The Art of Layering by Anne Wolff, Executive Coach

When asked recently how I talk about vertical adult development to my clients, the word that sprang to mind was ‘layers’.

As we grow and develop as adults, we put on new layers. These are not so much layers of capability, more layers of capacity. With each new layer we have greater capacity to deal with complexity, uncertainty and paradox. Each successive layer has particular characteristics and we label them ‘action logics’.

It is tempting when thinking about layers to think of the metaphor of the onion. But we are humans and I prefer to think of the layers as separate outfits, or coats. As we expand our capacity, or try on a new outfit, we continue to have access to all the old outfits that still hang in our closet. Clients find it helpful to realise that they continue to have access to their Achiever or Expert selves when that way of operating serves them. It can be a conscious choice, rather than unconsciously reverting to a default setting when under pressure.

And progressing to a later action logic may feel uncomfortable at first, like trying on a new outfit that we are not sure suits us. And those around us may not think it suits us either – they may prefer us in the old outfit.

Copyright © 2020 Global Leadership Associates

Anne Wolff, Executive Coach