In Part 3 of “The Leadership of Letting Go” I touched on the role of trust in leadership. People want to be able to trust, and be trusted by, their leaders. This demands that leaders be authentic. One roadblock on the road to authenticity is that what we say may not match what we really think and feel. And followers sense this discrepancy.
During my integrative coaching training, I experienced, for the first time, the power of a tool, “The Left-Hand Column”, based on an article by Rick Ross and Art Kleiner in “The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook”. Here’s how you can use it to help you develop some powerlessness. Choose a difficult problem from the recent past (perhaps, something from your “Powerlessness Inventory”) that involves an interaction with someone else and describe it briefly, in a few sentences.
Now divide a sheet of paper with a line down the middle; label the right-hand column “what we said” and the left-hand “what I was thinking and feeling”.Record the conversation you had in the right-hand column. If it’s about a situation in which you only held the conversation in your mind, write that down. (In either case, you may need more than one piece of paper.)
The next step is to review the conversation and, in the left-hand column, write down what you were thinking or feeling, but didn’t say.
The fourth step is to reflect on the two columns. Sometimes it helps to put the pages away for a few days and then reread. Through the distance of time, it is easier to notice and learn. Sometimes it’s helpful to discuss the pages with a coach. Some questions to help your process of inquiry:
- How have I contributed to this situation?
- What stopped me from saying what was in my left-hand column?
- Over what was I powerless?
- How might the conversation be different, if I allowed myself to be powerless? (Write down the new version of the conversation.)
- How do I intend to behave in the future?
- What do I need to support this behavior?
Give yourself some time to complete the exercise and reward yourself afterward for a big step forward.
Photo: Andreas / flickr