Written by Kate Billing, Founder & Creative Director, Blacksmith

A 3 minute read & 1 hour watch

Welcome to The Real Room!

The Real Room is a space I’ve created for conversations about the tricky business of putting being FULLY HUMAN at the centre of how we live, lead and work.

In the Real Room, I have conversations with fabulous humans from all over New Zealand and the world. They’re conversations with a diverse group of people about all things human-related. My guests range from people leaders to thought leaders, researchers to practitioners, corporate legends to creative entrepreneurs, artists to activists, and more. If they’re all about taking a more human-centred approach, I want to talk with them!

Conversation #8 with Kevin Callahan

Kevin Callahan and I met five years ago at the Burren Executive Leadership Retreat (BELR). Held in Ballyvaughan in the west of Ireland, BELR is an annual four-day gathering of global leaders who are called to respond creatively to complexity. Together with renowned artists, those who gather each year create an intersection of artistic and leadership practice that supports answering the urgent call we all hear for systems transformation.

Kevin arrived from Maine in the upper east of the USA and I travelled twice that distance from New Zealand. It was a pilgrimage for both of us, physically, mentally and spiritually.

That shared experience back in 2015 was an important step on both Kevin’s and my professional path and an experience which connected us deeply as people. That connection has only grown deeper and richer as the past five years have unfolded, with conversations and experiences we’ve shared through our monthly Zoom calls, as we’ve supported each other’s growth, sanity and success.

With over 20 years working in high-complexity environments, Kevin is a self-described organisational shape-shifter, a husband and father, a poet, a musician, and a damn fine human being.

In our latest monthly ‘Burren Buddy’ call, Kevin joined me in The Real Room where we talked about:

  • learning to dance with change rather than get kicked around by it
  • integration and internal alignment as part of being Fully Human
  • catastrophising and toxic positivity: it’s okay that it’s not okay sometimes
  • how raising consciousness is a full contact sport
  • poetry as a powerful expression of the human experience
  • having the courage to walk our own path in a new and changing landscape
  • how who you’re with matters: choosing our pathmaking companions carefully
  • the transformational experience of walking
  • SELF as the instrument of change
  • whether leaders and organisations are up for the ‘inner work’ of leading change in the new world, and
  • surfing, downhill mountain-biking, and jazz as ‘leading from the edge’ experiences.

In our conversation, Kevin and I reference a few things you might like to check out for yourself:

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Kate and Kevin Profile Pic

Kate Billing:

Kate is the Founder & Creative Director of Blacksmith www.blacksmith.co.nz, a specialist leadership development practice focused on the development of human-centred leaders and fully human organisations.

For nearly 25 years Kate has worked in the people, culture and leadership space, building a reputation for sharp insights, compassionate challenge, warmth, and energy. Over that time she has worked within a range of industries and organisations, with leaders from the boardroom to the front line, all of whom have demonstrated their capacity for personal and collective evolution.

She believes it’s time for a new kind of leader: human-centred leaders who together will create the world we need for our shared future. Leaders who are examples of what’s possible when we commit to the highest levels of humanity and responsibility in the ways that we live, lead and do business.

Connect with Kate on LinkedIn.

Kevin Callahan:

Kevin is a self-described organisational shape-shifter with over 20 years experience creating exceptional results in high-complexity environments, from Fortune 500 companies to local NGOs. Regardless of scale or sector, his clients all face increasing rates of change and growing complexity on multiple fronts.

Kevin is recognised for his pragmatism and his focus on elevating and including people, rather than simply changing processes. Complimenting his human-centred approach are tools, practices, and patterns gained as an expert in the fields of Lean and Agile Software Development.

Kevin is the principal of Interaction Agility. He holds a M.Sc. in Positive Organisation Development & Change, along with certificates in Appreciative Inquiry and Emotionally Intelligent Leadership and Coaching. He is an authorised trainer for the International Agile Consortium (ICAgile) and a founding track author and recipient of the ICAgile Certified Expert – Enterprise Coaching for Agility. 

Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.