Breakfast introduction – The Human Element

Today, we conducted a small two hour long program with twenty participants to promote Frontwalker, show our expertise in organisational development, and introduce The Human Element as a theory and as a method. We did not want to do a normal lecture, so instead we structured the two hours in the same way as any other THE program we run, whether they’re a single day or a series of sessions over a longer period of time. In this way, we managed to deliver high value in a very short time!

Of course we put the chairs in a wide circle with no tables in the way. We cleared the room from unnecessary tools to creatde a peaceful environment. We started by welcoming all participants, presented the agenda for the exercise and described ourselves and our background as practioners. Then we travelled around the circle to let everyone present themselves. Today the presentation was briefly about themselves, the organization they represented and why they were with us in this excercise. With twenty participants this took quite a while. Some of the participants kept their self presentation short but others used quite a lot of time to tell us more about themselves, their experience in leadership programs, thoughts and feelings of self esteem or anything else that felt important at the time. This is an important step in any group process and a vital part of all Human Element programs. One of the success factors is openness, to myself and to others, and when we start by giving everyone some time to tell the group about myself and my current situation we encourage everyones participation of the groups openness. Everyone in the room, including we as practioners, needs the right amount of feeling important, competent and liked.A small fraction of this is accomplished by the talk-around where everyone gets a share of the attention, show that they know things the group don’t and that we can laugh or cry with their stories.

As in every Human Element we present some binding theory and guidelines beforehand. Today we ran a very short theory just to provide a base of knowledge and credibility, stimulate thoughts and ideas about everyday life and personal situation and to relieve some of the performance anxiety that may exist. The last not least as one of the basics of the methodology and the approach is that ww all have issues, and we all have something to explore and develop. With this mindset we beleive that with a stronger concept of self, and a stronger feeling of self we avoid criticizing others and ourselves, defining right or wrong and blame games with guilt as the important part. Too often we hear the little critic inside us who think we should know more and understand more. We therefore try to cover this early in the program, and use it as a reminder during the whole journey, trying to see ourselves as those we are, instead of focusing on what we must or would or should improve.

Today the theory was brief as we had a small window. We talked about the background of FIRO and THE and team performance in harmony with the individual’s development. We discussed the fundamental approaches to explore and challenge rather than blame and categorizing in right-or-wrong. We showed the different sources for self awareness that we use to explore during the programs. We also showed the strong pattern in Human Elements Openness – Self awareness – Self determination. We want to promote greater transparency, both for individuals and groups, to gain access to a larger portion of our thoughts, feelings and internal processes. It gives a gradually increasing self awareness in which we individually have a better understanding of ourselves, and where a team learns more about every participant and the common results. Individual and collective self awareness brings increased opportunities to choose more in life. As I understand why and how a situation arises, my future action can de determined by conscious choice rather than an unconscious reaction. When I am open with myself and others, when I know better who I am and how I work I can turn the wheels in my life in the way I want to. I will communicate better, connect better and work better with the group. The I will feel better and we will become more efficient in the group.

Wilbers quadrant, as shown below (please read more in A Brief History of Everything), provided a framework to show how we work with the individuals and groups insides and outsides. These need to be in balance in our lives, and not least when involved in change management, but often we lose the inside eager as we are to move forward and produce visible results. Still, we need the inside to reach the major effects within ourselves and our communities.

After the brief theory we let the group try an exercise to see how some of the sources of self awareness in the program is performed, but also to give all participants the possibility of an ounce of greater self concept. We did an imagery that this time was all about emotion. After a short relaxation the participants were led into three different rooms. The first is full of people who think you are important, the second room is filled with people who consider you to be very competent and the third is occupied by people who all like you very much. The imagery in the different rooms might give you different kind of thoughts, feelings or body sensations that are interesting to explore. The discussion afterwards dealt with which room felt most comfortable, and which room felt most uneasy or resulted in discomfort. The reactions from the group were very different, because we are all different, and that’s ok, and different rooms were important in different individuals. Not everyone had the strong effects and sensations during the visits in the rooms, but everyone had something to explore afterwords.

The conversation then turned to the emotional impact on behavior. The important core that explain our external behaviors relationship with our inner experiences is self concept and self esteem. With examples and reflection, we tried to get the group to understand how low self esteem greatly affect us as we get pushed within significance, competence and being liked. If everything I am and everything that’s important to me, if my whole existence boils down to how other people act and feel about me, I will be very weak. For an example, if I do not feel important in the way I want to and I get into a situation where I was not invited and not involved, and if I do not even understand the situation and my feelings, chances are that I respond automatically with anger, sadness or inaction. With self-awareness and self-esteem, I am better equipped to take action and choose my behavior.

At this point, ten minutes from the end of this short program, the experience based conversation met the initial theories from the introduction, and we got the opportunity to summarize the basics of The Human Element and reflect on the short two hour joint process that we’ve been creating together. As in all our programs we wanted to check out in order to get to a good ending for all participants. Todays checking-out was short, just over seven minutes, and consisted of reflection upon the question ‘What do I bring from this session?‘. It resulted in very different answers. One participant shared her deeper understanding about herself, and another participant reached another level of understanding situations at work, and yet another realized openly that personal development is an eternal journey. I totally agree on that one.

We arranged a similar breakfast program in Stockholm on Tuesday and we will come back with more of theese in the future. Because, as one of the participants so clearly stated, the region needs a leadership fueled by this type of properties!

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  1. Pingback: Sustainability and The Human Element | peterA.se - Ledarskap, coaching och vetenskap

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