Leading Relationships in times of Social Distancing

Leading Relationships in times of Social Distancing

Cross-posted on Medium

Relationships. We see them everywhere.

These are interesting times. A lot of what’s normal isn’t anymore. Many of us are overwhelmed. Many structures we are used to are not there anymore. How we spend our time and whom we spend it with has become radically different. And we didn’t get much time to pause, reflect, and adapt.

I’m a relationship person. I love. I hug. I listen. I empathise. I lead my relationships consciously. And I’m struggling.

When helping leaders improve, I focus on leading relationships. I’ve noticed how what they practice at work helps their private relationships, too. Now, relationships are under stress both at home and at work: we spend either a lot more or a lot less time with people than we are used to. Let’s learn from our struggling. Let’s use this irritating situation to our advantage, to improve our relationships at work, as well as at home.

I’m noticing how my relationship practice helps me in these interesting times. And I’m talking to lots and lots of people who struggle, who have questions. Some are worried, afraid. We need a space, to pause, to listen, to ask the burning questions.

How do we identify the chances and opportunities between the risks, and worries, and fears? How do we thrive from here? How do we flourish?

I’m offering a space for conversations. Starting today, March 25, at 4 pm Berlin time. Link to the Zoom meeting.

How might we lead our relationships in these times of Social Distancing?

I intend to host these conversations every day, from now on, while they are needed and possible.

Some interesting questions

Now that I’m faced with people I love 24 hours per day, and they get on my nerves, what do I do?

Now that I can’t see and feel people as I’m used to, what do I do?

Now that I don’t get to have random beneficial conversations with colleagues at the coffee machine or over lunch, now that I’m missing information and connection that’s essential for collaboration and well-being, what do I do?

Now that I have to sit in front of my computer all day, every day, to do my work, to have social interactions, what do I do?

Now that everything seems to be different, what would we like to have happen?

Who is this for?

Leaders of all kinds and roles.

People overwhelmed with the sudden changes in their day-to-day relationships.

Those of us who feel lonely in quarantine or during lock-down.

Anyone who wants to learn more about relationships.

Coaches who want to help but are distanced from clients who don’t come to the office anymore.

Everyone. Just join us. Use this link to our Zoom meeting.

You are Welcome

You are Welcome

“You are Welcome” as an expression of invitation has been part of our deliberate practice for a while, and we’ve been thinking a lot about the difference it makes. What’s special about it?


Thank you!” When we hear a passionate expression of gratitude, we reply, “you are welcome!” with a similar amount of passion. We appreciate gratitude with an invitation. We don’t believe that’s wrong 🙂

“I want you to know how important your welcome is to my sense of safety. I know whatever I bring is welcome. I have a high degree of confidence that I will not be attacked, rejected or belittled. That you are likely to see even more of my gold than I see. That you will hold a safe and confidential space for my mistakes, my weakness, my anger, sadness, fear and shame as well my authentic joy. That is an immeasurable gift. That is safety!”

– Scott Downs


Loving Kindness





We rarely dare to fully show up in our world. Often, we want to meet expectations, don’t feel worthy to fully disclose ourselves, or we simply do what everybody does and we’ve always done: We fit in. We can shift that with a fully whole-hearted welcome.

You are OK

Our welcome is unconditional. We are all humans and connected. You’re part of the group, no matter what you did or how you feel. This is our invitation. You are welcome. You are welcome to forgive yourself, as we are ready to do it for you and for us as well. 

“Come, come whoever you are, …even if you have broken your vows 10.000 times, …come again”

– Rumi


In the course of our lives, we all have felt excluded from a group and suffered in fear of losing connection, relationships and security. These fears prevent us still from connecting to the now and building relationships of trust. If we want to make a change and build spaces of trust in our lives and organisations, it is upon us to start.

Our welcome is an invitation for empathy for us and for others. We can choose whether we want to follow it. We are free to decide, how aware we would like to become about our repressed feelings. If so, they can show up and we can stay with them. Allowing them to be there, allows us to be fully present and authentic. Letting them go frees us, refreshes us and give us back the energy which had been blocked. We can start anew, opening up to the next person to say unconditionally “You are welcome”.



Love and Magic happens when we meet

This space of compassion invites loving ourselves anew. Children are authentic, emotional and empathetic to all creatures. But already early in our childhood we learned that loves comes with conditions. “If you are brave than your Mummy will love you and read a story for you in the evening”. We got to know a lot of expectations and are still trying to meet them. We learned to survive by being seen, acknowledged by our family and the outer world.  In consequence we were ready to surpress feelings and splinter parts of ourselves to fit in. We do now the same to others by throwing expectations and judgements on them which we think is normal.

Magic comes in, through loving ourselves and others, accepting what is. If we manage, than a big burden is tumbling down, freeing us to feel, to connect and getting back into the flow of life.
We are able to feel love, joy and ease again.

 “God did not ask us to like our neighbours. He just asked us to love them.”

–  Martin Luther King

We don’t need to like how you’re showing up today. We welcome you, again and again. If you don’t feel you’re ok, we will accept it, as a choice. We will hold that possibility of a space of feeling ok, as long as you want it. 

May I be well, may I be happy, may I be free from suffering. May you be well, may you be happy, may you be free from suffering. May we be well, may we be happy, may we be free from suffering.  – Buddha

A good every day practice is the loving kindness meditation practice where we learn to have empathy with ourselves, our loved ones and the ones which we have difficulties with. We will feel more human and connected to others if we practice it regularly. 

Life is encountering humans

“You are welcome!” sings the demi-god as he encounters Moana in the Disney movie of the same name.



We believe, that encounters are the main thing. The magic of encounter is what is being human. We are curious, open and fully present to what we encounter. We are looking forward to what’s emerging – what happens next? We are not sure what’s going to happen, we aim not to have any plan for the relationship, no goal, there’s room for surprise and magic.

Like everyone we might put people into boxes, but they are creative, loving boxes with interesting colours and patterns, and they are easy to get out of. Even when we have a judgement, we hold that lightly, we set that opinion aside and are curious for the human being that’s showing up.


So what makes our welcome special?

we are ready to be surprised. we see humans as they are … we make ourselves vulnerable and are ready for the other to let go of their masks and space suits. We are ready to greet the wonderful being that hides behind the apps and extensions …

we allow connection with yourself to happen..

we are social beings. We want to be in contact. Our space allows empathy, thankfulness, expressing of all emotions to show up and hold a space of trust to invite connection and healing.

Love and Magic will happen if we are ready to take what is offered. If we can give and receive. If we can accept and stay with our resistance. Humans are strong and weak, intellectual and emotional.. it is not about one or the other, it is about one as well as the other.

we are holding diversity, different approaches and perspectives allowing them to co-exist in order to invite creativity and surprisability…

we aim to be aware, to speak up when we notice something. we address it now, so that it doesn’t bother us later on.

we are aware – we are in different worlds, we will never fully understand each other. we can discover similarities, resonance, that ease our communication. We are always ready to start with a beginner’s mind and to forgive..

we are part of a bigger whole
we are all human. We share the same emotions, the same humanity, the basic need to belong. We are one. Feeling welcome no matter what, is a key to be able to connect with yourself and others.

You are Welcome! Let’s meet in life!

CAL1 Learning Objectives: Engagement

This is the first post in a series of about 30, each with a video conversation about a leadership topic. This time we talk about  – Engagement – and add some context and links for your further information. All these videos are part of the learning material of our Certified Agile Leadership (CAL1) offerings and for everybody interested.

Next Dates:

September 05-06 in London

September 07/08 Cologne, Germany

November 9/10, Berlin, Germany


The ScrumAlliance has defined a list of learning objectives for the Certified Agile Leadership credentials guiding trainers and participants in their offerings and learnings. For the CAL1 classes that we are currently offering these objectives are organized in five content groups:

  1. The Context for Agile
  2. Agile Overview
  3. Leadership in an Agile Context
  4. The Agile Organization
  5. Agile Approaches to Change

You can download the full document from the ScrumAlliance website here. The learning objectives (LOs) are phrased using “Bloom’s Taxonomy” – they describe what the student will be able to do after successfully completing the course. “These LOs are
not intended to be prescriptive of activities or exercises; rather, they are a guide for both the educator and the student for measuring depth of knowledge and understanding.”

In this spirit, we provide before our CAL courses a survey with the LOs where participants can analyse their current state of knowledge, as well as journaling material and further self-studying material like this video series. Your learning journey is ultimately self-directed and your individual responsibility as a learner. Our expectation is that all participants will be able to meet all the learning objectives (subject to your own effort and engagement) through a combination of the course experience, watching and or reading the online material we provide, and your own independent (and maybe previous) experiences, investigations and reflections.  Each of the learning objectives is open-ended so you can go as deep as your inclination leads you to go.

We are looking forward to your feedback as to how well these videos help you meet the objectives, and what additional help they might need. You might find them useful and entertaining without being interested in the course, of course 🙂

Learning Objectives Explained – in Videos?

There are few “right” or “wrong” solutions to these objectives. Our whole course is aimed at you building the awareness of what you want and how you achieve that. Offering our thinking as a video, that you can enjoy before or after the course at your leisure and review as often as you like at your own pace, ensures that you have the knowledge available if and when you need it, not when we think you should “get it”.

There are some other advantages why we think this makes your course experience more valuable for you. We want to minimise “telling” (as in us telling you something) in our courses for a few reasons:

  • We want to maximise human interaction, co-creative exploration, collective experiential learning and relationship building while we are together. These spaces are where we believe the greatest value of this training lies.
  • We want to minimise the time in which you lean back and consume (“download”) knowledge
  • Many of you come into our courses with a lot of knowledge about these topics. We realise there is a power difference between trainers and students in the course, and we want that to influence your thinking as little as possible towards our opinion. So while we are together, we give you more room to share what you know than we take ourselves.

Context – The Context for Agile

The first group of LOs asks the student to be able to describe, identify or explain a few economic or market factors leading to the rise of Agile approaches, some management trends and their historical fit, factors that increase employee engagement and a couple of benefits of becoming a more effective Agile leader. In addition, students will be able to illustrate and explain how complexity and uncertainty relate to the fitness of an Agile approach and how focus on delighting the customer relates to improved outcomes.

Today’s video contains our conversation on learning objective

1.5 Explain at least three factors that increase the level of employee engagement, and how that relates to better outcomes. For example:

  • Clear purpose
  • Autonomy
  • Opportunity to develop mastery
  • Strong social connection
  • Daily small wins

Edited Transcript

…Factors that influence the engagement of an employee…

Looking at myself, freedom or autonomy is important to me. I want to have a sense of I can decide what to do next, I can decide how to do stuff… There are certain things that I’m told but I need a level of freedom that is okay with what I want to do.

  • Autonomy is part of Daniel Pink’s Drive (book and video) He talks about employee motivation and its three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
  • Purpose: I have a strong sense of why I’m doing what I do,
  • Mastery: I have a sense of I can learn something that’s useful to me, I can develop myself, I get stretched a little bit…
  • Autonomy.

…I need somebody who’s working with me who just says, “okay, this is where we want to go, this is the target – please find out how to get there” and I have total freedom to experiment what’s best to reach that target.

…You just gave a good definition of Agile! We define the outcomes and then we experiment our way towards these outcomes. Isn’t that what Agile is all about?

…Yes, that’s true! That’s a really Agile way of being and I think that’s why I connected so much to these Agile ideas. That’s how I like it and that’s how life is meant to be for me. So I really connected very strongly.

…Great. I can see the engagement rising while we are talking. I’m thinking about what is happening between us as we’re talking about this topic and I realise that apart from autonomy, mastery and purpose one thing that’s really important for me is social connection, that I feel seen and recognized as a human being, that I feel appreciated for who I am and what I deliver and that we create something together.

I am independent, I am a freelancer, but I do not like working alone. And I really appreciate us creating stuff together, which is part of our specific way of delivering a CAL training, that we do it together and that we demonstrate leading together in the space of the training. So social connection is really important to me to be engaged.

…When I listen to you I realize that this is maybe the most beautiful thing, the most precious gift we can give to humans. We want to have that space of trust and social connection, and be there for each other. That creates the freedom for everybody to develop to their best. Nobody wants to control what we’re doing exactly, but everybody has got a real interest in you developing to the best you can.

…This freedom to develop to our best, this is what relates engagement to outcomes. People feel free to actually bring all of their ideas to work. People engage and really give their best into  every single thing they do at work. When we have strong social connections which create safety, people can point out mistakes without it sounding like blame. People can come up with new ideas without being afraid of being ridiculed. That’s what leads to great outcomes. We have people giving their best instead of holding back and just doing what they are asked for or what they’re told.

…Here is where purpose comes in, which I really need for my life. That’s my driving force. If I’ve got this surrounding that I’m connected and if I’ve got the freedom that I know I can find the way to the target, then I really need to make one step, I need a goal which makes sense to me and that really drives me through my life. I need this purpose in every business project – just like for our collaboration as well.


CAL1 Learnings

We delivered our first CAL1 (Certified Agile Leadership by the Scrum Alliance) this week in Kiev. We went in with an open mind and the clear intent to uncover what makes our approach special and unique. This is what we learned. Building on what we had learned after the first day…

Our Learning - Done

Our Learning – Done

What do participants say?

  • Most content is co-created. That creates a strong sense of collaboration with the leaders of the course, opportunities for everyone to lead and lets us experience the choice we have to lead of follow consciously in every moment.
  • The course is great for anyone who needs to communicate and wants to increase the effectiveness of their communication.
  • “We turned the sheep around. You may be a wolf, but you can choose to be a sheep. And you may be aware that a wolf could be chasing the sheep.”
  • I was surprised how quickly trust was created and grown in the group. And I want to try these Temenos methods of story-telling and trust-building with my colleagues.

Knowledge Market Map

Knowledge Market Map

Assumptions and Intentions we Started With

  • There is greatness in every human beings leadership stance that anyone else on the course can benefit from. We want to create space for this greatness to become visible and explicit.
  • The main purpose of CAL1 is to start people on a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement. Participants are responsible for where they are starting from and where they want to go next.
  • “Agile Leadership” means: know why you do what you do, and be sufficiently aware of how you’re doing it to be able to deliberately improve it. And: everything depends on context awareness and intention. We will refrain from advising or recommending specific leadership practices.
  • Leading and following, teaching and learning, speaking and listening, conflict and harmony, are all intricate, nuanced dances in the moment. We will lead by example in focusing attention on these subtle choices, highlighting everyone’s successes, so that we can all learn from them.

Letter to your Former Self

At the end, we all wrote a postcard to our former, three days ago selves, giving advice for getting the most out of the workshop. These are some examples:

  • Free up time to accumulate energy and attention – don’t plan anything – do all homework.
  • You are ready. Enjoy! Wiser Maiia. PS It doesn’t matter how you like your skirt. Wear pants.



Agile Leadership

We offer classes in “Certified Agile Leadership” for the Scrum Alliance. What do these classes allow you to learn? What impact can you expect, and what difference will that make on how you lead your life, your team, and your organisation? And what does “agile leadership” mean?

Up next: London Sept 05/06

What is Agile?

Our simple definition of “agile”: Deliberate improvement, based on

  • respecting and valuing people as human beings with needs and potentials,
  • clarity of why (purpose, vision) we do what we do,
  • awareness of how (process, communication, …) we do what we do.

These three elements allow us to collaborate on improving our system together, so that it better delights and serves us and our customers.

We do not believe that “agile” is a state, or a label, for a specific practice or organisation – agile is the stance and journey of consciously improving.

Agile Leadership

In that spirit, we believe that agile leadership is the conscious improvement of how we lead and follow, given

  • a clarity of intention (what we want),
  • an awareness of context and our current habits and behaviours of leading and following, with the
  • purpose to grow the system we work in and the people working in it to fulfil our needs and realise our individual and joined potential.

CAL1 Course

The currently offered courses are called CAL1 as we perceive them to be the beginning of a journey, the invitation to a quest of discovery.

We assume you have experience in leading your life, and leading people. You may be an expert at leading or consider yourself a beginner. Independently of which path you are on and where on that path you are, the TrustTemenos CAL1 will give you these things:

  • A context of co-creation where you and other leaders make sense together and learn together how you lead and how you may want to improve.
  • Plenty of options to lead and follow, to teach and learn, to diverge and converge, to seed and to harvest, as we make sense together of what we know about leadership.
  • A conceptual frame which you can use to discern and understand your kind and style and stance of leadership, methods, practices and tools you know or learn about, so that after the course you can continue to make sense and improve, and continue the journey.
  • A community of leaders who help each other improve and make sense of their improvement. We encourage and admire each other’s success and hold each other accountable for our struggles, as we’re working on changing our mental models, behaviours and habits.

CAL1 Course Differences

Various Scrum Alliance coaches and trainers offer very different CAL programs and CAL1 courses. Given the intentional openness of the CAL1 learning objectives and the diversity of valid interpretations of what “agile leadership” is, we believe that our training offerings are complimentary.

We offer our trainings at 50% of the price to anyone who has attended a CAL1 training with another trainer before.

Learning preferences are different. People are diverse, organisations even more so. What you need and want to start your journey of self-discovery, becoming the leader you feel called to be, might be wildly different from what we offer.

We recognise these scales on which trainings can be very different:

  • sharing knowledge – downloading knowledge
  • getting tools and instructions – increase understanding of your hands
  • untanglement and discernment – disruption of beliefs and behaviours
  • leave your comfort zone – increase your comfort zone
  • learners control learning – teachers control learning

Ask us if you want to know more! And look at the pictures …

Because of the highly co-creative nature of TrustTemenos CAL1 trainings, content can be very different from group to group. For that reason, you may want to consider coming back – which you may do at a 50% discount.

Learning Objectives


CAL2 offerings