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Introduction to Relational Learning

Between now and Christmas, I intend to share 12 short posts, one per week, around the subject of ‘relational learning’ as a leadership practice. My starting point for doing this is rather selfish, in that it gives me an opportunity to:

  • learn about myself through my relationship with writing

  • improve my skill in how I bring the concept of ‘relational learning’ to life

Whilst it’s a learning opportunity for me, I hope it shares some ideas and questions around relational learning and engages with an audience for whom this concept might be either new or familiar.

I’m still relatively new to the concept of ‘relational learning’, first coming across it in October 2014, when I started my MSc in Organisational Development at Metanoia, based in Ealing, UK. The course, led by Jenny Mackewn and Simon Cavicchia, applies Gestalt, Complexity and Systemic ways of approaching leadership and facilitation of change. It significantly challenges how I perceive change, leadership and has rocked some core self beliefs. Most importantly, it has helped me understand how my view of the world shapes my thoughts, feelings and actions.

For me, one of my early insights was that, through my lens of liking structure, I have a tendency to disregard work that is unplanned as inferior. It’s been popping up over the last couple of weeks in response to starting these posts, my inner voice saying:

“they’ll be much better if you plan out the content upfront”

This experiment of writing ‘unplanned’ is to challenge this assumption and belief. What happens when I don’t plan them, what content will emerge? What can I learn about my connection between planning and quality?

And this is something that ‘relational learning’ enables: To learn about ourselves through our reactions to others, to things and to situations. Over the next week, when you find yourself having a ‘response’ to something, ask yourself these two questions:

  • How am I reacting to this situation?

  • What do my reactions tell me about my own assumptions about life and people?

I can't help it, I'm already thinking about what I might post next week! I look forward to seeing what feels most relevant when next week appears.

Felicity Hodkinson is a leadership coach working with individuals and groups, creator of ‘relational learning experiences’ and founder of Bend the River. She combines her marketing, commercial and change management experience of 20 years gained in small business and corporate FTSE100 companies with her passion for coaching individuals and organisations.

Email Felicity to explore how this coaching approach could help you develop your leadership practices. Alternatively, read her recent article on 'Softening the Goal Mindset' in Global Coaching Perspectives, July 2016 (the magazine from the Association for Coaching).

#relationallearning #leadershippractices #coaching

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