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Having been in the world of development for decades, I become excited by new ideas all the time. However, there is one idea that has stuck with me since I came across it a couple of months ago, and I ask myself it every day. In fact, I have written it down on my to-do list, so I see the question every day.

So, what is the question?  The question is, ‘am I above the line?’  Really you ask, what does that mean? Well, the short video below explains the concept beautifully. In a nutshell, in every situation we ask are we above or below the line. If we are below the line, we feel threatened and may close down or act with hostility. We don’t bring our best selves to the situation. We may blame other, make excuses or deny there is a problem.  I have done all of these things. If we are above the line, we are open to other, curious and solution focussed. We take responsibility and accountability for our thoughts and behaviours. Stop right now and think of a project you are working on – are you above the line and open or below the line and playing a victim? 

As leaders, the question we need to ask ourselves everyday is…

There are several strategies we can use to bring back above the line, when we are feeling vulnerable. These can include changing our thinking, reframing and sometimes just stopping and take a few deep breaths. As greater curiosity is grows around psychological safety, it is worth considering whether we as leaders are supporting ourselves and our teams to stay above the line, or are we far  below the line, we haven’t even noticed those who have sunk beneath it.

Where are you? Above or Below the Line