Holding space is a skill we all need; leaders especially so. So, what is holding your space?
Have you ever entered a room where the energy/tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife, or been in an environment where no one has the courage to say what needs to be said?
Recently my partner and I were exploring our reactions and expectations to other people’s behaviours, specifically trying to understand what it was about the situation that frustrated us: was it the people, the behaviours, different values, and so on?
After recognising the negative impact our current approach was having on us, we both decided to:
- Go with the flow of the conversation.
- Be clear about our expectations.
- Manage our own frustrations.
- Hold our space.
Holding space is sitting in these uncomfortable environments and being present for others while they make sense of what is occurring/ has occurred, not by judging, providing solutions, but by ‘creating a safe space’ for the person to share, we listen and understand.
Here is a challenge for leaders: to effectively hold space, the process is not about the leader, it is about the other person – the power and control remains with the other person. This is where Emotional Intelligence and Resilience come in. You can read my post on Emotional Intelligence and Resilience here.
7 Strategies for leaders to hold space:
- Don’t take away the power of the other person, instead empower them.
- Create a safe environment for exploration and possible failure.
- Guide and help don’t direct.
- Be genuine, listen, really listen.
- Remain mindfully present.
- Allow their story to evolve.
- Check your ego at the door, it’s not about you.
To achieve this, there is value in silence! Research suggests silence is vital for our brains. Silence helps us to think innovatively, laterally and outside the box.
Further, a Forbes article highlighted discomfort facilitates personal [and professional] development.
To value, understand and benefit from both silence discomfort Emotional Intelligence and Resilience are paramount.
Leaders will find it hard to hold the space for others (in essence, enable others to grow) if they don’t have others holding space for them. All leaders, even the most confident and strongest, need to know there are people they trust with whom they can share and show their vulnerabilities.
Importantly, as a leader, ask yourself:
- Who’s holding space for you?
- Who are you creating or holding space for?
- Who are you taking space from?
Find and hold the space, the space to effectively lead.
Want to be radically present? Call me +61412390640 to find your space and stay in it and build your strategies for you to effectively hold space.