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The Related Relational Leader: Getting to the heart of CSA’s Full Spectrum Map for Leadership by Elaine Patterson

Thought Piece 

The Related Relational Leader

Getting to the Heart of CSA’s Full Spectrum Map for Leadership

…because “WHO you ARE is HOW you lead”


An Ongoing Conversation


By Elaine Patterson



This paper explains how leadership ultimately exists both in and as a relationship with self, with others and with the world. It explains how this is captured at the heart of the CSA’s Full Spectrum Map “The Living Fields of Leadership”™ and how leaders and leadership developers can use the approach to improve contribution and performance. A case study is included to show the success of the approach in action.


“The Related Relational Leader”: Leadership as Relationship


At CSA we understand that the work is the RELATIONSHIP and the CONNECTIONS, which leaders create through the CONVERSATIONS they hold with themselves, with others and with the world in order to shape that world and deliver the results that matter. A leaders’ success or failure to deliver ultimately resides not from textbooks but in the quality of the human relationships which leaders create with themselves, with others and with the world as they live and work. How leaders show up and the energy they are transmitting directly affects results, reputation and outcome.

CSA have therefore coined the phrase “The Relational Leader” because everything a leader is or does is relational, is related and exists in the context of relationship either and or with and to themselves, with others and to the world. As the poet John Donne wrote:

“No man (or woman) is an island”

Leaders are people and not machines; and therefore leading is an act of our shared humanity in all of its glorious technicolor: the light and the dark; the good, the bad and the ugly. As Gardner (2006) writes:

“Our state of being is our only real source of our ability to influence the world”.

This requires the development of enhanced capacities and capabilities which sit at the heart of CSA’s approach for leaders to lead well in today’s unprecedented business challenges.


The Relational Heart of the Full Spectrum Map “The Living Fields of Leadership”

The secret powers of paying attention to relationship and relatedness has therefore been placed at the relational heart of CSA’s Full Spectrum Map (FSM) for Leadership “The Living Fields of Leadership”. (A detailed paper about the Full Spectrum Map is available for download from our website www.CSA-Leadership .com).

We have chosen the word “heart” because the organ of our hearts has an energetic magnetic resonance which our humaneness – our ability to love, connect and build relationships – which can transcend and transform current reality.

The heart of the FSM mirrors and defines the three core relationships, which sit at the heart of leadership. These are shown below and are

  • Leading self
  • Leading others
  • Leading in the world

Together they define WHO you are and WHO you are is HOW you lead. Each lens or dimension is inter-related and connected to the other.

This is not to ignore or downplay other more classic leadership competencies or models but to offer a powerful new lens, which oils the wheels of human awareness, consciousness and development and in so doing takes professionals to new higher levels of performance. This lens also ensures that the impact of classic leadership competencies is maximized, not compromised.

The quality and nature of the super-Visory conversation is ideally suited to opening up these inter-related areas for reflective inquiry and learning. (See the section on our Approach on our website or in our brochure available for download from




The Relational Heart of FSM “The Living Fields of Leadership”

Leading Self

At CSA we believe that the essence of being a successful leader and the act of leading starts (and ends) with the leaders relationship with themselves, because the self is always present. Leadership is an expression of the self in action; leaders are both their own instrument and tool and have nowhere to hide. As Jon Kabat-Zinn called his book : “Wherever You GO, There You ARE”! So in order to relate and connect to others, leaders must first learn to relate and connect to themselves.

Leading is therefore an expression of our shared humanity; and learning to lead is first and foremost a radical act of learning of lead self because it is this which unlocks a leaders ability to work effectively with others, to co-create a shared vision and to act with integrity in the world. It is these relationships which leaders can choose to either consciously nurture or blindly sabotage minute by minute day by day. And it is only when leaders shine in their own potential and uniqueness can they inspire others to shine in theirs to optimize personal contribution and inspire collective action.


Questions to unlock this foundational awareness and capability are for example:

Who am I?

Who defines me?

Who am I when I lead?

Who am I in my life?

What am I afraid of?

What energy am I transmitting?

What, Who or Where are my triggers and blind spots?

What are my passions and deepest desires?

What is calling me?

What is core to me, which I am not expressing?

What am I not asking myself?

What have I forgotten?

What do I need to be more aware and what do I need to learn?

How do I best learn?

How can I become a better version of myself?

How do I keep my heart and my mind open?

What am I holding onto which is no longer serving me?

How do I feed, centre, resource and nourish myself?

What help do I need?



Leading Others

A central task of leadership is leading and working WITH others through relationship and conversation. Leading well is shaping tomorrow whilst delivering today in our unchartered unprecedented times. This is calling forth new capabilities of invitational leadership to equip leaders with the skills to create flourishing thinking environments where people can sense and innovate themselves and their organizations into the future. (A detailed paper “WHO you are is HOW you TALK” ™ The Art and Craft of Creating Creative Conversations is available for download from the website on

Questions to unlock these foundational capabilities are for example:


How am I / we creating the invitations to ask the difficult questions of ourselves and of each other?

How am I / we inviting, hosting and holding the courageous creative conversations which we need to have to create shift?

What am I / we seeing and not seeing?

What am I / we paying attention to and what do I / we intend?

What are the unintended consequences of our actions or inaction?

What are the conversations we need to have which we are not having?

WHO are WE when we are together?

What is calling us?

What is our deeper purpose together?

What am I / we afraid of and what might we be avoiding?

Are we awake or are we sleepwalking?

How are we aligning our purpose with our values, behaviors and action?

How do I / we invite feedback?

What is my / our approach to risk, errors and/or failure?

How am I / we investing and nurturing our relationships and building trust?

Do I / we invite multiple perspectives?

How am I/ we embracing difference and diversity?

How do we free inspiration, creativity and best thinking to get the job done?

What energy are we transmitting?



Leading in the World

Leading in today’s world is requiring new capacities and capabilities to sense patterns, work with the unknown, and create new meaning and purpose from the constant churn to inspire elegant action to deliver what people both need and want.


Questions to unlock these foundational capabilities are for example:

What is my / our relationship with the unknown and not knowing?

What is my / our ability to sense and see what is wanting to emerge?

What am I / we paying attention to and what do I / we intend?

How do I / we create rather than control the future?

What do I / we trust ourselves in this?

What is calling us?

What is my / our bigger purpose?

What impact am I / are we having?

How do I / we act with integrity in the world?

What is our contribution?

What is my / our legacy?



Case Study

An example of the relational heart in action is given in the following case study.


R. was an executive director on a Board working in a highly complex and politicized environment.  Despite huge material success and a happy family life she was struck feeling a strange and indescribable emptiness along with a sense that she was fulfilling her full potential which would not go away. Feeling typecast, stereotyped and sidelined she felt undervalued, bored and uninspired. Her question was “why am I feeling this way?” “How can I be more, contribute more and achieve more?”


We started by working through the lens of Leading Self. Who was she when she was leading? What gifts, strengths, values and passions were being ignored by the short-term day to day pressures to deliver? What vulnerabilities and inner fears were old scripts which were now no longer appropriate and which could be re-written. What was her deeper purpose and what conversations was she not having with herself, her chief executive, Board and team which she needed to have which would both push her out of her comfort zone and move her towards achieving more of her potential.


This work also needed to put in the context of Leading Others. Here it became clear that in order to release herself from the burden of operational detail she needed to work and relate differently. That by stepping forward as host she could create kinds of conversations, which actually released everyone’s creativity, engagement participation and commitment. That through the process of becoming more comfortable with not knowing and exposing her potential vulnerability she was able to ask the simple but difficult and beautiful questions both in her 1:1’s and in her meetings which constructively challenged old paradigms and enabled them to innovate their way into the future.


This process was also fed and nourished by attending to Leading in the World. The dropping of old masks, identities and stepping into not knowing meant that it became easier to read and act on the patterns found in the emerging seeds in the present to better shape the future. This process shifted the culture from “I” to “we” and from “ego” to “us together” to achieve what was needed.


All three lens of the FSM’s relational heart were needed to shift awareness, impact and performance.



Using the Full Spectrum Map

The Full Spectrum Map can then be used to help explore what capacity or capability development is required to enhance awareness, impact, effectiveness and performance. (Detailed areas of inquiry for each aspect of the FSM are given in the paper CSA’s Full Spectrum Map for Leadership “The Living Fields of Leadership”™ which is available for download from our website)





Living Fields of Leadership



Entering the relational heart is not a soft option nor is it for the fainthearted, but it makes good personal and business sense if leaders and their organizations are to reach into their deeper potential, purpose and ambition. To conclude with the last lines of a David Whyte poem “Out on the Ocean” when he is struggling far from shore in an unexpected storm:


“…and the spark behind fear,

recognized as life,

leaps into flame.


Always this energy smoulders inside,

when it remains unlit,

the body fills with dense smoke”.


For a list of CSA Leadership’ s internationally approved super-Visors to support leaders and people professionals in their inquiry and development please visit our website

Your thoughts and feedback are welcomed. Please email Elaine who is CSA’s Director: Creative Development at to continue the conversation.



Donne, J. (1623) Meditation XVII Devotions on Emergent Questions: No Man is an Island. [Internet]. Available from [Accessed 5th September 2015].

Gardner, H. (2006) Frames of Mind. MA, Perseus Books.

Kabatt-Zinn, J. (2012) Where You Go, There You Are”. London, Little Brown Book Club.

Whyte, D. (2007) River Flow New and Selected Poems 1984-2007. USA, Many Rivers Press.