So we're in early August already! July has had a bit more space in it and so I've been practicing being comfortable with doing a little less (work).
There's been more time with friends, many of whom I realise I have known for 30 years. A few more trips to the beach hut including doing a Teams meeting from there which opens up a few more possibilities. And a bit more 'going back to bed with a book and Netflix'. Walks on the Downs too. The iffy weather's got in the way of some plans, mind you, but that's going to happen more and more to all sorts of plans. Oh, and a walking-silent-disco-tour of Brighton one Friday night was the best fun in ages.
And I'm still struggling with that broken E key and a global shortage of new keyboards. Might have to bite the bullet and get a new laptop.
And here this month, there's:
An episode of a new podcast from my colleague Robert Digings, called Highly Relational, where I really am made to think about love and how it shows up in organisations. It's a good conversation, have to say.
some new events d another going deep into a 'human and loving workplace'
a reminder why focusing on stories of appreciation makes a huge difference
some new research into Why Women Leave and what might support retention of women
a short film that brings Shadow Work to life in a really helpful way
And we're dipping our toes into August now - the mornings are already that little bit darker and the blackberries are showing themselves. I hope the seasonal turn is gentle with you and I'll see you with new pencils and notebooks in early September. .
(main pic this month is a painting by Jane Wormell. I usually use my own photos but this was too beautiful to resist)
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So not a podcast from me this month. Instead one from Robert Digings (and me) as he launches his new business podcast called Highly Relational. All of Robert's powerful organisational work is about building highly relational teams as the core conditions for performance.
In any event, you might want to listen to Robert's questions more than my responses. As you'll be able to hear, I am thinking on my feet, which is not always the case as a podcast guest. So it was hugely helpful to be taken into areas of my thinking about love in organisations that needed a good dust off.
Among other things, we explore:
how love is complex and gendered, and struggles to claim its own space
why love won’t break if we use it liberally
how even through anger it’s possible to be loving
organisations can’t be loveless because they are full of people
love isn’t delicate, it’s robust and is for all occasions
many aspects of love are already happening in most organisations, it simply needs amplifying and naming
love helps people bring their best self to work
organisations could be a place for healing if love isn’t left at the front door
And Roffey Park has asked me to update my original Love and Leadership research report for 2023. It should be available in the next month or so and I'll share it here when it is. You can find the original report on this page on my website in the meantime.
Events and workshops
If you're in Brighton on 11 October, you might like Building and Thriving in a Loving Environment from A Human Workplace. If I wasn't already committed that day, I would be part of it - and so I'm really hoping there will be more like this coming.
I'm finally doing another poetry workshop with poets Tom Hirons and Rozi Hilton. Very excited I am too! Called Wielding the Green Knife. they're running on several weekends in a range of interesting places. Book onto the one in Norwich at the end of November and you can work on your poetry alongside me.
You are not broken ...
'You are not broken; it's just that some parts of you have been left in the dark'.
Some of you will know how valuable I've found Shadow Work in my own development. It's helped me claim and welcome the parts of me that don't like very much. And it's certainly helped me in my coaching and other work.
And if you want to know more here's a new film, from Marianne Hill, that gives a feel for what Shadow Work is about, and how it works. Only 30 mins, it's really worth a watch.
‘Love begins as an affectional capacity, cultivating the ability to make room in our hearts for others. Love starts with the ‘will to embrace’, the spontaneous and unconditional welcome we extend towards others’
There are many voices now who don't see much value in an anonymous 360 process. I'm with them. I don't know what would I'd need to hear that would persuade me to include one in any work I do.
There are other ways.
One of those is to take away the anonymity - make it deeply relational - add in an appreciative approach and to do it through stories.
This month, I did a refresher session to use Point Positive, a way of gathering and getting feedback from a range of people - family and friends as well as your professional network - that focuses on 'tell a story of this person when you experienced them at their best'. You end up with a bunch of stories about you - between 12 and 30 - that
It reminded me of a few things. First, Charles Eisenstein on the way hope is a form of love. He says that it's an act of love to hold a vision for someone of the best version of themselves when they themselves might have lost touch with it. This tool has something of that about it.
And I dug out this piece I wrote a year or so ago on the importance of helping people feel like they matter. Point Positive does a great job of saying 'I see you', of helping people to feel 'got'. When I was using it regularly a few years ago, this was such a powerful sense for people that there would often be tears because they really felt that.
I'm in the middle of designing a module of a women's leadership programme, and we're looking career development - what are the old rules, what matters most now, and what do women need to be aware of. And helpfully, a new piece of research arrives, from Joy Burnford and Encompass Equality.
Why Women Leave makes for interesting reading, not least because it makes clear that when considering retention of women, attending to factors associated with women - like menopause, children and elder care - is nowhere near as important as attending to the things that everyone wants and needs. Which is a good line manager, career progression and a decent organisational culture.
Some interesting findings too, about how Black and Asian women are more likely than White women to say they are thinking of leaving their organisation; and how much more honest respondents are when it's not their organisation that has invited them to complete the survey (even though it's anonymous).
‘Love is that micro-moment of warmth and connection that you share with another living being’
Sir the story's very simple
you are born
gaze fretfully at
the reddish blue of the sky
a migrating bird
the clumsy beetle
your shoe will bravely
cry out for food
and out of habit
weep guilt-free tears
until sleep dismisses you
and love transforms you
for so precarious an eternity
that even your pride gives way
and your prophetic heart
turns to rubble
and use what you've learned
to grow gradually wiser
until you realise the world is only this
at its best a nostalgic moment
at its worst a moment of helplessness
and always always a mess
Mario Benedetti (translated by Louise B. Popkin)
Fiction-wise, not a huge amount this month. The Marriage Portrait from Maggie O'Farrell was a gripping and tense study of a relationship. I thought twice about passing it onto a friend with experience of being on the receiving end of coercive control. And then also Go Set A Watchman from Harper Lee. Dom also read this - he loved it and I really didn't.
Workwise, started In Love With Supervision, ahead of some coach supervision training with Robin Shohet in September. I heard him speak about 2 years ago, and talk about how love needed to be at the heart of all that we do in organisations, and knew I'd have to find a way to study with him at some point.
And at work
A rich mix:
A wonderful few days in Oxford working with the Blavatnik School of Government, on a senior Civil Service programme. I can't say this enough - such bright and caring people doing important work in very testing circumstances.
Updating my 2019 Leading from Love research for Roffey Park - out soon!
Action learning sets with senior women leaders in the Civil Service. I still find it wonderful to see what happens when groups of people get together in a peer circles to listen, support, challenge and help each other to think well together.
Setting up a new project with a client. Recruiting a team of facilitators and a Project Manager and off to a great start.
Pulling together my findings and recommendations for a piece of OD 'discovery' work for the Head of Residential Children's Care in a County Council.
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