So what are the Big 8? (NOV 21)

The Big 8 are our leadership foundations – a set of behaviours, mindsets, cultures, and approaches that underpin what it takes to lead in a Big Leadership way for a Big Education. We will be exploring these in-depth when we come together for the development days;


A process of establishing, building and deepening relationships – over time – both formally and informally. This is done through the appropriate disclosure of personal information, in a friendly and open way, and encouraging reciprocation from others. This can involve sharing information about who we really are (not just what we do) and our honest thoughts and feelings.


The process of sharing and agreeing on our expectations of one another, including considering what might be challenging. This is done by explicit sharing of our expectations in a given situation or relationship – what we want and can offer. This needs to be negotiated and really understood in explicit ways – what will that look and sound like? A degree of connectedness is necessary to enable an open conversation to take place. It can be helpful to consider what might go wrong or get in the way so that this can be spotted and then named by either party.


The process of holding the space in order to help people to get in touch with how they feel about a situation. This is done through empathetic listening, open body language and identification and naming of the emotions you can see, for example, “it seems like you are really annoyed about that..” 


Active listening and open questions, summarising and playing back to speed and developing thinking. This is achieved with a disciplined approach to asking really open questions (e.g. “what would you like to talk about?”) and then listening and feeding back (e.g. “you’ve talked about x, y and z”) before pausing to let the client carry on in whatever direction they choose.


Using feedback to point out to people when their actions or words do not match what they agreed to in the contracting. This is done by referring back to the agreed contract and giving feedback, for example, we agreed X and what I have seen is Y.


Intentionally and explicitly giving advice. This approach is useful when you are an expert and the client is less experienced or in a bad state. It requires a discipline to give advice clearly – my advice to you is…. Often advice is hidden in question form (have you ever considered x?) and this should be avoided.  

Feeding back

Sharing the information you have about other people with them, i.e. telling someone about the effect their behaviour has had on you. Based on unconditional positive regard, the change agent shares information which they believe will help the client through increased self awareness, for example, when you did x, I thought it was y because I saw z happen.


Offering theory as a framework through which to view or respond to a given situation as a way of offering perspective. This is a powerful way to build capacity in others, building their internal repertoire of approaches to make sense of their world. It also empowers them with tools to help others in simple and potent ways and thus serves as part of democratising this powerful knowledge within teams and organisations. 

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