“Systems thinking”. “Seeing the whole system”. “Acting with the whole system in mind”.
These are common expectations of leaders in organisational settings, especially settings that cross organisational boundaries. But what does thinking and acting with the whole system in mind really mean?
First, there’s a need to stand back. To put some distance between oneself and the organisational context. Not easy to do when feeling overwhelmed in a busy leadership role.Yet, the simple act of bringing this kind of objectivity into the oft beleaguered lives of leaders is one of the most fruitful interventions I can make as an Executive Coach. Like switching from dipped headlights to full beam, a systemic constellation enables the client to see the landscape in a different light.
By creating a ‘living map’ of the work situation and their place within it, the client explores what the constellation reveals about the system and the people that have an influence on their particular situation. The distance between two representatives in the map or the direction in which one is looking can shift perspectives and bring flashes of insight laying the foundations for change.
The constellation helps the client tune in to the situation enabling them to surface dynamics they couldn’t see but invariably showed up in an embodied way as a ‘felt sense’. These markers (e.g. spine tingling, thumping heart, tight throat) tell us there are hidden dynamics at play. These might be relational entanglements, hidden loyalties and allegiances which are often dismissed as ‘organisational politics’ but can contribute to high levels of stress in the workplace. It’s only when we really see and can acknowledge the situation just as it is, that there is the potential for change.
A renewed sense of agency and empowerment
Finding a better place to stand in a living map of the system brings hope that there is a way forward in a situation that previously felt stuck and intractable. The client can then tap into their personal resources to activate the movement towards 'better' giving a renewed sense of agency and empowerment.
Working systemically using constellations yields rich insights which resonate in a way that the body remembers. And when mind and body work together towards an outcome the solution is likely to be all the more enduring.
Bringing Coaching Constellations to Scotland
I'm delighted to be joining the Coaching Constellations training team to deliver our first 'Fundamentals' training in Scotland on 19th-20th February 2020. Find more information here
I’ll be running a taster session for the Association for Coaching on Tuesday 12 November 2019. You’ll find further information here