Leaders increasingly operate uncharted territory characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – the VUCA world. Rapid decision making is expected in response to rapid change. Professor Reinhard Stelter, Professor of Sport and Coaching Psychology at the University of Copenhagen and visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School asks us to reconsider the idea of rapid pace as an antidote to rapid change. We welcome Reinhard as a keynote speaker to QUT’s Leadership Coaching Conference in November. I spoke to him recently about the power of ‘lingering’ in coaching and leadership.
Reinhard was intrigued by the Conference theme of ‘Crossing Boundaries’. Now living in Denmark, Reinhard spent half of his life in Germany. He recounted that the most historically dramatic day of his life was 9 November 1989 when people from East Germany crossed the boundaries to West Germany. 1½ months later his daughter Christin was born. He observed that the bringing down of the wall was a life-changing for a lot of people. Those living in East Germans lost part of their identity, hoping for a dream that has been fulfilled for some, but not for others. Some thirty years later, the political situation is still dense and there are regions where people feel as though they are living in the outback – even though they are in the center of Europe. At this political level, politicians are starting to realise that respectful dialogue is a way to move forward.
For leadership, the story of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the political turmoil has resonance, as well as direct impact. Reinhard has observed that the demands to leadership have changed massively. Leaders must be responsive, sensitive to, interested in and proactive towards the ever-changing conditions in their organisation, with globalisation tearing down previously establish rules and boundaries. His research and practice focus on dialogue as a central medium to building relationships and alignment between co-workers, in teams and as a way of leading. Leaders need to be able to build a dialogue culture, both by acting as a good role model and by supporting initiatives for a dialogical and transformative leadership.
For coaches who are working with leaders, Reinhard proposes a ‘third-generation’ coaching. He presents this form of coaching as an art of lingering that can offer inspiration to new forms of reflective and transformative dialogues. The dialogue partner is liberated by being invited to discover his or her ethical stance and the personal values that make everyday life meaningful. Pausing and lingering in the dialogue opens new possibilities for fundamental self-insight. The dialogue provides us with a framework for acting in the world with personal integrity. Thus, the dialogue is not a quick fix, but a sustainable conversation that helps a person discover where they stand. I look forward to introducing Reinhard to you at our Conference and lingering with him as we consider the future of leadership and coaching.
For information about the Leadership Coaching Conference “Crossing Boundaries” highlights read more.