Doing the Deeper Work

July 21, 2020 By Katherine Tyler Scott

Doing the Deeper Work

What does the work of self-awareness and responsible action look like in the midst of an historic health crisis, rising racial tensions, and declining trust in leadership at the highest levels?

Where do we begin?

I have a few suggestions:

  1. Begin with being conscious and intentional about developing and maintaining practices that promote self-awareness. I recommend books such as “The Congruent Life” by Michael Thompson and “A Failure of Nerve” by Ed Friedman. Books can be mentors and guides in the inner work.
  2. Begin practicing weekly individual reflection, discernment and journaling. This is about intentionality and discipline and perceiving this as integral to your psychological health.
  3. Participate in an inner work workshop. Research availability. They may be offered in Zoom format.
  4. Form a small peer support group with the shared goal of self-development.

The journey of self-discovery is never just solo. We all benefit from being in community with others who care about us and our development. Usually the discernment of answers to the questions offered in my previous blog come from within a discerning community.

  1. As consultants and educators, examine your own philosophical and pedagogical frameworks.

 Ask yourself: Do those I teach/educate become more of themselves? How does this happen? Do I learn more about myself? Do I update what I do based on what I learn? What difference am I making?

  1. Connect to research-based practitioners and practice-based scholars.

Ask yourself: Who is a responsible, competent professional trying interesting /different approaches? What are they learning?  How can I learn from them? How might I contribute to their practice? How are they using multi-modal, multi-disciplinary, cross-sector approaches?

  1. Remain informed about the systemic issues of inequity - racism, income inequality, inadequate healthcare, economic disparity - and use this content in your teaching and development of leaders. These other pandemics and the manner in which we respond to them reveal true character and offer opportunities to study and develop adaptive leadership skills.
  2. Continually work on increasing awareness of your biases, prejudices, and their conversion into isms. Be intentional about including knowledge of these tough issues in your preparation for doing leadership development work. This is a non-negotiable part of leadership formation now and in the long-term. If you haven’t done your inner work, you are not equipped to lead.

  1. Study systems theory. It will deepen your understanding of the complexity and interdependence of issues and reinforce your ability to deal with prolonged periods of instability and express your ideas with increased clarity and understanding of how to intervene.

We are in the midst of what at times feels like massive and permanent chaos; a time of cosmic like shifts that are unsettling opportunities for bold change in how we educate leaders. Leadership scholars, researchers, teachers and practitioners must be prepared to occupy the liminal space in which to question and re-examine not only the content of our work but the pedagogy we are using. In this time, we are called to give serious thought to what and how we have shaped leadership and for what kind of world we seek in the future.

Whatever form your inner work takes it is absolutely necessary to the development of well-differentiated, self-aware leaders; conscious about who they are and how they are being in the world.

Who we are - our very being in this world – affects the world?

Katherine Tyler Scott