What holds me back?

For some time I’ve been in conversation with Julian Burton, change consultant, creative artist, facilitator and leadership coach, about an area we’re both fascinated by: how public sector leaders can bring to work more of what matters to them, more of what they’re truly capable of, and more of how they can benefit their organisations and the communities they serve.  We’re both deeply aware of the role of the relational in leadership and leaders’ fulfilment at work.


Bearing witness

Julian has created a number of pictures that have reflected scenarios we’ve each been witness to in our work, as well as in conversations that we have co-facilitated with public sector leaders. His pictures allow viewers to see their situations in literally visual terms – and that alone can bring a step forward.

Some of what I find striking about Julian’s picture at the head of this piece is what I see: the bowed, static posture of the figure at the desk, the suggested pressure of the hand on the shoulder, and the shackled leg.  The work pressures sucking away the individual’s values.  The spaciousness and colour of the part of the picture on the right.

What I experience, as my eye goes first to those two central grey figures and their context, is a feeling of stuck immobility, a sense of being stifled, and a threat to the North Star of values. Only then do I notice the light and the relief of the right-hand side of the picture, and a feeling of being able to breathe more freely – and also a sense of that being a remote dream.

And the picture provokes thoughts and curiosity for me about conscientiousness and care, about being seen and acknowledged, about space to reflect and create, about context and system, about intention and process, about awareness and impact, about complexity and relationship, and about movement and change.

I’m curious too about what you may see, experience and think when you look at the picture.  Is any sense of yearning triggered in you?


A space for conversation with like-minded leaders

If you’re a public sector leader, the chances are you want to do the right thing for the communities you serve, and yet you might sometimes feel held back from being able to do it.  You might feel torn between your own values, on the one hand, and the pressures and demands of your role, on the other.

In my experience, a safe and spacious space for conversation and for nurturing hope with like-minded leaders can make a significant difference. It can be a small island of sanity (in Meg Wheatley’s words) – a chance to be seen and heard, to explore what’s needed for you in your context, and to open up perspectives so that you can be aware of more of what’s happening, more of what the impact is, and more of the possibilities and choices that you may have available without realising.   It can be somewhere where you can refresh your sense of purpose and agency, and illuminate new choices and possibilities. Somewhere which enables a much clearer sense of the way forward.

This is the kind of conversation that Julian and I enable and facilitate.


If you’d like to join us for a facilitated conversation of this kind, please drop me an e-mail at lw@lindsaywittenberg.co.uk



Painting by Julian Burton of Delta7Change


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