Carnegie Education

Finding our Face Mode: courage, coaching and Covid:19

CollectivED Fellow, Kerry Jordan-Daus reflects on her coaching conversations she's had over the last 9 weeks, including self-coaching.
Two women talking and learning
As we all grapple with the myriad of emotions, I am going to use this blog to explore how coaching during Covid:19 can enable us to make sense of our fright, flight, fight and face modes (Kozlowska, 2015). Our fear, being on edge and highly anxious; flight, an inclination to run away, to hide away and batten down the hatches; fight, our anger and dismay or our face mode, the resolve to adjust to and find new ways of being in a Covid:19 world. Or, to disengage or to engage. 

I am using these four Fs as a framework for sense making in our current contexts. The lockdown, stay at home, stay alert; all bring with it a number of challenges as we make sense of our new normal. How long this will last and what we will return to on 1st June, if we are leading a school, or in the months ahead. We don’t know. But sense making our unknowns is where coaching can come to its fore. 

At the beginning of March, I downloaded my next audio book Brené Brown’s, Dare to Lead (2018). One of the key messages from this book is how we show vulnerability in our leadership, and indeed, why, this is so important. Vulnerability not as weakness but a pathway to strength; I am seeing vulnerability as a necessary stage in our journeying from fright to face mode.

Well, who hasn’t felt vulnerable and frightened in the last 9 weeks. Fearful about our health, our family’s wellbeing, our students, our work, our future. I remember the eerily quietness one Sunday morning being shattered by a siren, and feeling frightened, the first time I went to the Supermarket, feeling frightened, taking my daughter on a car drive, to get her out of the house and help her with her mental health, feeling frightened. The list goes on.

In my own behaviours and my own self coaching conversation, I have moved through my own fright, flight, fight and face modes. Our strength comes from acknowledging each of these emotional spaces. Coaching provides the space to navigate these spaces, to sense make and find courage to face Covid:19. 

One of the many things that had to be paused was the CollectivED Coaching Conference 23rd June. Whilst I have cancelled the hotel booking and got a refund on my train ticket; Rachel Lofthouse, was already in her face mode working on her webinar plan, to create the space for coaching conversations to go on; learning, collaborating, to continue the mission of the CollectivED Community.

Receiving my CollectivED Fellowship on 14th April, I am struck again by the feedback; It's evident that your practice goes deep and that you create spaces where people can think effectively for themselves. 

I have reached out to all my coachees over the last 8 weeks to have these conversations. But the first person I had to have this conversation with was myself. Through the self-coaching phase, I made sense of my own fright, the pointlessness of fight. I cannot fight a pandemic. As a parent with significant caring responsibilities for a young adult with disability, flight has never been an option, so then to my face mode. Enabling and empowering each of my coachees can find their own face mode is deeply embedded in my practice.

So, thinking effectively for ourselves. Yes, I am talking about How do we take the F Word out of Coaching? at the forthcoming CollectivED webinar

But now Coaching in Covid:19, I am finding that I am talking about putting the FEAR word back into my coaching conversations as we journey through our four Fs, fright, flight, fight and FACE.
Finding our FACE Mode means going forward. Finding courage in our coaching conversations to embrace vulnerability as a strength.



Brown, B (2018) Daring to Lead. Vermilion: London

Kozlowska, K, Walker, P; McLean, L; Carrive, P (2015) Fear and the Defense Cascade Clinical Implications and Management Harvard Review of Psychiatry:  Volume 23 - Issue 4 - p 263-287 


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