Growing Inclusive Leadership

THE CLIENT  - a Global Energy Company.

THE CHALLENGE - to create a more inclusive leadership culture through a Female-led initiative.

OUR APPROACH: reflective practice; discovery-based learning; a flexible framework for in-depth exploration; focused learning on live issues; and meaningful inclusive dialogue.

Whilst the intervention was multi-faceted and progressive in its design, this case study focuses on the Reflective Practice element - why it was important for learning, what we did and how it worked.


The three lenses of reflective practice: Self Reflection, Relational Reflection, Situational Reflection

Reflective practice is the ground from which we can increase self awareness and self understanding, leading to more informed choices. It is the ground from which successful leadership emerges and where inclusivity has a chance of actualising. It is the ground from which deep culture change can happen.

Knowing how powerful reflective practice can be for building inclusive cultures, the faculty for this programme worked closely with the client to design a number of different reflective learning elements into the programme. These included:

  • A reflective Journal with reflective exercises and space for writing

  • Reflective questions aligned to emerging issues, emailed to participants every Monday morning between events

  • Reflective space throughout the facilitated sessions to connect with more immediate responses to live issues

  • Exercises and skills development opportunities that would demand reflective practice to fulfil them

  • Greater attention given towards everyday issues and interactions to identify habitual patterns that keep things the same, rather than change them.

In brief:

Self reflection is a subjective process that involves sensory awareness, understanding your feelings, learning how to track your moment-by-moment response to situations, noticing how you deal with daily encounters and difficult situations, and learning to know yourself well. Authentic leadership requires self reflection and self knowing for you to be authentic. Personal authority is achieved when you discard old habits and old belief systems that no longer serve you well - we can only see this through the lens of self reflection.

Relational reflection leads to a better understanding of how you interact with others, how you deal with conflict, confrontation and difficult situations.

Situational reflection brings greater attention to lived situations, gaining more nuanced awareness of cultural, habitual and unconscious behaviours and interactions.

We believe that all three lenses are necessary for growing inclusive leadership - in this way both personal change and culture change have a chance of being sustained.

With this client we were particularly interested in developing situational reflection, to help us all better understand lived events and the nuances of interaction that get missed; the small detail that keeps a culture the same; the habits that go unnoticed; personal attitudes that get taken for granted; a normalised response that has been out of sync for decades. We wanted the women to begin to see moments where they might inadvertently collude with assumptions and behaviours that they are trying to change, and confront attitudes that are part of the norm but do not serve new leadership cultures well.

At the EB Centre we aim to make reflective practice a healthy habit. This isn’t easy when people are not used to it and every day is a roller-coaster day. Our approach with this client was to help resource that process in as many ways as possible - the result was that the women started seeing situations in new and different ways, discovering how they could confront and challenge situations that had previously gone unnoticed.

Writing reflective journals proved to be difficult for many (not all) of the women - the difficulty was mainly a time issue. However, weekly emails with reflective questions were received as valuable - evoking deep thought that would inspire new thinking, without feeling the need to write those thoughts down.

We continue to encourage reflective practice with the group, many issues raised and addressed would not have been noticed without this level of learning. In particular, early participants have talked about a ‘ripple effect’; noticing that, by changing the way they respond to situations, people around them change and adapt in response to the shifts that take place. They are discovering the power of systemic connectedness, that has always been there but never realised as a leadership resource for change.

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