept at doing that, you know, do much more kind of skillfully, some, some organisations don’t do that. I think and, and I think there’s, there’s potential issues for individual leaders and their well being and mental health, if they’re unable to connect with people in a similar situation. And to talk about things quite raw.

Jacqueline Conway  22:20

When you say some are more adept at Do you have any examples of when you might not want to mention the organization’s name, but any examples of methodologies or approaches that work really well.

Bryan Sampson  22:37

I mean, so one of the things I’ve seen is that there are, there’s a small group of plants that I’m working with organisations that I’ve been working with that have focused on psychological safety, and really kind of fostering that in a, in a really genuine way, rather than just something we espouse and talk about. But the difference is, rather than creating psychological safety through certainty, what they’ve really tried to do is get their teams and leaders and the rest of their staff comfortable with discomfort. And, you know, there’s no easy way to do sometimes it’s just that constant exposure, you know, it makes it much more kind of familiar. And so those teams that have invested quite a lot of time in this, I think it’s time to reap the rewards, so that their psychological safety isn’t fragile. So as soon as the certainty is taken away, the psychological safety goes away. Whereas if you can anchor psychological safety, in an environment where we are things are uncertain. But if we take three steps down the road, and we fail, the first three steps, you know, that’s value, adding, the fact that we didn’t meet the outcome, okay, we accept that. But it’s not about seeing failure as an absolute is about recognising the case that we didn’t make the outcome. But we have learned some valuable things. And having quite a mature organisational environment that is focused on the willingness and the desire to kind of share and openly kind of experiment and talk about this, I think is, is probably the differentiation, for me is the differentiation between teams and individuals that are willing to experiment with quite an open mindset. And those that are really quite keen to protect the status quo because it’s certain, and it’s clear to them.

Jacqueline Conway  24:29

But when you were saying earlier about leaders, where do they do that fairly senior leaders, you know, because of the event within their, within their own pillar within their kind of functional area, then that that can and I agree with you absolutely have ripples. So, is there a separate mechanism for senior leaders to be able to do that? That works best do you find or does that happen best within the executive team more? Is it one to one coaching is it you know? How, like, just Practically, how does it happen?

Bryan Sampson  25:04

Yeah, well, you know, I think obviously the employment of one to one coach provides that about anything is the entire solution. I think there is, I think it’s just worth recognising that teams can generate this for themselves. And you know, earlier, Pauline was talking about the value of kind of dialogue. And, and I think just holding space for a team so that they get more familiar with self-facilitating some of these conversations. I think that’s really where the value added is for kind of self-sustaining improvements.

Pauline Holland  25:37

Yeah, I mean, again, I just keep coming back to, I think that this point about, if you can get the executive team in the room, to recognise that the conversations about how things are, you know, as well as how you might want them to be, but how they are the good, the bad, and the ugly, then the more they’re able to speak about that, that again, go back to your point, Bryan about psychological safety, that comes for me, based on the fact that they’re talking about the real work, the real tat, and the real time, but actually how it really is for them. And there’s something that that builds their collective capacity to stay with the uncertainty of it, too. And somehow, in those conversations, you get the breakthroughs or the insights into what an experiment or trying something might actually look like. But it comes from, in my experience, quite a different place. I don’t really I don’t really know how to articulate that. But it’s, it’s not an entirely cerebral or cognitive thing. But it’s, it’s kind of slowing things down sufficiently to be curious to recognise and acknowledge the difficulties of it. But somehow just being in the conversations together, then people get insights about, well, this just might be worth trying. And there’s a sense of sort of supporting that endeavour to test something out. What else can you do when you suddenly don’t know what to do?

Jacqueline Conway  27:18

Yeah, and I’m still left with I’ve experienced teams being able to do that, when you are there as a facilitator, a team coach, and you heal and you’ve taken them on retreat somewhere, and they’re out of the normal context. And so there are different set of conditions for them to be able to sink into that. And of course, they have to learn how to do it in that safe place before they then can go back to the organisation and do it there. But I guess the bit that I’m really grappling with in my practice, just now is how do you really help them do that once they’re back in the hustle and bustle, and the challenge of the everyday, where, and what I’m reminded of is, is the idea of liberating structures, you know, where you create structures in the organisation that allow for different sorts of conversations  And how rare that is, within an executive team’s cadence of meetings, where they have a weekly or bi weekly meeting that has a kind of 42 point item. And it’s like, well, you know, and then they say, “we’ve not been able to reproduce, you know, that quality of conversation again, Jacqueline, you know, what’s the problem?” And, and it’s that idea of we will, do we really expect that to be able to happen when you’re really rattling through such a lot, which actually speaks to Brian, one of your very early points in this conversation about what ought to be doing, you know, should they be doing everything that’s on that 42 point agenda, or actually are only five of them, really, the responsibility of the executive team and the rest of it should be delegated and the more appropriate level in the organisation, and when you’ve got five things to discuss in an hour, then there’s a greater chance that you’re able to have a more expansive conversation and sink into that curiosity Pauline that you’re talking about, than in those kinds of meetings where, I guess governance wise, I just, I think that the structures that have been set up in organisations are the opposite of liberating structures, they are stultifying structures, and therefore, unless you help the team grapple with or change some of those structural components, then inevitably they go back. They don’t reap the full benefit. I mean, they get some of the benefits but they find themselves back to where they were because the structures within their own organisational context, don’t really allow or enable them to kind of have different sorts of conversations.

Bryan Sampson  30:12

Yeah, I’m reminded of the James Clear who wrote atomic habits, I think, and I’m paraphrasing, but he’s saying that we tend to fall to the level of our habits rather than rise to the level of our goals. And, you know, so for me, there is something in what you said that Jacqueline around, the difference that makes a difference is really how disciplined the team can be and the habits that it starts to put in place. And if the if a team is having an environment, which is really quite productive, really quite enjoyable, really quite value adding off site and out of the system, you know, what are some of the mechanisms that it can put in place that can help establish the habits and establish the disciplining until it does become a bit more kind of familiar and behaviourally kind of normalised?

Pauline Holland  31:01

Yeah, I like that. I like that quote, James Clear one, Bryan. I’m thinking also about the, in the survey simply, and I can a governance meeting structure can a process, sometimes it’s been helpful for senior teams to identify two different patterns of meetings. So you know, one where it is very agenda focused, because not to do that would just increase the anxiety, but then to intersperse those with meetings that have no agenda, there might be shorter but the regularity of that as well, I think then starts to create. So there are there are some changes that do have to be made. And conversation in itself is isn’t enough. So you know, what are the small changes that can start to make that creates a different a different kind of rhythm in the types of conversations that they’re having?

Jacqueline Conway  31:56

Indeed, indeed? And of course, that’s why we work with what we call cadence, isn’t it? You know, so, you know, you have, you have a cadence that allows for those very operationally focused meetings that because a lot of work needs to get done there. But it’s not the only thing. And it is made up of different things. So, we’ve got one team just now that we’ve just been working with who have made a commitment to each other to have a monthly breakfast meeting. So, before the working day starts, you know, they sit down together, they break bread together, it has an informality because they’re slightly distant from the office, you know, they’re close enough that they can be there in a few minutes. But, and, but the fact that they’re off-site, they’re able to have different sorts of fun, and they’re, you know, they’re sitting around a table together, just remind them that they’re in a different space. And I am going to be kind of watching with great interest to see what emerges from that quite different space that that particular team creates.

Pauline Holland  33:02

It’s interesting, though, isn’t that some, well what’s in my head, let me put it this way that it feels like somehow conversation is, is I can’t quite find the language at the moment. But it’s one down from business, as if somehow the two things are separate. And I’m reminded of a piece by David White, you know, the poet and author, and he tells a story of an executive who had brought his son to work one day, and he was running this team meeting and at the end of it in front of his team, he said to son, so son, what do you think of how things work around here? And he said something like, well, all you do is talk. I don’t see anything happening, nothing got done. And don’t if it was David White or the chief exec himself, who then said, No, but the conversation IS the work, you know, and I think at times, we really miss that we miss the significance of that I think in organisational life, it’s as if the conversation is some preparation for the work, but actually, it’s also the work.

Bryan Sampson  34:10

I really like that. And, you know, just to build on that, sometimes I’m working with a team, and it’s a mistake, the measure they use for the effectiveness of the team intervention is the quality or the amount of outputs. And sometimes you go occasionally, you just need to hold space to have dialogue and, you know, the idea of unstructured stretch of time as in we just hold the space, the agendas free, what’s most useful for you to talk about right now, rather than getting to the end of the day and everyone having three or four actions each and you know, there being a work stream setup and, you know, so it doesn’t feel like a project, you know, sorry, sorry, if it doesn’t feel like a project for people if it doesn’t feel like there’s milestones and measures and actions, then there’s a mistake. Well, where was the value in that?  And then sometimes you really have to work quite hard to say, well, you know, the value was in that discussion in that in the raising of your collective awareness around that topic. Sometimes I noticed that in teams.

Jacqueline Conway  35:14

Yeah. I mean, I notice that so often, and when you’re asking for feedback about how it’s gone, you know, the two big things that seem to come up, you know, when the feedback, when there’s a kind of what could have been better is where was the detailed agenda at the beginning? And, and the success of the day being, to your point, Brian, absolutely. You know, where, you know, that the amount of tangible action points that the team generated. Yeah, and it’s, it’s how do you, how do you work with that? And of course, as a, as a person who facilitates those kinds of conversations, you know, how do you not get drawn into that, and seduced by the kind of getting a better getting better feedback, even though you know, that that’s maybe not what the team absolutely needs.

Bryan Sampson  36:07

And sort of building on that, I think there’s something around the team’s leader fully understanding their role, once the team coaching programme stops. So occasionally, there’s the situations I’ve seen and clearly named the clients but where it’s almost like, the facilitator has the responsibility for the team’s performance and development. And then therefore, the team leader, stands back and just goes, well, you know, it’s no longer my responsibility. Whereas, you know, that that’s often the wrong way to think about it, or, you know, an unhelpful way to think about it b because many times if you speak to the leader of the team and say, you know, what’s the team development plan you have in place? You know, what are the priorities are you thinking of, and, you know, in the same way, that we have personal development plans for individuals, we very rarely use the same mechanism or technique at the team. And I think sometimes, the leaders of teams maybe just divorce their own responsibility for the development of the team rather than kind of embracing it, which I think is, is a lovely alternative.

Jacqueline Conway  37:18

I love that. And I do see that too, I do see where the leader may. I mean, early in the process, the facilitator does want to kind of take that role, don’t they? And, and also, to allow the leader of the team chief executive, whoever that might be, to just be in the conversation. But then there’s been there’s a point at which you have to kind of give it back. And that’s, that is a critical part in the process, isn’t it? Where they have to, they have to accept it from you again, and then take that forward because of course, it doesn’t serve anyone with us being in there forever, you know, we have to the work has to come to an end.

Pauline Holland  38:07

Yeah, I guess maybe in the process of the work, there’s something about and it kind of helping everyone to notice, what they’re noticing, you know, so what is it there’s different about these conversations, when a facilitator is present, for example? And so how, then do you build that into your practices, so that it’s almost like a double task, there’s the work you’re working on, and there’s the how you’re working on that work, and just building that awareness and consciousness. I think the more explicit we can be together about what’s happening, then it becomes something that the whole team, as well as perhaps a team leader, or the chief exec kind of takes responsibility for trying to pay attention to after the facilitators exited.


I hope you enjoyed this fly-on-the-wall conversation as the three of us reflected on our practice.

There’s a lot in there about our approach so please reach out if you’d like to find out more about how we work with executive teams to create a new meeting cadence for teams to have different and effective conversations.

There’s a link to the contact page in the show-notes if you’d like to arrange a conversation.

Waldencroft Podcast

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What’s required from Executive Leaders has changed. Find out how executive leaders and executive teams can survive and thrive in our disrupted world. Interviews with CEOs and insights from Waldencroft’s Dr Jacqueline Conway.

By Jacqueline Conway…

Dr Jacqueline Conway works with CEOs and executive teams as they fully step into their collective enterprise-wide leadership, helping them transform their impact and effectiveness.

Jacqueline is Waldencroft’s Managing Director. Based in Edinburgh, she works globally with organisations facing disruption in the new world of work.