As Lynn Hauka, the author of The Sweetness of Holding Space for Another says, holding space is something that each of us is capable of, and something that each of us has done. That being said, it is not a capability that most change practitioners apply.

Why?

Sometimes we get caught up in the rhythm of producing deliverables. Sometimes, whether internal or external practitioners, we get caught up in our clients’ dysfunctions. Sometimes we become frustrated with the fact that our clients aren’t listening to us (or even, perhaps, making themselves available). And, most likely, it is not a skill that you have learned in any change management training or mentoring that you have received.

While Hauka is not specifically referencing change execution, the importance that holding space can play for us is significant. Holding space with our clients will open them up more fully to the guidance that we have to offer, and will simultaneously free us of the burden of their decisions. “You’ll discover how to be utterly present with someone yet also when to dance aside so they can trust their own wisdom. You’ll empower them to make their own choices because people are often more competent than they give themselves credit for. Yet paradoxically we all need to make mistaken choices so that we learn from them, grow our courage, and deepen our confidence.”

Making space in your toolkit for this skill will serve both you and your clients well.