Helena Clayton Newsletter - View this email in your browser
Leadership Coach • Facilitator • Writer
Welcome to the December Newsletter

I'm researching and writing about love and the role that it could or should play in our organisations. In my leadership and OD development and coaching work, I see that many organisations are loveless places where people are fearful, anxious and stressed. I'm not ok with that. And I believe that love is the strong medicine that is needed for tough times.

So we need to develop a deep and new understanding of what love means, what it looks like and how we cultivate it. We need a way of seeing love as practical and useful for these tricky times we're in. We also need to be bold in doing that.

This Newsletter shares a little of what I'm researching, learning, thinking and writing about, as well as details of upcoming events I'm running or speaking at. I hope you enjoy it and find stimulation and interest here.

Helena x

  • A write-up of a powerful one-day workshop exploring the relationship between Love and Organisation Development that's just as relevant for leaders
  • An extraordinary TEDTalk that has greatly influenced my thinking about love and what's required of us
  • A possible date for your diary next year if you fancy some stimulating thinking
  • Details of upcoming events and workshops in 2020
For more information please see below or visit my website. If you have any questions please do get in touch.
Exploring Love and Organisation Development (OD)
On 4 November I ran a one day workshop for OD Network Europe (ODNE) with around 30 Organisation Development practitioners from across the public and private sectors exploring the relationship between Love and OD.
Taking my research as a jumping off point we talked about things like: what might the social and global responsibility of OD be now, in the face of a climate emergency and increasing divisions between people in the world - and what role might love have to play in that? What is going on beneath the surface in organisations that means love is pretty much taboo? What might we do as practitioners to bring a more radical agenda to our organisations? It's all very well saying we believe in more love for our organisations, but what does that actually mean in practice and are we willing and able to do what's required?

These questions and many more are as relevant as a set of topics for leaders as they are for OD practitioners. You can see for yourself in the write-up 
Meaning Conference
I also ran a half day workshop as part of the Meaning Conference Fringe.  Do you know Meaning Conference?  Focused on 'doing better business' it's an unmoveable date in my diary each year as I never fail to be inspired by the speakers amd workshops. This year's highlight was taking part in a Citizen's Assembly and hearing from Maff Potts about the amazing work he does in creating spaces (in libraries and train stations...) where people can sit on a sofa and just talk, to powerful effect.

And the reason I inlcude this in a Newsletter about Love is that SO many of the speakers - whether it was Clare Farrell of Extinction Rebellion talking about system change, Nilofer Merchant talking about the importance of finding our 'onlyness' - so many of them mentioned love as being at the heart of what they do, or that love was driving the changes they wanted to make in the world.

My research showed that using the word love is deeply problematic and sometimes for good reason.  But I think we are starting to hear the word more and more. I had coffee this week with someone who came to the OD and Love event. She says that as she has started to use the word love openly in her business (she's the CEO) then she is noticing that her Chair has also started to. He used the word love twice recently and she says he would NEVER have done that before. Some of our politicians have started to talk about love. Jacinda Adern in NZ, for example, but also much closer to home with UK exMP Rory Stewart saying that it's love that will heal the many ways that we are currently divided and Jeremy Corbyn talking about the importance of 'decency and love'. One of things my research respondents said when asked 'what difference would more love make to your organisation' was that it would be contagious and that it would spread. I think that's starting to happen.

So, take a look at Meaning for next year.  It's about doing business better but it's also about love. It's in Brighton on 12 November. And I'll be there, counting the number of times love is mentioned :-)
Revolutionary Love with Valarie Kaur
In my research, I purposely resisted starting with a definition of love, preferring to see what came from the respondents.  What came through clearly in the data was that people had no difficulty saying what love looked like in practice.  They used words like care, compassion and empathy, listening and acceptance.  I can't fault any of that and yet it seems to me that love is all those things and also something more.  I have started using the term 'radical acceptance' as a working definition of love because it feels to me that love requires a LOT of us.  A lot more of us than compassion or empathy does. 

It requires, maybe, that we sacrifice our need to be right, or our own interests.  We have to let go of particular attachments we might have to how we think things should be. It often takes a radical shift within us. It requires that we love not only those who are like us but also those who are not, who hold views we find very difficult or who might have hurt us.  The therapist Erich Fromm says that loving our friends and family is no achievement at all and it's the 'others' who we need to choose to love. 

So this TEDTalk by the Sikh activist Valarie Kaur is one of those things I came across that really got me to challenge my own thinking about who I loved and 'who is the person I am choosing not to love'.  Take a look and let me know what it brought up for you.
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Upcoming Events
For full details on both these events and all other upcoming events, articles/interviews please visit my website by clicking here...
In 2020, I have several events and workshops coming up with dates and details to follow soon. These include:
  • February: a half day workshop with a friend and colleague whose work is all about our relationship with time.  Together we'll be looking at how a better understanding of how we think about love and about time can influence the way we lead. 
  • 20 February: speaking at a Housing Association Leadership Conference
  • April: a workshop at the OD Network Europe Conference
  • 30 April: speaking at a Public Sector People Management Conference
  • 12 June: speaking at a Higher Education conference
Let's Connect
If the idea of love in organisations interests you (or more interestingly if you think that love doesn't have a place in organisations...) come and explore it with me. You could hold a Learning Lunch session for your team on the role love might play in leadership - or run my 'Leading from Love' survey in your organisation. You might welcome a 1:1 session to explore your own relationship with love. Or take part in one of my Action Inquiry groups, exploring love in the workplace. Whatever, please do get in touch as I'd welcome the chance to explore this with you further.

Beyond that my leadership development work is all about conversations and relationships and building programmes that really open partcipants eyes to new ways of seeing and working. Whether you're interested in finding out more about that, want some good books recommendations, or can share your own experiences of developing leadership, it would be good to hear from you. I'm social too so you can follow me on
Twitter and LinkedIn or connect via email. Or call me of course, whichever suits. I'd love to be in touch with you because who knows where a connection might lead.

Helena x

Email: helena@helenaclayton.co.uk
Call: 07771 358 881
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