My approach to leadership coaching and training draws from
Systems Psychodynamic thinking (also known as Group Relations)
Immunity to Change
Mindfulness (MBSR) practice
Systems Psychodynamics is a multi-disciplinary field that offers a way of understanding the dynamics that occur between leaders and followers in small and large groups (or systems). It draws from Open Systems Theory, which looks at the relationship between a group or system, and its environment; Psychoanalytic Theory, which looks at unconscious processes and defense mechanisms; and the work of Wilfred Bion, which describes the different ways that groups can behave irrationally, which he called Basic Assumptions.
The Adaptive Leadership approach (developed by Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky, 2009) is also rooted in Systems Psychodynamics thinking and emphasizes reflective practice (“Getting on the Balcony”). In this model, Leadership can come from anywhere in an organization (from the front line to the C-Suite) and is about helping a group face its adaptive challenges. Adaptive challenges are those for which we don’t yet have the solutions—they require learning on everyone’s part.
It builds on Systems Psychodynamic thinking by offering a Networked approach to thinking about the eco-systems in which we are all located. Eco-Leadership involves creating collaborative structures and networks.
Eco-Leadership is a term coined by Simon Western (2019) to describe a new leadership paradigm that emerged at the end of the 21st century. It is a way of thinking and practicing leadership to address the disruptive social, environmental and technological changes taking place in the world today.
The Immunity to Change Model offers a way to operationalize the notion of defense mechanisms, that is the unconscious ways that we tend to avoid facing difficult feelings, behaviors or dynamics, which can interfere with achieving our goals.
Mindfulness is defined as “moment to moment awareness, without judgment.” Mindfulness practice can help leaders become more self-aware and aware of their environment (organization and other systems impacting them). This is an essential skill for leadership practice. Mindfulness is one way to develop such awareness. It is not about stopping thoughts, relaxing, or positive thinking. It is about taking a step back from the everyday noise of the organization (getting on the balcony), and thinking about what is really going on. These ways of thinking are embedded in all the work I do.