in living and leading
Hilary Ison | Facilitator and Trainer
“Presence can’t be learned simply as a skill, it has to emerge from within, from who you are and what you practice day by day. It comes from learning to be present to yourself, and for some, being present to a transcendent reality outside themselves.”
The power of presence is transformative.
Present, Open, Curious, Kind – this is the quality of presence we bring to one another that makes all the difference in leading, working together and growing others as leaders. You’ll know from experience when someone is really present to you – and when they’re not, and the impact that has on morale and commitment! We flourish in our relationships and work if we feel well connected within ourselves and to others, and to a sense of purpose and value in our work.
Being present, open, curious and kind is how I seek to work with leaders, teams, churches, and other organisations to grow their quality of presence in leading and working together to achieve their purpose.
The challenge for leaders is to embark on this journey for yourself, because we can’t give what we haven’t got. Truly effective and inspiring leadership is far more about who you are, the values you hold, and the place within yourself from which you lead, than what you do. Being present and authentic with others depends on your ability to be present to yourself and your own inner landscape and systems that have shaped you. This enables you to create an environment that helps others to feel safe, valued, and heard and where everyone can be confident and creative in leading and collaborating.
“Being present is simultaneously the simplest and most complicated experience of being human.”
I offer facilitation from a systemic perspective, creating a safe space in which questions can be asked and fresh thinking and insights can be generated. It’s also about holding that safe space with generosity and respect when difficult dynamics in the system emerge with their potential vulnerabilities and anxieties.
It’s a way of working that is ready to work with whatever emerges in the moment, working with the ‘felt sense’ as well as ‘making sense’ in reflecting on what is experienced. This can be in a 1:1 context, in a team, an organisation or congregation. It’s not about applying a ‘one size fits all’ training package. It can be challenging, but the potential for insights to emerge and perceptions of oneself and others to change is very effective and profound.
‘People’s presence with one another comes from the aliveness of eye gaze, voice, gestures and touch…. and choice of words’
Sarah Peyton, The Resonant Self, 2017
I believe I am a facilitator at heart – bringing a quality of presence and attention to people and processes to enable change in people and systems. One of the things I have most enjoyed doing was facilitating the process of establishing the Yorkshire Regional Training Partnership for multiple Church and educational stakeholders involved in delivering training for ministers, lay and ordained, in the Church of England and the Methodist Church. It meant exercising the kind of leadership that connects and collaborates, and draws out the leadership, creativity and commitment of others while containing anxiety generated by change.
As a priest, I have learnt that leadership in church contexts is incredibly complex, nuanced, and requires a high level of personal and spiritual resilience as well as developing understanding and skills in leadership. My focus is in facilitating leaders and teams to grow in their ability to lead and work together creatively with mutual accountability. Working in this way to bring about change inevitably generates anxiety and vulnerability and being able to tolerate the discomfort of this, for yourself and others, to hold open the creative space for growth will be vital and challenging.
My leadership and facilitation experience has been very varied in Church, Health Care and Voluntary Sector contexts. I have facilitated leadership teams in these settings in building capacity to work together; developing vision and strategy; and engaging in cultural and organisational change and development.
MA Consultancy & the Organisation: Psychoanalytic Approaches D10 (Tavistock & Portman Clinic UEL) 2000-02
MA Theology, Culture & Society, Manchester University, 2005-8
Systems Constellations Practitioner Training 2016-7
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'How does Systems Constellations relate to your faith?' was the question I was asked at a Constellations session and the word that immediately occurred to me was 'authenticity'. Being authentic, being real with God, with oneself and with others is what Christianity...read more