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Voice, embodiment and leadership

Have you ever been touched or charmed by a voice, or on the contrary troubled or disturbed? What about music? Some music are attractive, while others are not, or are even repellent. Some music have the power to change or influence your mood in a certain way.

Voice, embodiment and leadership for better decision making

Have you ever been touched or charmed by a voice, or on the contrary troubled or disturbed?

What about music? Some music are attractive, while others are not, or are even repellent. Some music have the power to change or influence your mood in a certain way. You might even consciously choose a particular music to slide into a chosen mood.

Voices and behaviors act that same way, be they individual or collective as in a team. They have the power to change what you think, feel, do.

So how can a team make better decisions, by growing its capacity in voice, embodiment and leadership?

After a session I lead at War school, a female American GI came to talk to me and shared her striking discoveries. I can still remember she was tiny and very discrete, not exactly what first comes to your mind when you imagine a GI. She spoke some French, but as required by the client, the session was in French. I had improvised three different characters, saying the same sentence. The embodiment of three different leaders. My intention was to bring the participants to experience differences, and unfold the experience, with their different points of view, backgrounds, international culture…

That very experience, lit a bright light in her mind. It made her realize that, if what you say is important, the way you say it conveys lot of information too. As her French was quite poor, she was more connected to the rest of the signals. And, though she had learned, from her educational and professional background not to show emotions, and not to smile, that experience made her switch to a new skill: be able to adapt to the situation by smiling, acting and playing with her voice.

In other words, she had experienced a brain switch from automatic mode – what you know, you have learned, you take for granted, you believe – to adaptive mode – from where you can innovate, be creative, be agile in this situation, in this moment; because it is you and them, now and here.

We all have beliefs locking some behaviors, depriving us of liberties, that could be useful to adapt to complex situations. Increasing our capacity to be self-related, to work with our signals (thoughts, emotions, behaviors) and our reflexive analysis is a development path. Working on our behavioral liberties improves our capacity to make better strategic decisions in complex situations.

Voice and embodiment experience twined with cognitive work is a powerful approach to boost complex decision-making capacity.

I am always amazed when in the end of a coaching, I see an expert walk on his/her two legs: expertise and human, dancing with more flow, lightness and depth, to promote expertise, often a passionate choice, in her/his company, in international teams, all over the continents.

I work with international stature experts. I have seen several of them entering an individual coaching with a heavy load of doubts about their effectiveness in their company, being overwhelmed by tough relationships, restraining their expertise to spread out in the company or even lightning the idea that their expertise would be better empowered elsewhere. A considerable loss from an HR point of view, experts of that range being at their peak after several decades! And through the coaching sessions, I see them reconnect to their core passion, and find more means to enhance their relationships and unfold their leadership.

As a former expert in civil engineering, and today an expert in leadership coaching, I am very proud to contribute to build bridges between technical expertise and human extraordinary capacities.

It is actually a challenge to understand how a human brain works and how it impacts decision-making and leadership, both individual and collective.

Experts are used to work with complexity, so their capacities to address complexity twined to their dedication to their expertise can be very useful to understand models and exercise to develop their leadership.

I bring experts to understand how their brain works and how to set up changes, to reach their coaching objectives. After this cognitive work, they experience the change they have chosen in their professional life, and sometimes also personal.

A Board or a Team is linked through shared objectives, connected to the company’s performance, colored by its culture, field, environment, background, context and ecosystem. These objectives are supported by individuals, with their specific voices and expertise, and also by the specific sound of this team. How can this team align and build on differences to be even better and even more agile in an ever changing world?

In a direction board or a team, members have different roles, different experiences, and of course different voices, male, female, high or low pitched, slow or swift, weak or loud… Just like different instruments. When you listen to the global sound of this board, it has its distinctive, unique sound. How does this board sound, to onboard change in the company?

Moreover, the sound of this board, like the sound of an orchestra is constantly changing. Some instruments or voices being more present than others, and some being sustained by others, some being solo… This piece of music is telling a story, with an introduction, movements and an ending. And hopefully also sometimes improvising freely from the score!

Quite often when I meet a team for the first coaching session dealing with conflicts, I can feel the tension in the air. Were it a sound, it would be a very disharmonious one, and sometimes squealing or grinding, rattling or rumbling…

Conflicts are part of relationships. They are a sign that something is trying to happen. Mature teams are able to perceive those signals and to work with them. They can hear the different voices of the system and build on it.

Organisational and Relationship Systems Coaching bring teams to grow as a system, to deal with conflict constructively, to hear each voice as a precious instrument of the orchestra, and to be able to define and produce the sound that is appropriate for the team and the objectives.

From that team capacity, two main outcomes are:

  • a team growing in efficiency, in adaptability, in agility, in innovation
  • individuals being better engaged because their voice is being heard as part of the system.

We also work on shared leadership, with vocal improvisation. Standing in a circle, we improvise, starting from an instruction, and off we go! Improvisation is led by one person, until she passes the lead to somebody else. This experience connects each person to her/his inner confidence and specific leadership. And improvisers are confronted to social image, with the same brain mechanisms than when they are in relationship with a group. It is also an opportunity to test other leaderships and to dare, explore, observe, learn and innovate. This group process is utmost powerful to be more agile in complex situations, individually and collectively!

In a company, growing leadership for individuals and teams is a key to cope with change.

One person after another, one team after another, one board after another and vice versa.

Coaching with brain, voice & body on board is an asset to face those challenges and spread thought leadership in our world.

If you need any support on your organisation’s and leader’s coaching journey, do contact us at ICF and our team of volunteers in the UK will be happy to help.

About the author: Agnès Grisard, Professional Certified Coach (PCC), trainer and expert in Neurocognitive and Behavioral Approach, International Coaching Federation

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