It feels as if it has been an intense week or so for most of us, with some common themes emerging between our clients. It is a real privilege to be working virtually with so many of you – and the coaching conversations are full of rich observations, deeply felt emotions and a lot of questions. Being able to say, ‘you’re not alone in thinking that’ and able to share evidence of others’ views seems to really help.

Feeling out of control; personal and professional anxieties

A big theme to come to the fore is around worrying about feeling out of control when so much is coming at you, amplified by agendas that need to address global not just local problems. The impact of this has genuinely been quite extreme amongst some of our Exec community;

‘Devastating to feel out of control for the first time in my leadership career – I am used to identifying and solving complex strategic problems at speed but that just isn’t possible in this new context’

‘It feels like 3 years since we last had our coaching not 3 weeks’

The volume, the issues, it’s like a volcano erupting and spewing its lava and it keeps coming’

The ongoing backdrop of Covid-19 with its uncertainties, the personal and professional anxieties it provokes is beginning to take its toll.

As #blacklivesmatter and all it has come to represent has taken centre stage (about time too) some descriptions of already depleted groups of staff have made reacting to the opportunities that are now with us harder to act on – something we all know we just have to get on top of. But it is hard when some organisations are feeling this;

‘I have a work force that’s tired, emotionally spent, and also disappointed with where things are now at.’

‘Are we or aren’t we leaving lockdown – when ARE we going back?’

The symbolism of leaving lockdown could be in danger of not being the anticipated celebratory ‘feel good’.

This was brought home to us as someone described the change in their walking environment;

‘My daily exercise, walking the dog by the river has been my salvation, and the bird song, the comparative peace has been so therapeutic. But now, much more than before lockdown, as gatherings are taking place this same walk is getting clogged up with BBQ rubbish, plastic bottles, beer cans and even discarded punctured plastic dinghies. It feels all wrong – is this the ‘new normal’ we had such hope in? Learning from this pandemic and doing things differently? We hope not.

So, a local field of rampant poppies was a nice antidote to some of this gloom that is in the air and maybe a hint to start walking somewhere else!

This poppy red reminded us that we have often used colours in our work with both teams and individuals to help describe emotional dynamics at play.

Coaching conversations; what space the issue occupies

In a recent coaching conversation we also referenced the need to extend that use of colour when looking at influencing skills.

Learning how to not just use the primary colours in negotiation and strategising but mixing that palette of colours up a bit to bring in new shades of influencing, flex, warmth as well as directness

Something that has also often helped in our work when wanting to help shift blocks and problems, yet another visualisation technique, is thinking what space the issue occupies; using your hand to demonstrate is it front of face, to the side or at the back of your head? Where do you want it to be? How do you get it there?