5 + 1 Questions to... Sara Leysen

As a trainer in Sociocracy 3.0 and Non-Violent Communication, Sara Leysen supports teams and organizations with questions around shared leadership, organizational culture and participatory methods.

Together with Mira Bangel and Bart Oste, she developed a model to support teams talking about difficult topics. In “Strong team talk about the elephant” you’ll discover how you can facilitate open and constructive dialogue around tensions in teams.

As a (team)coach, Scrum Master or as co-workers it’s important to build an environment where people feel safe to discuss tensions or conflicts. When tensions are ignored they grow, they become bigger. Conflicts and tensions can be an opportunity to grow as a team. W

More info about this training can be found here.

1. What is a mindset that supports effective collaboration to you?

In Sociocracy 3.0, there is a concept called ‘artful participation’. Artful participation means regularly asking yourself the question: ‘Is my behavior in this moment the greatest contribution I can make to the effectiveness of the collaboration?’

When I ask myself this question a few times throughout the day, my behavior in the team changes, which will, in turn, inspire other team members to become more artful. I think any good team collaboration depends on team members having the courage and awareness to ask themselves this question often. 

2. What’s your favorite tool or method you use during your coaching?

I’m passionate about Sociocracy 3.0, because to me it is a very powerful toolbox and mindset to make teams and organizations more agile and responsive. It also makes collaboration more fun because team members get empowered to bring their unique contribution and voice to the table.

Non-Violent Communication (also called Connecting Communication) helps me a lot when a team gets stuck due to interpersonal tension and conflict. Together with my colleagues Mira Bangel and Bart Oste, we developed a 5-step model to talk about difficult topics in an open and constructive way. We saw there was a big need for teams to learn how to have difficult conversations with each other in a way that fosters safety and trust.

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3. What book or website would you recommend?

When you want to strengthen principles like equivalence, transparency, accountability and effectiveness in your organization, I can heartily recommend ‘Sociocracy 3.0 – Unleash the Full Potential of People and Organizations’ by my iLean colleague Jef Cumps. A lot of teams and organizations get inspired after reading this book to start experimenting with processes in the team that support both results as well as well-being of the people.

4. What is essential for you during change processes in organizations?

In order for change to work, leaders of the organization must be fully on board and model the desired change. An organization can only evolve as far as its leaders have evolved.

Next to that, team members should be (co-)designers of the road map for change. They should be in the driver’s seat of the change journey from the beginning.

5. What is 1 Aspect of coaching teams you like the most?

To me, organizational growth is a result of personal growth, so in my team coaching, I love to focus on both these things. When we practice consent decision making in a team and team members get triggered into reflecting about themselves and their habitual emotional and behavioral patterns, I get pretty excited 😊. 

+1 Why does this world needs more Elephant Whisperers?

A lot of teams avoid tough conversations about interpersonal tension and instead talk or gossip about each other at the coffee machine. This usually results in an am atmosphere of unsafety and distrust, and ultimately people losing motivation. I think it’s super important for teams to be skilled in having tough dialogues with each other in an open and constructive way. That way there is psychological safety in the team and a team becomes a place where people can fully develop their potential. 

More info about the training ‘Strong team talk about elephants’ here