Archive for category Reflective practice
For decades in the field of leadership development, human emotions were just inconveniences that you had to avoid in yourself and ‘deal with’ in other people so that you could get on with the rational business of leading. However, developments in neuroscience, behavioural economics and evolutionary psychology are explaining why human beings just aren’t very good at being purely rational. Emotions are an essential to being a fully functioning human being, especially in a role that involves working with other human beings. If you couldn’t experience emotions, you would be incapable of making even the simplest decision.
If you are a fully functioning leader, you will experience a wide range of emotions as you develop your leadership identity. Whether you seek to embrace or avoid these emotions will determine how quickly you develop and how effective you can become. This is especially true of the negative emotions.
In this series I will discuss six important negative emotions that you are likey to experience as a developing leader, what they mean and how to work with the emotion successfully in order to grow into your full leadership potential.
Below is an article I wrote for the Journal of the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling. In it I try to bring together a whole range of narrative approaches to the task of reviewing your practice as a career practitioner. Some of the theories and models here are ones I have already blogged about, but I in this paper I talk about how you apply them to yourself.
(You have to scroll down to page 5 of the document to get to my article.)
I would welcome any comments or questions about the article.
Which techniques appeal to you?
What other techniques do you use in your reflective practice?
A few months ago I delivered a keynote address on continuing professional development as part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Seminar Series entitled Re-framing Service Delivery, Professional Practices and Professional Identities in UK Careers Work. At heart, these seminars bring people together (across professional disciplines) to share ideas about aspects of career work. There are two more still to come, the next is scheduled for November 2011 in Glasgow at the University of the West of Scotland.
Think about a recent job change that you made by your own initiative (rather than by force of circumstance, such as redundancy).
Why did you change? Had you got so fed up with your previous job that you had to move to preserve your sanity? Or were you tempted away by the opportunities on offer in the new job?
What about changing your mobile phone company, utilities, mortgage deal or internet service provider? Do you switch when you get fed up or do you constantly look for better deals?
What motivates you at work and why is it important to you? When you’re thinking about a job move, do you make a list of what you want or a list of what you don’t want?
When you make a list of pros and cons, which column tends to be most influential in making your mind up about something?
This issue of whether you are moving towards something or moving away from something has been a recurring theme in things I have been reading and in discussions I have been having over the last couple of weeks.
Over on Careers Debate we are having an interesting discussion about narrative approaches to career coaching/counselling.
Coincidentally, I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book which looks at how we reconstruct our memories and perceptions in order to keep them consistent with our self image.
In Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson explore the various ways in which we delude ourselves in order to maintain a favoured self-perception. They discuss how this desire to avoid cognitive dissonance leads to extremes of self-justification in all areas of life. They provide examples from the realms of politics (obviously!), international relations, law enforcement, psychology, alien abductions, scientific research and marriage guidance.
It is an interesting book, if somewhat depressing. Personally, I think it should be compulsory reading for any politician or business leader. There is enough thought-provoking material in here to sustain several heated discussions. However, one particular set of research studies caught my attention because of their potential link to narrative work with individuals.
Mindfulness is a cultivated state of mind in which you pay attention to the present moment. The modern usage of mindfulness is based on, but differs from, the Buddhist concept of sati (awareness). It is often linked to the practice of meditation but is now being investigated in relation to a number of different areas.
The idea of mindfulness came to prominence as a technique for stress reduction in the 1970s. Since then has been applied to a growing number of areas, such as pain management, education, behaviour management and cognitive therapy. In fact, I’m even going to be referring to it in a workshop on time management this week.
In the dim and distant past, a comment on a post discussing the concept of ‘Flow’ caused me to speculate about the difference between the notions of Flow and mindfulness. Last week, on the Advanced Guidance Skills course, I discussed mindfulness with some of the participants. This was in relation to the need to be acutely aware of what is going on moment-to-moment within a guidance or coaching discussion, where there is a constant danger of getting swept up in thinking about what you will do next with a client.
It was, therefore, interesting to come across an article in the Journal of Management (Dane, 2010) which seeks to clarify the relationship of mindfulness to other states of mind and which tries to identify the types of situation in which mindfulness might be useful and when it might not.
I have just returned once again from being a tutor on the AGCAS Guidance Skills (Advanced) course in Warwick. We had an intensive four days in which we encouraged a group of higher education careers advisers to deconstruct and rebuild their guidance practices and attitudes.
Reframing is a crucial element of the course. We explore how to help clients reframe their career dilemmas in more constructive ways. However, we also do a lot of reframing with the participants. Through workshop discussions, models, theories, observation and feedback, we encouraged everyone to explore different perspectives on the skills and processes of the guidance discussion as well as their role, assumptions and motivations within it.
It’s rewarding but exhausting!
One thing I noticed was that our ability to resist break-time pastries and dinner-time desserts diminished considerably as the course progressed.
And now I think I know why…
I have just finished reading A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freeman. I have a feeling that this is a marmite book. Some people (like me) will love it and others will hate it. I can even predict who will hate it; the people whom the book refers to as the ‘neat police’ — the people who insist on clean desk policies and colour-coded filing systems.
This book pleads the case for the potential benefits of disorder. It also highlights the hidden costs of an over-emphasis on neatness, from the expense of maintaining rigid categorisation systems to the dangers to health of obsessive cleanliness. It provides much needed support for those of us who are ‘differently-organised’ as we attempt to fend off those who seem intent on decluttering our lives.
The topics range (in a predictably messy way) from office desks to transport systems, from business to science, from education to politics.