Depth, space and environment: Why you need them in your next leadership programme

October 20, 2021
Danielle North

As we strive to help upcoming leaders perform professionally at their highest level, we know that great learning and development, and notably their planning and prioritisation skills are key.

With wellbeing in mind, we may encourage people to plan their workload appropriately to foster a healthier balance. Or we establish a structure around weekly or monthly planning to help ground people to their top priorities or goals.  


But what about championing upcoming leaders to plan that bit further into the future? How do we help them to shut out the day-to-day or week-to-week events of business life so that they can think with clarity about the bigger agenda at hand? 


From conversations we have regularly with leaders and business directors, finding this precious time for longer-term thinking is always in short supply. As we’ve worked with individuals across companies and cultures, we’ve come to the conclusion there are three keys to facilitating this personal leadership change - depth, space and environment.  


1.    Depth 

When we think at a strategic level, we need to ask bigger questions of ourselves. As leaders we have to be intimately connected to our purpose, vision and values. This depth is much harder to cultivate when it comes after a tactical or operational thinking state.Switching our level of depth takes time – we often need to ease into it gently. Without this consideration around depth, the quality of our reflections and insights are profoundly impacted. 

In any Pause sessions we run, we design and manage the transition to deeper depths for our participants. This may include the questions that are asked; the pace that is cultivated; and the introduction of unusual sessions that lead us to new places – they all all open up new and much deeper channels of thinking.  


2.    Space 

Our unconscious mind is incredibly powerful.There are thought processes and beliefs running in your brain that will only surface when the conscious mind takes a suitable break. We often hear of those that have their best ideas in the shower and we may have experienced something similar ourselves, so we know it to be true, but it still feels against what we know to stop and create space. It feels uncomfortable and unproductive.  

Somehow, we need to help our upcoming leaders overcome the cultural pressures of being always busy and always on so they can courageously create space and let their unconscious mind bring creative solutions or ideas about the future to the surface. 

And so, pausing in this way is in fact best seen as a brave and bold act.  


3.    Environment 

Over the last year our homes have often been our place of rest, work and play. Whilst high on the convenience and cost factor, they fail in terms of variety and stimulation. Sitting at the same desk or kitchen table with an intention to think about the future for a few hours will only go so far. New environments, ideally incorporating nature, play a key role in facilitating future planning and creative strategising.  

When considering environment, we also must factor in those we surround ourselves with – are they in the same zone of looking forwards or are they caught up still in the tactical thinking. How is the energy of those around us either supporting or hindering our capacity to plan for the future?  

Where hybrid training is the model of the future, the environment for both digital and in-person development needs to be carefully considered. For instance a brightly lit, windowless corporate office with beige and black colours is going to have a very different impact on thinking to a space with calming colours, oxygenating plants, and view that expands out to the horizon.

Design with depth, space and environment in mind 

Many learning and development professionals are often thinking about content, programme schedule and the logistics in this new world. We’re making a bid for these other crucial elements to be factored in.  


If you’d like to learn how a Pause session might fit into your programme, you can book a virtual coffee with Pause Global founder Danielle to discuss. Click here for a call.

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