I recently had the privilege of participating as a guest panelist in a leadership development program, “Belonging from the Inside Out”, facilitated by Margareth Thomas, Monique Longhurst, and Wesa Chau.
Picture a small group – perhaps 14 people, sitting in a circle: chairs, no tables, no data projector, and by unspoken, voluntary agreement no phones, tablets, or laptops. This simple arrangement allowed and supported a dynamic of deep listening and connection, in which people attended to and engaged with each other in a way rarely if ever seen in most meetings.
I was reminded of being asked, “what would success look like in terms of Diversity and Inclusion?” My initial thought was that I would see far greater diversity around the decision-making table; then I recalled the excellent work on decolonising the mind being done by Natasha Aruliah [linkedin.com/in/natasha-aruliah-75071420], and remembered the limits of my typical white western perspective. As Natasha reminds us, in traditional cultures, there is no table. We sit. We connect. We listen. We engage.
Are you looking to reach a deeper level of communication with others? Are you looking to be a more facilitative and inclusive leader, with a more engaged team? Try getting rid of the table – and getting rid of distracting technology — and just be there. You don’t need a formal agenda – just work with whatever is most important to the people in the group, at that moment. Listen, connect and engage with what emerges.
It’s said that leadership takes courage; we use both vulnerability and strength when we practice having the courage to not know – to simply be fully present with what is, in each moment.