Inspired by the non-violent Japanese martial art Aikido, the Leadership Embodiment method helps people in all walks of life lead themselves and others with greater confidence and integrity. Leadership Embodiment incorporates simple techniques that people with any level of coaching or personal development experience can master.
Coach, author and trainer Anouk Brack has been practising Leadership Embodiment since 2010. She regularly teaches and writes on the topic. Below, Anouk shares her thoughts on why Leadership Development is an ideal set of practices at any stage of your personal development journey.
When I first encountered the concept of Leadership Embodiment, it was on the website of a conference from the Authentic Leadership in Action Institute. The conference was about systems change, with a strong focus on mindfulness. And since I was already very well-versed in those topics, I remember asking myself, ‘Is this really for me? Is there anything I can learn from this?’
Something kept me coming back to that web page, where I saw a picture of Wendy Palmer and kept reading about the courses she was giving on leadership and the body. It seemed like such a great fit for me, on the one hand. After all, I had spent years studying biology, and I have always been fascinated by the way stress and flow states affect our bodies, which kinds of hormones are involved, and how we can support ourselves to reach our best state, even under pressure. On the other hand, part of me was a little worried that I wouldn’t really be learning anything new.
In the end, I trusted my intuition and signed up for the course. And from the first moment, I realised I actually had so much more to learn from Wendy Palmer and Leadership Embodiment, especially because of the skill and experience that she brought to the courses. I still find it funny how kind of slightly arrogant and sceptical I was in the beginning.
Leadership Embodiment gives you the flexibility to integrate your past experiences and act more effectively, no matter what your educational or professional background is. Before I began practising Leadership Embodiment, I didn’t always understand why I had studied biology, for example. Was it a mistake? But now it makes so much sense, because it enables me to teach people the biology behind how stress and flow work in our bodies. So, now I am glad to see how everything comes together and makes sense.
I notice that having a background in biology helps me open some people up more to the practices, because some people benefit from a more scientific approach. Others are more in tune to energy and mindfulness, so they are already very open to the practices behind Leadership Embodiment. But no matter what, once you experience it for yourself, you will see that it puts you in touch with the most effective version of yourself.
I know that a lot of coaches have developed themselves a lot already. But my experience shows that Leadership Embodiment can still enhance your effectiveness. What makes it worth learning is that these are very practical tools that quickly show you how to enter into a more resourceful state.
Mindfulness is one of the key techniques we use in Leadership Embodiment. By practising mindfulness, you learn to adjust your state through a three-step process which I call the ‘three A’s’: awareness, acceptance and adaptation. First, you become aware of your state in the moment. For example, are you stressed or in the flow? Second, once you’ve become aware of your state, you accept it as it is. And third, once you’ve accepted your state, you can consciously enhance and adapt it through centering.
Stress has become a constant companion for most of us these days. And it’s only gotten worse since the start of the pandemic. When we’re under pressure, we are not our best selves. Our capacity for information processing, creativity and empathy are all much less evident when we’re under pressure.
Under this enormous pressure, people learn to function ‘in the eye of the hurricane’… to simply get the job done without suffering too much. But that’s no fun, and we often start bringing that pressure home with us. And then it starts impacting our relationships with the people we love the most.
This is one area where centering, the key practice from Leadership Embodiment, can help us all. Centering means assuming the right posture, breathing and focus, so that you quickly return to your resourceful state. It only takes five minutes at most, and it helps you enter the right state before you even step through the door. That way, instead of coming home in a stressful state, you’re ready to connect with and be a good leader to your children, for instance, instead of fighting with them to try to get them to go to bed or do their homework.
A lot of times, I hear from clients who tell me, ‘I used the techniques to center myself before I got home from a stressful day at work. Thank you so much! And “thank you” from my spouse!”
In my Leadership Embodiment practice, I work with leaders on all levels of organisations. I also work with coaches, trainers and consultants who then work with all kinds of people. What all these people have in common is that they want to develop themselves and be even better at what they do.
When we talk about ‘leadership’, what we mean is giving direction to yourself and others, and finding the inspiration to contribute to what really matters. It doesn’t matter what your job title is. Anyone gains from discovering their optimal state for making a meaningful contribution. In short, Leadership Embodiment is for everybody who wants to bring their best self to the space around them.