At November’s book Club, we discussed ‘Leadership Embodiment’ by Wendy Palmer and Janet Crawford.
The book looks at how our bodies influence our ability to create influence, presence and leadership. It adds to a growing body of work that draws a direct connection between body and mind, and goes further to look at how by managing our physical stance and position, we can influence our ability to move from ‘personality’ (a deep, instinctive need for control, approval or security) to ‘centre’, an objective and rational place where we can choose our responses to situations and more consciously manage the impact we have on others – ideally allowing us to create a more leader-like presence.
The book is divided into two parts. The first, written by Wendy, focuses on a series of exercises and simulations designed to help us create metaphors and physical anchors that let us find centre quickly and regularly. The second (the ‘science’), written by Janet, who works with Wendy, is a brief review of basic neuroscience discovery from the past few years that attempts to support the theories in the first half of the book through scientific observation. The two halves are very distinct, and almost feel like two different books.
Though most of us had taken something from the book (the idea we settled on was that we were ‘playing’ with some of the principles), we generally felt that the book was just ‘okay’, even as a quick read. Many of us had tried some of the exercises (and we tried one in the middle of Waterstones Piccadilly on Thursday morning at 10am, which may have raised an eyebrow or two), and most of us had taken away some small exercises to try, play with, and apply, like the idea of imagining letting words land in front of you in a conversation rather than enter your head directly; but the book is quite basic and only skates over the surface of a topic that will be familiar to many coaches. Similarly, the second part of the book is a good neuroscience primer for those new to the subject, and there were some useful points, but nothing much new for anyone who has even a passing interest in the subject.
We’d only really recommend it to those who have a new interest in expanding their coaching repertoire in this area; for leaders, the link between the harder neuroscience and the more somatic principles may not be strong enough to overcome any scepticism they might have.