Helena Clayton Newsletter - View this email in your browser
Leadership Developer • Facilitator • Writer

Welcome to the January 2021 Newsletter

Hello everyone, and especially new subscribers to this Newsletter. I hope you like what you find here.

This past month included a few weeks of no work over the Christmas break. I sorely needed it.  As well as time away from the laptop, I got more reading done - as well as many hours of Schitt's Creek - and that was wonderful as the last few months had been work and not much else. 

It's a time of transition for me. There was the death of my dad in September and my adjustment to no longer having any family. Obviously, the shift to a new way of working from home and really missing wider human connections (yes, even this raging introvert). Also December and January sees the end of three major and much-loved work projects that I've been involved with for many years. So I am feeling deeply connected with endings and transitions.  And on the morning of December 22, a friend and I, on our weekly 6am walk (these days with headtorches...) lit a couple of tea lights in the woods to welcome another major transition for us all -  the Solstice and the return of the light to the world. The fact that the tea lights wouldn't stay lit... well, I'm not reading too much into that! That said, I'm making no grand plans for 2021.  Let it be what it will be :-)

But going back to the reading I've been doing, it's been a renewal of my commitment to bring you here the best of what I'm reading and learning about. Always with a link to love and leadership, even if tenuous some months. With a focus on work-work-work, I had lost the time and space to share with you what's getting my juices flowing. 

So as well as reading, I've also been writing.

The first new blog is very firmly in leadership. It reflects my work with leaders this past year - in groups and 1:1 - and what I feel we need more of. I am increasingly questioning traditional forms and settings for leadership development (do we really need MBAs any more...?) and am noticing how much my coaching work increasingly supports a leader's being as opposed to their doing.

And a second piece, this one reflecting the tricky balance between focusing on self and on others when it comes to life and also to love. Any literature on love is inevitably about generosity and sacrifice but how do we not overdo that?  

As ever, let me know what you think...

So thanks for reading and for being here. And please do send this Newsletter on to anyone you think might like to subscribe. 

In the meantime, let's see what the rest of January brings us...

Helena x

Leading from Love programme update
I'm delighted to ay that I finally have a new set of dates for the next Leading from Love programme. This starts on Friday 19 March and runs for 6 sessions. Dates are Friday 19 and 26 March. Then a week off for Easter. And back for 4 more weeks Friday 9, 16, 23 and 30 April. Full details are here and if you think someone you know would be interested, please do pass it on - I'd love for word to spread about it. It's been described by previous participants as inspirational and soulful and 'a deeply thought provoking examination of what it means to be a leader and bring more love and humanity into the way we lead'. 

In addition, as part of my ongoing research, I'm looking for leaders in organisations who'd be up for a 30 min recorded conversation with me, exploring how they see and think about love in their workplace. You don't need to be doing amazing things with love - you just need to be a senior role in an organisation and have an interest in exploring love in the context of leadership. Please drop me line at helena@helenaclayton.co.uk if you think you might be interested. I'd love to talk with you.

Book recommendation
How To Do Nothing

A friend bought me How to do Nothing for Christmas, thinking that it was about working less hard and taking more time off. She was way-off. It's really a book about how caught up we are in responding compulsively and 'out of awareness' to the relentless and punishing drive for productivity. It's about how even our attention is directed and controlled. And it's about how, through art and observation, through standing back from life a little bit while staying firmly in it, we can take our attention back and direct it to where we choose. This, says the author, is a political act of refusal and an essential form of self expression. 

I read it because us was already on my wish list and because Sam bought it for me. But I'm recommending it here because it's for all those of us who aspire to be a change agent of some sort. And because it builds on Audre Lorde's words when she said 'caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation, and that’s an act of political warfare'. And because this feels like a year when many of us might want to take small and strong steps towards building the world we want and not the one we've ended up with'. As the author Jenny Odell says 'it is with acts of attention that we decide who to hear, who to see, and who in our world has agency. In this way attention forms the ground not just for love but for ethics'. And that feels like good territory to be in this year.

Book and podcast recommendation
Community and Ritual 

I took a few days off at the start of December. In a tiny gem of an Airbnb tucked between the coast and the Downs I had a mini-hibernation. A short circuit breaker. Plenty of blowy walks on the cliffs and the beach, it was hugely restorative. 

It was also a chance for me to catch up on some reading and some listening and one person featured in both. 

Casper ter Kuile has written The Power of Ritual and I loved it and highly recommend it.  Like the Jenny Odell book, it also focuses on where we direct our attention. It's about noticing ways that we already have in our lives that create meaning and connection - so that we can build on them as ways to support us further in strengthening our relationship with nature and each other and ourselves. He uses the word 'sacred'. How can we make sacred some of what we do? How can we find moments of magic in the mundane? How can we invite in joy and gratitude and rest more deeply into our lives?  I took a lot away from it especially the idea of protecting a 'sabbath' and the intriguing idea of 'sacred reading'. 

And then I listened to a series of 4 podcasts, all on the theme of building community in our organisations. Hosting the podcast Eat, Work, Sleep, Repeat, Bruce Daisley asks whether we need to recruit Community Managers into our organisations. Someone who would intentionally build connections and community into our ever-more fragmented working lives. I loved exploring that idea. It feels like there's something in that when it's not on the radar for leaders but also not for HR or OD folks. Do you feel there might be a gap too?

You can hear all 4 episodes here.  Including one featuring Casper ter Kuile, as it happens :-).

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Upcoming Events
As I mention above, I have new dates for the next Cohort of Leading from Love, starting in March.  Full details are here.  Previous participants said it was inspirational and soulful and 'a deeply thought-provoking examination of what it means to bring more love and humanity into the way we lead'.  Take a look for yourself or for someone else you know who might be interested...
There's still not much happening in the world of events but in June this year, you might like the 6th Relational Coaching Conference on 'Love over Fear' at Ashridge, exploring how we create the conditions for love to emerge in a coaching relationship has now found a new home on 25th June 2021. That should be safe enough, we hope! Do add the date to your diary - and I hope to see some of you there.
Let's Connect
If the idea of love in organisations interests you (or maybe 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 participants' eyes to new ways of seeing and working. Yes even virtually.  So 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.

Helena x

Email: helena@helenaclayton.co.uk
Call: 07771 358 881
Join me on social media
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