DEBORAH Rowland
Author, Executive, Consultant, Speaker

Fierce Compassion

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Fierce Compassion

But that shadow has been serving you!  What Hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.

Rumi, Enough Words?

I have heard it said that pure compassion is ruthless. To help oneself - and others - transition, at times you have to be exquisitely fearsome, intensely tough – if not a little cruel, just as the best surgeons operate with cutting precision. Change leaders too need to fiercely and truthfully confront reality in order to shift it, at times making interventions that will harm certain parts of their organisation in order to ensure the ongoing strength and viability of the whole.

In my role as either change leader or coach I have always found that speaking the truth and approaching what most feels difficult and scary – however painful – strengthens, not weakens systems. We are released when truth and difficulty are acknowledged. When working with individuals, groups or whole systems I therefore encourage an openness to depth, a courage to peek into the shadow or disturbing elements of experience – as what we most fear could hold the clues as to what is most keeping us stuck. It’s what I call Edge & Tension leadership skill.

However, I ‘hold up the mirror’ and encourage leaders and teams to find their edge and speak their truth with systemic skill and empathy, always acting in service of the desired change outcome. If leaders cannot be comfortable in discomfort, they will never develop the capacity to lead major change. A participant on one of my leadership programmes once said to me, ‘Deborah, you have helped me see that more movement happens in the non-comfortable spaces!’

What others say:

‘Deborah brings a wealth of expertise in change and change management but more importantly takes risk and openly challenges the group to change themselves first “in the moment”.’      

VP L&OD, Pharma