A Case for Leader's Pause and Reflection


“Who are you without the thought that you need to have it all figured out?”  -  Byron Katie

This article by Doug Montgomery and Liz Nottingham was posted on Linked In in July 2020

What is going on?

As a leader you may now find yourself leading in uncertainty. In a world where no-one knows very much anymore and all previous bets are off, there is a need for a leadership pause.

What is it like to be a leader and to find yourself in a place of “not knowing?”

What have we noticed about ourselves, what have we learned? 

What might be emerging as we step forward into the new future?

Surely, we have not gone through this crisis for nothing – let us honour the opportunities and learning it has provided us with a pause to reflect, recover and move forward. What is now possible if you no longer have to know?

What is Leadership Super-Vision?

 “Supervision is a working alliance between two professionals where supervisees offer an account of their work, reflect on it, receive feedback, and receive guidance if appropriate.  The object of this alliance is to enable the worker to gain in ethical competency, confidence and creativity as to give the best possible services to clients”.  (Inskipp and Proctor, 2001).

How does Super-Vision work?

As the leader and a company confidante, who can you talk to?

Working in either groups or in a one-to-one relationship the benefit of supervision is to provide a safe and confidential space for you to reflect on what you did, why you made the choices you did and how you did it. This supervision relationship is a supportive space for people to share their doubts, concerns and anxieties to learn about themselves. The consequence of not doing this reflective work is that we do not question and explore our patterns and triggers and therefore we do not change. The patterns in our relationships will continue to repeat.

The benefits of Leadership Super-Vision

The supervision relationship provides rich reflective learning as you work with your experiences as a leader using new models, methods and tools to examine relationships and dynamics between people. The supervisor is in service of your growth, development and wellbeing.  As the supervision relationship grows, this in turn ripples out into the relationships you are  having within the organisation. The quality of the supervision relationship is then modelled by you and emerges in your relationships within the business. The conversations change, the interventions change and the relationships enrich.

Doug shares, that, “during my time as a leader there was no one to speak to in total confidence; all my peer, colleagues, bosses, team members, HR support, had an agenda that usually included a role in measuring my performance. Now as a coach I get tremendous insight and learning from supervision, I wish there had been this form of safe reflective partnership available back then.”

Who are you now?

We are now in a period in our history where one can no longer hide. And remember that is a major reason why people stay busy. They keep the attention away from what’s inside them with displacement activity. Some people hope they can get through life without changing anything at all. Spoiler alert; we cannot get through this by not changing anything at all.  

We are not the same people we were at the start of the crisis. We have grappled with the unfamiliar, created new habits, found new routines and perhaps rediscovered old skills. 

No one has all the answers about how to operate in this crisis.  No one has it all figured out. We are all learning to live in real time and that can be disorientating.  What are you uncertain about, confused by, discomfited by?    Super-vision creates the space for that leadership pause and the ensuing learning that comes from naming it, acknowledging it and normalising it.

Reflect on:-

  • how am I emerging as a leader?
  • how might I use this pivot point?
  • what does this mean for me?
  • how might this reflective supervision partnership help me?

Who are we?

The authors, Doug and Liz, are independent accredited coach supervisors and experienced business leaders from different industries.   Doug’s a former research scientist and senior leader in the pharmaceutical industry and now runs an independent executive coaching and coach supervision practice.  Liz ‘s background is in senior HR roles, supporting and developing senior leaders.  We both trained in coaching supervision at the Coaching Supervision Academy, where we learned that “Who we are is how we supervise”.    We base our supervision offering on the premise that “Who you are is how you coach”.  

For further information and conversation about what this could mean for you, contactDoug by email to  Doug@Elmbank-Coaching.co.uk or Liz via email to liz.notts15@gmail.com  to arrange a call.