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Episode 30

How to Deeply Attune to Your Clients

It’s clear that there’s a lot of emotional maturing that needs to happen in the world of organizations, but how much of that is related to leadership and how do we help leaders access a deeper emotional maturity within themselves?

In this episode, peak performance expert Nicholas Janni talks to us about his top-down/bottom-up approach to this issue, and how to use our own bodies as a sensing tool to accompany our clients into ever deeper levels of internal awareness and external presence.

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How Leaders Need to Evolve

We’re conditioned to operate from a narrow bandwidth that is very left-brain dominated, which impacts how we think about and experience the world. For leaders this means everything is about control and structure, which is not serving us anymore. What leaders need now is presence, sensing and receptivity; an ability to be with uncertainty and foster creativity.

Nicholas’s approach is top-down and bottom-up. Top-down involves meditative mindfulness practice, a sitting practice that become a moment-to-moment practice and brings in a more spacious consciousness. Bottom-up is about working with all the unintegrated emotional material, including ancestral energy. 

One of the main reasons people leave organizations is because people don’t feel listened to. There’s a big learning needed around emotions, in order for leaders to be able to be with emotions in the workplace. This means that they are able to include what is present, which relaxes the individual nervous system of everyone present, and this allows a much greater intelligence to come in.

If you ask most adults what they’re feeling right now they have no idea. We need to learn to be precise with emotions and learn that there is no negative emotion. Fear for example, doesn’t block you, rather you block fear so it can’t move through (hence the block).

How We Can Help Them Shift

So how do we provoke this change? Helping leaders get present enough to feel themselves is the first place to start. We can help them learn to have their attention be internal and external at the same time, and whilst this is quite a sophisticated level of presence, they can start by just trying to keep feeling their body as they move through their day.

An important distinction to pay attention to in the coaching conversation is content and process. The client is throwing you a lot of bones (questions, thinking) and your job is not to follow the bones because if you follow the bones you miss the process. The aim is to get them to be with what is happening in them – you can invite this by saying, “Let’s make space for what’s happening inside you”.

As you get more sensitive you sense the client more than you’re listening to their words. Often we can sense the client more than they can sense themselves, so we can offer what we sense might be happening in them and invite them to sit with it. As they develop this capacity they can be with themselves and their challenges from a different space.

Practice noticing very subtle sensations in your own system. These can be a mirror for what’s happening in the client, and as the client comes more into contact with what’s alive in them, it can also create shifts in your system. This is your antenna and your most reliable resource in understanding what is really going on in your client.

Resources Mentioned:

About Nicholas

Nicholas Janni
Nicholas Janni

Nicholas Janni has spent 30 years researching ‘the zone’ of peak performance and studying multiple mind/body disciplines. Over the last 15 years he has gained an international reputation for his transformational coaching and leadership development seminars. He works with CEO’s and senior leadership teams worldwide, is a former Associate Fellow at The University of Oxford Said Business School and teaches regularly at the IMD in Lausanne.

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