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Episode 58

Coaching Leaders in Times of Coronavirus

The world is panicking and our leaders are stressed, and yet we need emergent, innovative thinking now more than ever – how can we best support them through these challenging times?

In this conversation with leadership coach Jennifer Cohen we dive into the nature of shock responses, how to help stressed leaders reorient towards possibility, development beyond “self” and redefining what service means.

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Working with Shock

There is potency in the uncertainty of these times; there exists the possibility of something new emerging from within this time of disruption. And yet between potential and change we must encounter the emotions that are being engendered.

One of the things many people are facing is shock, and leaders who need to make decisions on a daily basis need help dealing with this as a priority. Shock can be recognised through various channels; energetic (frozen/frenetic), somatic (breathing) and verbal. There might also be a sense of absence from the person.

Shock occurs when too much is happening to be metabolized, which leads to the overwhelmed state that we then respond to by going into a frozen/panic state. Because shock and trauma thrive in isolation, connection is often a big part of moving through it.

Reorienting towards Possibility

When stability is disrupted, the organism has two choices; it can revert to its old homeostasis or it can move towards something new. As coaches it’s our role to help our clients process their stress so that they can have the internal space to open to new possibilities. As we do this we need to be very aware of our own biases and to be transparent with our clients about them. The aim is not to foster idealism, but a grounded optimism that allows space for possibility.

Helping leaders reorient towards possibility when they’ve released their stress is anchored in helping them come back to their big Why; their vision for their organization and for the world. This also helps them connect to their sense of sovereignty and agency, which creates a more resilient embodiment with which to meet the external crisis.

Expanding Beyond the Self

The task of early adulthood is to become someone, to become a “self” and to achieve things. Bu as our development continues into the non-physical realm of exploration and inquiry, it naturally leads us to an expanded sense of self, one that is more inclusive of the unseen. To a large extent, the work of spiritual development is to let go of the personal self and shift to a less self-oriented participation with life.

Many of our clients come to us in the self-making stage of development, but as they continue their arc of development the time comes when they start wondering, “What now”, at which point the larger paradigm of their life needs to be explored. We then need to help them begin to attune to space rather than objects, to the subtle realms of experience beyond the physical.

Resources Mentioned:
Ray Anderson

About Jennifer

Jennifer Cohen

Jennifer Cohen is a leadership and organizational coach and consultant with 25 years in the field coaching hundreds of individuals and groups, specializing in developing leaders to excel in a context of uncertainty and quick-shifting terrain. Her coaching and training is distinguished by her applied studies in communication theories including quantum physics, ontology, neuroscience, Somatics and systems thinking. She is the co-author with Gina LaRoche of The Seven Laws of Enough.

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