Wendy Palmer (USA)
Leadership Embodiment techniques give us ways to access our creative abilities even in stressful circumstances. The LE model includes distinct ways of describing and analyzing how we behave in stressful situations. Using LE techniques, we scrutinize our habitual behaviors, examine the way we sit and stand, and learn how to shift our state of being so we can give more skillful responses in our quest of uniting mind, body and spirit.
The Art of Leadership
Leadership requires more than skills and business acumen, great leadership is an art form that requires qualities that signal a capacity for relational and intuitive processes. Presence, compassion, integrity and inquiry are qualities that enhance leadership in today’s fast moving, complex world of organization. Presence is the embodied capacity for expansion, the ability to extend energy that carries the context and meaning of the organization and what it stands for in a global perspective. Compassion is the authentic awareness that our lives are interconnected and the embodied message – ‘we are all in this together’. Integrity is manifested through transparency and provides a basis for credibility and accessibility. Inquiry is the ability to tolerate uncertainty as an arena of possibility and innovation.
The recognition that all of us have a personality that is driven by a survival pattern is baseline for the Leadership Embodiment process. The most challenging part of becoming aware of our actions is to recognize one of personalities favorite strategies, self-deception.
For a leader, the capacity to be aware of a survival energy pattern emerging creates transparency and a choice point. She can choose to make a shift in energy. Self-deception shows up as an impulse to control others and the outcome without taking one’s own behavior into account. Remember, the personality references on control, approval and safety. Rather than looking inward to become aware of how we are participating in a difficult situation the personality looks out at other people and sees how they need to adjust their behavior. A leader who is willing to acknowledge this and make a shift in her energy pattern brings a combination of humanity and centeredness to the challenges of attending to the immediate details of the moment within a sense of the larger context of past, present and future.
One of the most important aspects of the Leadership Embodiment work is examining the way the body organizes energy when it shifts to survival or senses a threat. In other words we look at how our survival pattern shapes our body. One of the ways the survival pattern is activated is through physical pressure.
Leadership Embodiment allows us to trigger the discomfort of the survival pattern in a controlled environment. By holding the wrists and applying a quick, light and constant pressure the body automatically goes into its survival pattern. Acting out a pressure situation triggers the energetic shape for irritation, anxiety etc… so you can observe how it presents as an energy pattern in the body. While the pressure is sustained it is possible to observe how energy is organized in three areas – the head and neck, the arms and chest and the hips and legs. This is useful because we may think that how we are responding is limited to what we are thinking. What we discover in the exercise is that our emotions and below that, our gut (belly), may be responding in a very different manor. This awareness helps us realize why, when we think we are being so clear about something others react as if we are giving them different information – and often we are doing just that. We are saying one thing, feeling another thing and below that we may have a deep sense of commitment to safety.
Once the observer is awakened it shifts the way we see ourselves in relationships. When the survival pattern is brought to the surface and seen in a non-judgmental way, there is less self-deception. Because our reactive pattern is no longer hidden we can say to ourselves, “Oh, look at me – my personality wants to be in control. I want respect and appreciation.” Then instead of pursuing the story, we can stop and shift our attention to the concentration of the centering process.
The centering practice can manage the discomfort of recognizing the story with more dignity and wisdom. The shift is from awareness – recognizing personality’s reaction, to concentration – the elements of centering. The short version for centering – uplift, expand and settle. For the longer process – we can inhale uplifting our posture, exhale down and soften our chest, thinking of something that makes us smile, expand our personal space and inquire… what if there were a little more… (generosity) in my being?
The centering process shifts the body’s energy pattern to a more calm, stable state. This centered state communicates a different message into the environment – a message of strength and warmth, inclusiveness and awareness of what is being communicated.
Leaders have a responsibility to be models for the community they influence. Embodied Intelligence recognizes the body is a vehicle to unify mind, emotions and intuition as a path to empower leadership. Leadership Embodiment is a body process through which leaders can model strength and humility through the embodied practice of inclusiveness, confidence, compassion and transparency. Understanding is not enough. If understanding was enough, then the smartest people would be the best leaders. We now know it takes more than IQ to be a great leader. It is time to move beyond the limitations of understanding and insights. The capacity to quickly shift from reactivity to resourcefulness, to access creativity, resilience and innovation is the next paradigm in the evolution of leadership.