Author, Executive, Consultant, Speaker

Detached Curiosity





"My life began in change, the ultimate change, when I was handed over at six weeks old and adopted into the welcome and hugely loving embrace of the Rowland family. I had experienced an ending, with my biological mother, at the very start of life. An in-between time, floating without family, in a Lancashire mother-and-babies home. And then here was a new beginning with my adopted family.

Born Wendy Juliet, I was renamed Deborah Anne. Since that cataclysmic time, no change has ever seemed insurmountable."


And so starts my latest book, Still Moving: How To Lead Mindful Change. It is, in part, a platform to share my personal ‘story of origin’ as an invitation to leaders to explore their life story too. Great change leaders understand how their leadership has been ‘formed’ so that  - in all the turmoil of change - they can tap into the deepest source of their being and, if necessary, intentionally regulate and shift their impulses in the present moment – the only thing, we can in fact change. In my book I continue…


" meant that I learned to live life on a boundary. As an adopted child I grew up with detached curiosity, an outsider in my own life.…Yet this detachment, this instinct to be alongside rather than inside gave me a helpful vantage point to observe and notice. I was intensely curious about people, in particular how they related to each other and formed systems. I could make good use of my fate."


I am very grateful to my earliest companion, detached curiosity. It led me into the enriching and systemically insightful academic discipline of anthropology. Subsequently in business, my predisposition to detached curiosity gave me great skill and a visceral instinct for working in the field of large system change  - where the combined skills of impartial detached observation and curious engaged noticing enable me to quickly and compassionately see the source of a system’s repeating routines – be that coaching an individual leader, a leadership team, an organisation or an entire eco-system.

What two or three words sum up your essence, or source? How has this led you to your life’s calling? And how do you bring that to bear in your leadership today?

What others say:

‘I’ve attended several change workshops over the years, however Deborah’s expertise in the field of change management and her facilitation style made the difference in self-examination and learning. She encouraged and motivated participants, individually and collectively, to think about the way a system can be changed from where we stand. Deborah is ‘number one’ in my book.’

Senior Vice President, Pharma