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On the Gift of Spaciousness

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Mountain and lake scene
Photo by Kameron Kincade on Unsplash

What do leaders need? Better yet, what are they craving? Let me paint a picture of a modern leader to see if it hits home. Your calendar is packed with meetings, you have 10 fires going on, 10 stakeholders asking you for things, 10 “#1” priorities, 10 direct reports looking to you for guidance and growth opportunities, and oh yeah, a life outside of work that’s important to you. It feels like you spend all your time in your urgent buckets (important and not important), you feel like you’re not making any progress on your important and not urgent bucket, and your manager wants you to be “more strategic”.


Any of this sound familiar?


As a coach, or if this person reports to you, you want to support them. You want to offer help, advice, or better yet, some curious questions to help them think through their problems. Next time you have a 1-1 or coaching conversation with this person, I invite you to try a different intention: create space for them. Space to pause, to breathe, to reflect, to just be.


Creating space is a phrase that coaches will be familiar with and might sound esoteric to others. In some ways it’s simple, and in others, it’s much harder than it sounds. Here are a few ideas you can try in your next conversation:


  • Literally invite them to pause and take a few mindful breaths.
  • Invite them to reflect on what’s going on with them in any way they want.
  • Avoid or limit being task-oriented, don’t ask for status and wait until the end to ask about next steps.
  • Ask curious open-ended questions with no agenda other than being curious.
  • Manage your own emotions so you can show up with presence.
  • Smile, relax, slow down.

I encourage you to try it and notice if anything shifts for them and/or for you. Play with this and see what the gift of spaciousness can do for you and your leaders. 

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