The Organisational Leadership Journey - into Chaos! (part 1) by Isobel Gray (guest)

'Organisational' poetry captures the essence of what can sometimes be difficult to express through normal modes of writing. As the Poet John Burnside, winner of the 2012 TS Eliot award, aptly shares,

"At the most basic level, poetry is important because it makes us think, it opens us up to wonder and the sometimes astonishing possibilities of language. It is, in its subtle yet powerful way, a discipline for re-engaging with a world we take too much for granted."

Poets continually challenge us to question, "both of public life and private accommodations"[1].

We're very excited that Isobel Gray continues to share some of her poems, through the good coach, of organisational life through the lens of coaching. In her two-part poetry, she shares her personal journey and experiences of both being intimately engaged and part of the system - "The Organisational Leadership Journey - into Chaos!" and being engaged intimately as part of the enabling system - "The Organisational Leadership Journey into Enlightenment". 


It continues to surprise me
How some
Apparently intelligent
and personable people
Can transform
When they become
appointed senior leaders.

Oblivious (sometimes wilfully)
To their impact.
Saying nothing speaks volumes,
Gives messages
To those watching for signals
Of their intentions.
In the vacuum
Worst interpretations
Rush in,
attention and energy
From organisational needs
To individual narrow self interest
Feeding short term
Perceived 'Survival'

Senior Leader behaviours
That confirm fears.
Pronouncing without
Connecting to
Real context,
Or others’ experience,
Or seeking to gain
True Insight
From others experience
And expertise.
Not checking out or testing
Their assumptions.

Seeing developing
organisational strategy
As a purely top down
Process rather than
An iterative, collegiate
and sometimes tough process,
Dependent on input from
All levels and areas
In a safe, supportive
Environment, where people
Are encouraged to share
Different perspectives;
Think differently.
The need for an appropriate
Level of structure and
Providing the container,
- all ignored.

They say
the right-sounding words,
But don't follow through.
So the behaviours
Do not match the words.
Abandoning the best
Of what already exists;
Not referring to
The platform already achieved
By others before they
Arrived as Leaders.

No sharing of the bigger picture.
Keeping the children
In the dark.
'We do all the strategy stuff'
Divide and Rule
Is the Name of the Game.
Stuck in putting out
Their pet opinions
And ways of seeing things;
making demands.
Oblivious to the greater
Collective need.

Who do they think they are?
Egos on the rampage...
and another potential
Organisational Mess
in the making.


To connect with Isobel Gray - email her at

Isobel is an OD Consultant and Executive Coach. She writes poetry in her spare time.
I started writing poetry about 5 years ago. My first poem was a spontaneous outpouring of thoughts and feelings the day we chose to have our beloved cat put to sleep when the vet discovered that she had advanced stages of cancer. And it grew from there, so she left me a very special legacy. I write poems on a range of themes - nature, people, and Life, including organisational life, which my work provides very privileged access to. I find it an earthing and liberating form of creative expression


[1]  "How Poetry can Change lives" Telegraph. 17 Jan 2012