Niall McShane Niall McShane . May 16 . 4 min read

Embracing Space: A Key to Effective Leadership in Agile Environments

As you scan this first line, you're assessing whether to keep reading and if the information is worth your time. In our fast-paced corporate world, it's crucial to understand that while we cannot save time, we can choose how to spend it. In this post, I want to make a case for integrating space into your life—both at work and in leisure—as a means to enhance your performance and effectiveness as a leader.DALL·E 2024-05-16 12.08.54 - A clean and professional image depicting a modern office environment with a spacious, minimalistic design. In the foreground, a senior executive is siIn my years of coaching and consulting across various industries and organizations, I have consistently encountered one common issue: busyness and a lack of time. Many executives and senior managers express a strong desire for change but struggle to find the room to think, let alone implement new processes or behaviors.

The Concept of Space

Space, in this context, refers to the mental and physical room to consider and embrace change. This concept can be applied on multiple levels:

  • - Individual Level: Taking time to breathe, reflect, and exercise personal agency.
  • - Team Level: Organizing offsite meetings, retrospectives, and social events.
  • - Organizational Level: Hosting innovation events, fostering a humanistic culture, and ensuring that workforce policies and lived values align with the organization's mission.

Starting with the Individual

Creating space begins with the individual. Often, you must prioritize this yourself, as the systems and societies around you are unlikely to do it for you. Our environments tend to consume our time unless we actively manage it. Developing the skill to reserve time for introspection and purposeful consideration of your situation and performance is increasingly vital, especially as attention spans shorten and people skim through digital content in search of quick dopamine hits.

The Importance of Reflection

A significant portion of my executive coaching revolves around helping busy leaders schedule time to simply "be." This is not about solving problems or thinking critically but rather about sensing how they are doing in a broader sense. Are they effective? Are they leveraging their strengths, or are they being swayed by their environments to the point of losing themselves?


Creating Space for Teams

At the team level, creating space means more than just scheduling meetings. It involves fostering an environment where team members can reflect and connect without the pressure of immediate tasks. Offsite retreats, regular retrospectives, and informal social gatherings can provide the necessary space for teams to innovate and improve.

Organizational Space

On an organizational scale, space is about more than physical or calendar time—it's about the culture. Organizations must intentionally create environments that encourage innovation and humanistic values. This can include dedicated innovation events, policies that promote work-life balance, and a mission that genuinely values employees' well-being.

The Benefits of Space

Integrating space into your routine can lead to several benefits:

  1. Improved Decision-Making: Time for reflection leads to better, more thoughtful decisions.
  2. Enhanced Creativity: Space allows for creative thinking, which can lead to innovative solutions.
  3. Increased Productivity: When individuals and teams are not constantly in reactive mode, they can focus on what truly matters.
  4. Better Work-Life Balance: Creating boundaries and time for oneself can improve overall life satisfaction and reduce burnout.

A Call to Reflect, Not Just Act

This post is not a hard sell or call to action but rather an invitation to consider how incorporating space into your routine could enhance your effectiveness as a leader. Reflect on how you spend your time and whether you allow yourself the necessary space to grow and improve.

In conclusion, the challenge is not just about managing time but about creating and protecting space for reflection and growth. By doing so, you can become a more effective leader and a more fulfilled individual. If you find yourself needing guidance in this journey, remember that professional coaching can provide the support and structure you need to create and maintain this vital space in your life and work.

By making space a priority, you not only improve your own performance but also set a powerful example for your team and organization.

To book some time with and create space for change with a Source Agility coaching session go here.

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