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Why does the way leaders and OD practitioners show up matter? And how can the self be useful in their work?

We recorded this podcast on the self as an instrument to delve deeper into the topic. This episode is dedicated to Mee-yan Cheung-Judge.
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This podcast is all about using the self as an instrument. As discussed by Mayvin director Martin Saville and Principal Consultant, Carolyn Norgate. Within seconds of talking on the subject, both Martin and Carolyn mentioned Mee-yan Cheung-Judge.

Her name is so synonymous with this topic. Especially due to her seminal paper in 2001: The self as an instrument a cornerstone for the future of OD. Sadly, only a couple of days after this podcast was recorded Mee-yan passed away. So we would like to dedicate this episode to her.

She was such an influential person in the world of OD. But also specifically for Mayvin, and our individual consultants that work here too. During Martin and Carolyn's chat, this subject crosses over, tangles, relates to so many other topics. Topics like embodiment, appreciative mindset and self fulfilling prophecy. Perceived weirdness, how we work at Mayvin as consultants going into organisations and how we show up. And how it relates to the notion of practice. I.e. how you show up in what you do.

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Show notes

Martin Saville  1:19  
Hello, I'm Martin Saville, Managing Director of Mayvin. I do hope you enjoy this recording of Carolyn and me discussing the use of self as an instrument in OD. A few days after we made the recording. We were deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Mee-yan Cheung-Judge, someone whom we both mentioned early on in our conversation, as highly influential to our thinking. Mee-yan was a towering figure in the world of OD, both in the UK and internationally. And a good and generous friend to all of us here at Mayvin and she'll be sorely missed. This episode of the Mayvin's podcast is dedicated to Mee-yan's memory

Carolyn Norgate 2:36
Yeah, so thinking about self as instrument. Is it worth thinking about when we first came across this where it comes from in our practice? Where it where it comes from more broadly? As a bit of scene setting?

Martin Saville 2:48
Yeah, absolutely. So I first came across the term, when I started working in the world of OD. I think it was Mee-yan, Cheung-Judge, used this term, use of self. Or use of self as an instrument. And I really liked it. Because it was the idea that in some way, OD work wasn't just about what you did. It was about who you are. And bringing yourself to it was an integral part of the idea of good OD work. That, that really intrigued me.

Carolyn Norgate 3:28
Yeah, I think the same for me. I think it was Mee-yan's fairly seminal article on developing yourself as an instrument that I was introduced to when I was doing my masters. So yeah, almost 20 years ago. We should probably put a link to that in the show notes. (The article can be found here: )

Yes. So so same reasons as Martin. That permission. It kind of gave you permission to think about how you show up. And that's important and part of the practice. And also, how are you? How are you looking after your instrument? Which always sounds odd way of thinking about oneself. But there was also, in fact, it gave permission to think about how you care for yourself.

I mean, that's a much more valid conversation, self care, you know, is part of the lexicon nowadays. But it wasn't 20 years ago. And certainly I'd come through the HR profession, it had a deep impression finding myself moving into the OD profession. And, you know, cobblers children springs to mind. Of groups of people who are doing a lot of looking after the organisation and keep the employees in the organisation safe, but don't really know how to themselves very much.

Martin Saville 4:49
I mean, it's actually a really radical idea, isn't it in some ways. That brings OD as a an idea, into the sort of the same territory as other embodied skills really. So, musicianship or those kind of crafts. Where there's a way in which, as you do, what you do, who you are shows up.

And the idea that something that lives in the world of organisational behaviour has that that same quality to it. I think is quite a radical idea. And so then, as you say, brings up then thoughts around. Okay, so how, how do I cultivate that?

And how do I pay attention to it and look after it? One of the thoughts that I started having, when I developed my thinking around this was, you know, if, if the self is an instrument, what kind of instrument is it? And sometimes when I do PowerPoints on this, I have two kinds of pictures.

I have a kind of picture of someone playing a musical instrument, you know. That sort of sense of, it's that kind of instrument. It makes an impact and intervention, if you like. In the OD cycle terms, it's an intervention. But also, you know, the idea of the self as a diagnostic instrument.

Something that in some way can give you a sense of what's going on in the organisation. Or the system or the team or whatever. So that idea that I turn up in a particular reception to a new clients and get a kind of hit off, off the atmosphere around that.

Is it as a kind of place that where I feel safe? And able to be myself and take a risk? Or somewhere where I feel slightly oppressed? And so you know, you've got different types of instrument that the self can potentially be.

Carolyn Norgate 7:03
I think the diagnostic one, was the one that was more of a revelation for me. The, if I put myself back 15/20 years, and I've been looking at that slide the, the instrument, you know, flautist, or whatever. There is expertise in that, it's craft obviously, and how that flautist is shows up.

So I really like it, but it feels like it's in a slightly more conventional. As you said, with consulting cycle, classic OD space. And I think the diagnostic one kind of links us to the helping professions. Again, thinking about where the concept comes from.

Yeah, in that, okay, what am I? What's my body, telling me about what's going on right here? If I'm feeling excited. If I'm feeling more tired than when I came in. But you know, what's the impact that this interaction with this individual or these 10 individuals on whoever it is. It is starting to give me extra data that's different to the content they're sharing with me.

What else I'm picking up from just the visual way in which they're presenting themselves is different to. You know, classic data that I might have looked at before I came into the meeting. Because it's another form of data and you're aboard that instrumentality? I think that is fascinating.

And I, you know, I remember James and my colleagues, that that notion of feeling tired. I remember him doing exactly that years ago, in a meeting he came into with myself and some colleagues. So in sharing his lived experience of being with us. And us having in it really shifting the conversation to a different place. And sort of seeing that model was really helpful. How you do that?

Martin Saville 9:07
Absolutely. And it really pushes the notion of data actually doesn't. Because actually, if you've got a conventional notion of what data is all about. That's not going to include you know, how you feel sitting in a room with people.

But actually, the idea of self as instrument invites you to take a much broader take on what we mean by data. And what we consider to be relevant. To pay attention to or at least wonder about. You know, we're not saying that, you know, when I'm tired it means this.

But what we might say is that we sit in a room with people and suddenly we feel tireder than we we felt coming into it. We might get interested in that wonder about it. Wonder about it out loud. Or use it as a basis for framing a question, you know.

Even if it's just kind of, how's everyone doing? I had a recent experience with a group where, what they were saying. We did a kind of check in. It was a team I'm working with, and I asked how everyone was doing.

They came up with very kind of, positive words, you know, excited and so on. And somehow it just didn't sit with my experience of being with them. It just enabled me to say, okay. So listen to what everyone's just said, and, you know, what, what do you make of that?

There was a bit of a pause, and then people went, yeah, they're all very positive words, aren't they? And then there was a little bit of a smile and a giggle. And a sense of, you know, is that how we're really feeling?

Just that sense of, of dissonance was enough to give me the basis to ask a question that then led to a very fruitful set of conversations about what it was really like, and how is it as a leadership team to talk about positive stuff? And what do we do with the negative stuff?

And what does that mean, in terms of the permission that we give to the people that report into us? You know, it was a lovely, rich vein, but came.

Carolyn Norgate 11:21
So that care, so yes, it's data, and it's another source of data. So the care, but what they were saying here, is that that care that we have with any data, which is what's asking a question that's, you know, deep thinking about it as data not not rushing to interpretation.

Yeah absolutely. Which is easily done with any kind of data. So but this is, you know, with this for, yeah, treat it the same way. Treat it as data as opposed to doing your own sense making, and throwing that into the system, do the sense of making together. Yeah,

Martin Saville 11:59
But it speaks really, to your point around needing to look after yourself. Because actually, if you come into a room in a state, you know, you're not going to be in a place where a you've got the bandwidth to pay attention to even how you're experiencing the group.

Or, and particularly, you won't be able to separate out, what's your stuff from, what's the stuff if you like, of the group, you've just walked into. If you if you're, you come in, and you've got all sorts of things going on for you. You, you, you just can't make separation.

And so there's something about for me, about, you know, the importance to your point of looking after yourself and also getting to know yourself kind of getting to know. And of course, this is something that you mentioned the helping professions.

So, you know, in all the kind of training around, you know, social work or therapy or coaching or teaching. Or you know, that there's, there's this notion of, of paying attention to, to yourself and kind of getting to know what's what, what's yours and what's not yours. So that you can you can hold a separation and enables you to kind of inquire into the stuff that that might not be yours.

Carolyn Norgate 13:22
So something about just noticing what a complex concept is, particularly I think, if you're new field, so you know, thinking about if you're listening to this, and you're new to the field, there's, there's a lot in here.

But even in the few minutes, we've been talking, we've started unpacking this, the sense of it being a craft, and how you show up and we might talk about that as a practice. So using using yourself as an instrument is is part of our practice, I think.

We'd say it's a practice in itself it's a you know, it's a line in our practice. It's it enables you to to be to diagnose so to use yourself in an embodied way. So it's not just thinking about how you're showing up so you'd.

Like your point you made just then Martin, if you if you're grabbed in a previous meeting, you know rushing into this one what is it you need to do in between to come in present centred, ready to be able to work with what this client throws at you and what this particular element of today is, so there's that? How is, not just how am I showing up, but you know, am I ready to show up?

Martin Saville 14:37
Yeah, absolutely. In a sense that that sort of brings us back to that notion of of the instrument as the the intervention, doesn't it? You know that in some way how I show up. What what it's like to be on the receiving end of me?

If you like it is it, that's a thing, you know, that's, that's the thing. So two people can come in and work with the group and the two people can have sort of, you know, equal or equivalent levels of experience and know how and skill and so on.

Yet, working with one has a very different feel to working with the other, you know, and actually, you know, one might be able to get away with challenging things that the other one might not, for example, and so there's something about how you, how you pay attention to that, and how you hone that, and how you how you you cultivate that deliberately on purpose.

And so for me, you know, there's, one example of that is a colleague who is, you know, her her thing in terms of her value set and her a belief about what makes a healthy organisation, it's very strongly around inclusion and ensuring that everyone's voice is heard. And of course, you know, that's very congruent with an OD approach. In terms of making sure that there's a wide range of points of view and perspectives included, and everyone gets to feel part of that.

But there's something about because that's what she stands for. When, when she's in a meeting, clearly, there's stuff that she's doing, versus inviting people in, managing things in such a way that it's not the same people that always get to speak, you know, and some of that might be about the intervention she makes or the design of the session that she creates.

But some of it's about just kind of how she shows up. You know, there's just a way that she is that means that when she's in a meeting, somehow it's easier for people to speak up who might not otherwise get to.

I think that's a really important dimension to this, because then you know, what you get into is well, what makes you that kind of person. Of course, you've got to start looking inwards, haven't you. You've got to start looking at, you know, why does that matter to you so much.

What does that mean, you're going to be sensitive to? And what does that mean, you're going to be blind to and where might you overcook that? And where might you be oversensitive to it?

Carolyn Norgate 14:38
What's, you know, what are some of the things that really, as you said, sensitive? What are some of the things that typically grab you? Have you done? Have you done the work you need to do with those so that they grab you less?

Even if you, you know, whether you have or you haven't, when those conditions are present, how do you then respond in a way that you're not? Because, you know, it's, that's, that's not that's not that situation? This is x client and x Organisation? Yes. You know, me and whoever, so that you can really be present to them?

Martin Saville 18:13
Absolutely. And so go ahead.

Carolyn Norgate 18:19
Well, no, I think that's, again, that's the complexity of this, because it's both showing up as yourself. And it's managing yourself. So there's a, there's a discipline to this.

So it's, you know, there's, it's almost a sort of double edge, it's like, you know, showing up fully as me, you know, as present and as grounded as I can be, and, you know, able to take in data and use myself as an instrument.

And I'm also managing myself. So that, I mean, I noticed I do, what I do sometimes is, I sit with a client, I hear what they're trying to do, I hear where they are, and I find myself getting really excited on their behalf, because I sort of think ah you could do this, do this. And then I you know, I have to discipline myself.

And think, and it's not, A it's not mine. To do that with B, I'm seeing potential because of experiences I've got that aren't experiences they've got. Now at some point, we might bring those experiences together. And that's partly why they've asked me to help.

But, you know, I need to manage when I share that and not overwhelm the client. And you know, so there's, there's those sorts of moments of discipline, you know, whether it's got a grab or whether it's about an excitement, or whatever it is.

How are your best self your most useful self in that scenario? It's not being unbounded. It's not. This is me and all you get.

Martin Saville 19:55
Absolutely. There's a nice expression from Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones in their book about leadership, which is around using yourself, or being yourself with skill, you know.

Which I quite like as a sort of summary to that, that that point, he's in their Harvard article, Why should anyone be led by you? You know, a leadership article interestingly, and of course, you know, they don't use the term self as instrument there.

But use of self as an instrument is as relevant for a conversation about leadership as it is for a conversation about organisation development practice, or any of the other kind of things that we were we were talking about.

And I guess, you know, that that gets us also on to this idea of the Pygmalion effect. Which I think is why, you know, there's a real responsibility for us to, to manage ourselves, you know, to your point, because the Pygmalion effect is the idea that you'll rise to my expectations or fall to my expectations, you know, if you like.

So the classic example was, was that experiment they did in the 50s, I believe, where they took a class of children split them in two. They were comparable children, in terms of ability. They told one teacher, that they were dealing with very gifted children.

And they told the other teacher that their group was a group of children who are really struggling. Then they looked at how the children did. And what they found was that the children who had a teacher who thought that they were gifted did better.

So actually, there's something about us really having to take responsibility for how we think and feel about people. Because we can create a self fulfilling prophecy if we if we don't take that seriously.

And then if we connect that to the idea that we were talking about a few minutes ago, which is that it's very easy to jump to interpretations. You know, we see something happening in the world, we immediately make a meaning of an interpretation.

Without noticing, we've done that, so that they get the classic, you know, I see you go red. And I immediately say, that means you're embarrassed. When actually it might simply mean you're hot or, you know, any other reasons.

And what I might experience is I saw you get embarrassed. That might be how I see it in my own head, yeah, which has the interpretation embedded into it. So then, if I, if I then see, you get embarrassed, you know, in quotes, over a period of time, I might assume that you're someone that is easily embarrassed.

And that's then a kind of an assessment I hold of you. I bring that into my relationship with you. And because of the Pygmalion effect, actually, that has an impact on how you show up, you know, and then imagine there's a power relationship between us.

And all of a sudden, there's a self fulfilling prophecy that I've created, because I haven't paid attention. Good attention to my use of self, essentially.

Carolyn Norgate 23:15
Which takes, which is also the ladder of inference. Just linking back to one of the classic models of the field. You've just walked people through there, Martin.

Martin Saville 23:26
Yeah, of course, you know, turning that around, you know. The huge potential if we could only see the best in people or imagine the best in people, you know, be be that invitation to them.

Carolyn Norgate 23:39
And I think that's, that's fascinating. You think about that sort of appreciative mindset and the problem, the deficit mindset, and it makes me think of perceived weirdness index.

Which I know, Mary Anne Rayleigh and John Johanson had often talked about in their article. Or one of their articles themselves use of self as instrument. Because I, you know, I have spent so long working with appreciative mindset and helping organisations think that way as a kind of cultural challenge to their norm it's a really natural thing for me to go into a meeting that way.

And equally, if I, if I don't pay attention to where they are and what their normal way of talking about an issue is, I may actually lose a bit of my empathy with the client. And damage the relationship quite quickly, because that might be too weird.

Yeah, but it for a starting point. And it might be that we can move, you know, a gentle question around. Yeah, you know, that sounds like a lot. Really, really hear that. Tell me about some of the things that are working. What are they? I'd love to hear a bit more about it.

Then we can just start balancing a little bit and just maybe get the client into a position that. Where, you know, they're not seeing the potential in themselves to be able to lead their way out of this. To be able to work well and lead their organisation out of it. But that positive mindset that we're coming in with, that appreciative mindset isn't necessarily the first thing that they can cope with.

Martin Saville 25:23
I couldn't agree with you more. It's very challenging doctrine, actually, when things are terrible, and you care about people. And there's a lot of terrible things going on. To sort of say, oh, well, you know. Taking an appreciative approach can feel very flippant, and unempathic.

That team I was talking about, could argue, well, that's what we were seeking to do. And, of course, the point is that, actually, when we talk about taking an appreciative approach, what we're not doing is pushing away the darkness, we're, we're acknowledging it, we're letting that in.

We're saying even though, this and this, and this, actually, somewhere, somehow something is working, and let's, let's also attend to that, and focus on that. And, you know, for me, personally, I find that can be really challenging.

I'm trying to develop a practice at the moment, you know, with the world being, as it is of deliberately paying attention to things that I noticed that I'm grateful for, and it's something that I find is a very kind of nourishing experience.

I take my dog out, and I start paying attention to what I'm grateful for right now, in the moment, and you know, the list can be endless. And at the same time, if I do that, to a point where I don't allow myself to feel an experience.

And touch in with the sadness, and the grief and the, you know, the, the worry about the state of the world, it can leave me feeling quite ungrounded and slightly rigid, and, not terribly useful to myself or anyone else.

Inevitably, it will out so so, you know, there's something about how how we, we hold both of those, and again, that that, for me, is a dimension of this idea of use of self, it's how we kind of cultivate that ability to, to contain, contain all of that at once, you know, when it pulls in different directions.

Carolyn Norgate 27:32
Yeah, and going back, I want to come back to how we develop self, because I think that's a really lovely example. How developed our use of self. Rather, there was something you said earlier, I just wanted to capture.

Again, it was about the double edge is the right word, but the complexity of this concept, which is, as an OD, change practitioner, you know, whatever your, your orientation is, externally or internally, we're often brought in or asked in, because someone either noticed already.

And they like having us in a conversation, they have a sense that the world will help them see the world slightly differently, help them out of, you know, hold their, you know, metaphorically hold their hand, go on the journey of change with them, or help them with a particular sticky issue.

So there's a sense that they, they want and like some provocation, you know, often quite gentle. But you know, that that mixture of support and challenges what there after and we then have to manage that in a way that we stay in relationship with them?

Yeah, get in relationship if it is a new one, and then stay in relationship with them, and figure out how hard to poke, when to poke when to bring something new in, how far down the perceived wierdness index to go, how different to their current way of thinking, we present ourselves, how differently to their way of thinking.

And I think that's, that for me, all falls within the bucket of use of self as instrument because that those constant judgments you're making around should I go there, or should I go there? How much do you know if I emphasise too much with how difficult everything is?

Do I just then collude. But if I don't empathise enough, they may just think I don't hear them. I'm not you know, I don't you know, I'm not passionate enough about their issue and unlawful person to help. So you're just there's a there's a constant line, little tight rope that you're walking around a bit more that way a bit more bit more that way.

And I think that's where that kind of noticing what's going on in yourself, noticing the data you're getting from your client, pausing, internally pausing literally in the conversation to check things out. Sometimes we're doing a bit of that without noticing.

So there's sometimes a little bit of a replay that goes on. Around what why did that work so well? What am I integrating into my practice that maybe I didn't even notice? But if I can notice it afterwards, then I might be able to use it with that client, because that's a really sticky one.

Martin Saville 30:28
I love that. So there's something about catching yourself doing it right. So that you can make it yours, you know, and there's something about you may do what you do in the moment.

Because, you know, you're always, you know, you can't, you can't be consciously paying attention to all this stuff. So you're, you know, you're, you're at one level, you're just doing what you're doing. But then, you know, so Well, how do I learn?

Well, I can reflect. But also, with most of my clients, you know, even if I don't quite get it right in the moment. Or at least with hindsight, I look back and I think I wish I'd done that differently. Or I could have done that differently.

There's always another go, isn't there? So so if you can then reflect back on it and think, Oh, actually, I wasn't paying attention to this. And perhaps I could have been, you know, actually, next time that comes along, you can pay attention to it, or you can raise it.

It's dawned on me that without reflecting on our previous session that, you know, I could have paid attention to this, or we could have talked about this. And there's, that's the thing about all of these sorts of things is that we're dealing in the world of patterns, aren't we and things repeating and, and so on.

Carolyn Norgate 30:28
What's a productive pattern with this client? Relationship? What might more productive look like if I can push it a little bit further, but you know, even if I can see that there's a scale of there's 10 I could go to, but we're at two at the moment.

Maybe I'm gonna get to three or four and the next meeting, and that's, that's fine. You know, and of course, I don't know. So I don't know the impact of the conversation, and how it will we be playing out with them?

So until I'm back in the meeting, and I pick up some data that shows that they they're basically left to five? Yeah, right. Okay, we've, yeah, we're in it. You've absorbed a whole load of stuff and moved. So I'll now move with you.

Martin Saville 32:35
And of course, they may have absorbed things that you you didn't even know, or have in mind. That mean, you know, the number of times people have said, Oh, when when this happened, or when you said this, that had a real impact.

And it's like, I don't even remember saying that, you know, let alone having an intention. So again, it's that idea that you turn up and show up and do what you do to the best of your ability, and skill, and something happens, and then you you respond.

And, and for me, actually, that's quite a kind of liberating way of thinking about it, because I'm someone who wants to try and get everything right. So there's a way in which, you know, I think it's probably possible to hear the conversation we're having, and and say to yourself, oh, unless I'm doing all of these things.

I'm not doing it right, or, and there's something for me about actually not holding that perspective, but sort of saying like, yeah, absolutely. You know, here are some things you could pay attention to, and, you know, other practices will have their things on their list, and then you come in and do what you do.

And over time, if you're doing plenty of practice and reflecting on it, and making sense of it. And in a learning mindset you develop and grow. That's certainly how I've learned learn to cultivate and develop this sort of aspect of my practice. Yeah,

Carolyn Norgate 34:05
I mean, you mentioned patterns earlier. So we talked about the pattern of the relationship and how that's developing, but, of course, use of self as instrument is going back to your path. One of the things I noticed as I sort of worked more consciously with this concept over the years is how when I was an internal.

I was often a full to on the consulting, what kind of consultant role are you playing? We talked about from Peter Block's work, you know, are you the expert, are you the parent or the collaborative partner. And there's an internal practitioner there was often the pull to expert pair of hands.

And I probably got better at being less pair of hands and an expert over the years in the internal roles. But that suggests you are turning up with an answer. And so you know how the movements you know. And of course, there's some process expertise we bring in terms of how might we, as a group talk about this.

So try to own your process expertise, but move away from content expertise about whatever the organisational systems issues are. But I think one things I noticed is how paying attention to using self as instrument helps me move away from that need to show up with some answers.

Or to have them in the moment, and I still get caught now and again, that kind of, you know, that moment of like, is there, am I supposed to have an answer on this? That habit is is, you know, it was pretty ingrained over the years and then realising, of course, with theirs not an answer.

This organisation has never been in this situation before, this leader has never been in this situation in this organisation before. Now there's lots of patterns of behaviour that this organisation would typically go towards to work with this.

And there's some patterns that I know might not be quite productive. But let's figure out what the pattern is for this situation right now, in this context, doing all of that internal kind of noticing what's going on from the noticing what's going on the data? I'm picking up? What's that? Say? All of that, helping me shift away from that? Have you thought about why don't you?

Martin Saville 36:36
But what I love about that story, or that that sort of imagined scenario is, you know, that moment of, am I supposed to have the answer here, you know, actually noticing that experience in yourself, if I catch it, and sort of voicing that in some way could potentially lead to all sorts of stuff around?

Gosh, well, you know, what, none of us know what to do here, you know, which actually, again, is a fairly radical thing to be able to say out loud in certain systems, you know, leaders are supposed to know, and, of course, the world is is unknowable.

And so, you know, speaking to that is, you know, heretical. Newspapers punish politicians for not knowing, and civil servants, for that matter. And yet actually how can anyone know, what to do about COVID or Brexit or these big, you know, cost of living crisis? You know, price of fuel?

I'm wondering, also, I mean, you know, we've been talking a bit around and speaking to this question of how you develop it? Develop your use of self? But there's a moment, an opportunity here to bring in the notion of practice more directly.

One of the things that I really like about this idea of practice - which obviously is, you know, very central to how we do what we do at Mayvin - how we think about OD. And indeed, it underpins our Masters as well.

But it's this, this idea that, how you do one thing is how you do everything. You show up, you know, so in parenting, or cooking or driving, or OD practice, you know. It's the same you doing them, so you show up. And there's this metaphor that I was introduced to by the sort of embodiment people that I worked with. It's around a two wheeled cart.

The idea is that, you know, imagine a whole horse drawn cart with two wheels, but the one wheel is the thing that you're doing, you know, the parenting or the cooking, or the OD practice, or the leading or the driving. And then the other is, is you and how you show up.

And the idea that actually, you can use any of those things as an opportunity to cultivate yourself. You know, so I talked earlier about being someone who feels like they need to get things right, you know, that shows up in all the things I do.

Obviously, there's value to that in some way, you know, it pushes me to get better and to pay attention and practice. But it also absolutely is the way I get in my own way. I overthink things, I overwork things, I won't try things out.

When I should just be sort of going with them. I'm trying to think about everything and therefore losing connection with what's really happening. And so there's a way in which, if I'm conscious of that kind of outlook.

As I try and improve my parenting or my cooking, or whatever I can have half an eye on. Okay, well, what's a way of doing this? Where I'm not trying to get it right? Where's that showing up for me? And noticing that. How can I loosen my grip on that and hold it a bit lighter? And so on and so for me, that's another dimension to this whole idea of use of self.

Carolyn Norgate 40:22
Yeah, and, and it links to. So if we were doing a programme for leaders. when we talk about the practice of leadership, we might not foreground use of self as instrument as the model. But we would talk about their practice as a leader.

And we would talk about practice experiments. So how can I in service? How can I pay more attention to wanting to write or wanting to have an answer? In service of the work I'm doing on A&E transformation?

For example, if their clinical leader. So it sort of threads through our work. Whether it's if we're doing an OD&D programme, we'd fall round this concept, we'd talk about it. We talked about it in relation to working with your clients. When we're talking with with leaders, we'd probably just focus on it as a practice question.

But that notion of experimentation, and giving yourself permission to play with it, and just see what happens, not hold it, like the not beat yourself up a bit. You know, if it doesn't shift in three days, you know, I often talk to people about, notice the fact that you noticed you didn't do it.

That's still noticing, hopefully. Even if you say, oh, I just, you know, cook dinner in exactly the same way I always do. I followed the recipe to the absolute minute, you know. I had a meltdown because I only got salted rather than unsalted butter.

And then I thought afterwards, ah, I was going to like that still noticing. Absolutely. It was the next experiment. Now, you've noticed that you did that? What's the next experiment? And I think that's when I was talking earlier about those little micro judgments and walking the tightrope.

I think that's, that's all a version of that. It's just the practice of it, how to speed it up a bit. On a really good day, you do it quite well. And I'm not we're not all of us having really good days, every single minute of the day.

So then you notice, as you said earlier, Martin, maybe after the meeting, but you can take it to the next meeting. It's, it's like, oh, okay, that's interesting, didn't strike me when I was in there. What was maybe going on for me that it didn't there's some learning that, but it's like, okay, what we can still, it's still data, we can still work with it. Still use it.

Martin Saville 42:56
I really love that. And I mean, I had a recent example, where I was working with a group . A team, top team, and one of them talked about how, what what she's working on. Each one's working on a particular aspect of their practice, you know, inside the context of a team development process.

And one of them talked about how they don't feel that they really embodying and fulfilling their their authority filling their, you know, feeling that their space. And they need to speak up a bit more take up more space.

I keep getting this feedback, and someone else said, Yes, you know, we've all agreed that this is, this is the issue, it's just a case of you doing it and what was interesting was the, I think, the mindset that they were bringing with this idea.

That it was an intellectual problem to solve. And that, you know, everyone was agreed on the diagnosis. So now, all you've got to do is be more confident, show up differently, talk a bit more. And of course, that's not how it works.

It's an embodied thing. It's something that it's more like lifting weights. You develop, over time, the capacity to lift more and more weight. And by appropriate practice with the right kind of weight.

I think, that's another way in which we can be a bit kinder to ourselves. Because there was an element of, this person beating herself up. And of course, you know, given that confidence was the thing, that the last thing that was needed here was for them to beat themselves up.

So swapping to that idea that exactly what you said that noticing when you've not done it, but actually noticing it and thinking, well, what could I have done? And over time practising, practising and continue to pay attention.

Getting to the point where that sort of hindsight is more immediate in the past to the point where you get to the idea of mid sight. Which is oh, you can watch yourself not not quite doing the thing that you're working on.

But actually, it's only by going through that kind of process of the hindsight and the mid side that you then get to foresight. Where you see a fork in the road in front of you, and you go, okay. Actually, I've got a different choice here.

And so I really liked that learning model. I think it's Patricia Clarkson's a Gestalt person. But I think it speaks to this idea of, of practice and the idea of practice as a noun and a verb. Something is my practice, or my leadership practice, my OD practice. And I'm practising, practising it.

Carolyn Norgate 46:00
And it links to me that example, you've given that to that the different ways of knowing model. So yes, you're you know, that that person in that group, conceptually knew that, that's what they needed to do.

But that doesn't mean that it's become you know, that they've been able to integrate it as a practice yet. In terms of that, you know, they're practically know exactly how to do that. But they've probably got some capacity of showing up confidently and speaking a bit more in other settings. Right.

And so how might they access a bit more of that version of themselves? In those exco, exec type meetings? Or am I just I'm gonna remember someone, one of the models I really like in terms of developing myself, I've used it quite a lot.

It is, how can you be a little bit more Martin, or a little bit more, whoever, and just sort of model some of what they bring. And then realise that actually, you that's in you, anyway. Yeah, absolutely. But by externalising it as someone that you I just didn't think I had that capacity. But if I just show up a little bit more like that, oh look at that.

Martin Saville 47:15
Oh, yeah. Lovely. Bring a bit more. Bring a bit more Carolyn into this. Yeah,

Carolyn Norgate 47:20
I love it. But the other thing I think you mentioned, it was really critical there. We go back to how do you develop yourself as instrument is in that that group process, you talked about. They'd given her feedback.

The group had given the feedback. That is one of the key ways that you access the blind spot stuff, that you're not seeing it. Someone recently. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about the feeling like I need to be an expert.

So this was in a less classic sorting role, but a more of a being, faculty. Being a facilitator of other people's learning. And in that scenario, I really got caught in that path, you know, that I needed to know the answer, the theories, the models.

And my colleague, who I was co-facilitating with when we were group breakouts, just sort of gently brought that in. That sort of like, just, you're not, seem to be showing up as, in the same way you normally do.

What's going on here, you know? I've got a hypothesis is it might be this and I was like, Ah, yes, that all happened, which I hadn't seen as much in client work. But suddenly, showed up, because I was in just a slightly different mode of operating.

Martin Saville 48:50
Yeah, very, very nice. I mean, as we close, is it worth just talking about how will this shows up in the Masters. And the idea of a practice based learning question?

Carolyn Norgate 49:00
So just to circle back to that example.,I was giving earlier about holding. Holding a question, which is about how you show up. We typically use some of the work, our colleague and associate Richard Hale, developed around action and action learning questions.

Which we, you know, variously call an OD question if you work with OD colleagues. Or practice based question, or leadership question, but it's all about your practice. Holding that inquiry through a period of time and working on it with yourself. Working on it with your learning set and your facilitator.

So you're getting your internal feedback, you're getting your group feedback, you're writing and thinking about it. So in an accredited programme, like a master's, you would reflect on it in all those spaces.

And then you'd also go through another loop of writing up, why you'd develop the question? So how can I show up with more authority in executive meetings? Then talk about maybe why that that question was pertinent for you? And how it shifted over the period of time that you were inquiring into.

It may have shifted from authority to bringing your voice in, but not necessarily, authority was less the issue. It was just that you weren't, people didn't hear you. And then you wanted them to hear you in multiple different ways that I'm an authority.

So the question might have changed. And it might have changed as a result of a couple of experiments you did that didn't really create a new pattern. So you tried changing it? And then that created some openings? So that was the inquiry you then really dug into?

Yeah, and that you're also thinking through. Particularly as on the Masters and the accredited programmes we do, you'd be thinking through who else is thinking about this? Where might I go? And do a bit of reading about it, or listen to a podcast or watch a TED talk?

So what's the sort of theory of knowledge around this that might be useful to me? That's the sort of, you know, in the sky. But actually, what's grounded in the ground for me is my practice. That's the kind of the key area, but also what else is going on?

So this comes back to a lot more you and I've been talking about today, Martin about our patterns. Our, you know, noticing, what are, you know, what's happening for us in a particular moment? So that the dynamics of the situation internally?

If that question about really getting your voice heard in meetings. Where there's power going on, there might be some particular dynamics that are different and different situations where maybe I can experiment a bit more.

When I'm in that subcommittee, and it's only three of the execs because they're slightly safer people to experiment with, then I can take it to the full meeting. So only by looking at those dynamics underground. Might you get that? So yeah, so a whole a whole sort of framework of helping people think about their practice. Anymore I can say on that.

Martin Saville 52:19
That sounds that sounds great.

Carolyn Norgate 52:22
We've probably talked plenty haven't we.

Martin Saville 52:25
Great. Good. Let's let's stop the recording.

Carolyn Norgate 52:30
Okey dokey.

Claire Newell 52:32
Thank you so much for listening to us today. And we hope to see you next time. Take care bye bye.

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