Are You Leading Through Space?

Susan S Freeman Blog


You know it when it happens to you.  A colleague or boss calls you or invites you to a meeting.  They get right down to business.  They dive in to the ask of what they need from you.    In our highly connected, plugged-in 24/7 world, it may seem natural to expedite conversations with others in order to be efficient.

What I’ve observed is that although this can work, it needs to be used sparingly.  This approach may be efficient in the short term, yet costly in the long run.  Effective leadership requires trust, collaboration and co-creativity.  None of these things happen when we focus only on efficiency.

Why not?

Because there is not enough space.

To engage in an effective conversation, there must be spaciousness.  With space, the other person can be invited to exchange ideas, approaches, and, importantly, express reservations.  Without space, others may feel distant or even “cut off” from expressing what they truly believe or care about.  They then leave the call or meeting and are not engaged or fully signed on to the task.

In coaching leaders, one thing I know for sure is that leaders and teams who learn to create spaciousness enjoy more collaborative, collegial, trusting relationships.  Then when the challenges come—and they inevitably do—they have made enough deposits in order to not overdraw from their “trust accounts.”

How do leaders go about creating space?

Top 5 tips to get you started

  1. Check in with yourself first—am I fully present?
  2. Make sure you are emotionally centered and at least neutral
  3. Ask questions that invite others to participate
  4. Listen to their responses vs. thinking of what you are going to say next
  5. Balance the amount of time you spend talking and listening

Practice becoming intentional with one small step you can take to create space.  When you do, you open up a world for others.

I invite you to share your thoughts and comments here.

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