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David Drake shares practices to return to our sense of common good and common humanity

Welcome to the fifth season of Better World Leaders. Throughout this season we’ll be focusing on the theme of conditions, and considering what conditions do we need to nurture for leaders to co-create a better world.

I’m delighted and honoured to bring you the first conversation of the season with a man who has devoted his life to creating conditions for people to discover themselves, transition liminal spaces and learn in ways which are much more conducive to life now (and in the world of the future) than our conventional approaches to learning. Welcome to the conversation with David Drake.

David is the pioneer of two bodies of work — Narrative Coaching and Integrative Development — which share the same philosophical and pedagogical roots and are mutually generative. I’ve been aware of David’s work in Narrative Coaching for around 5 years since being deeply moved by one of his coaching exercises in a training program. I have gravitated more and more to his work — culminating in enrolling in two of his developmental communities at the beginning of this year.

This episode was recorded in December 2021 prior to me joining those spaces. I have been even more inspired now that I am in the programs. I feel deeply privileged to have spent more time with David, and I look forward to doing so for what I hope will be years to come. David is a wonderful activator of powerful learning experiences. His work steeped in a brilliant combination of research and evidence-based frameworks, and applied through constant practice in each individual’s context.

Here’s a review of the key messages from this episode:

Systems & Cultures

  • Most of the drivers of behaviour in a workplace have less to do with the people, and more to do with the cultures & systems in which they are working
  • The systemic and complex nature of the needs we face requires us to work across multiple disciplines and at multiple levels so we don’t keep sending changed people back into unchanged environments.
  • We need to help people place their individual stories and journey within a broader and more inclusive context so they can make sense and meaning in new ways
  • Developing people is less about teaching with better curricula and more about facilitating with better conversations

Honouring differences

  • There is a need to create new, larger narratives that will keep us from driving each other further apart
  • We’ve over-emphasised our differences and lost much of our sense of the common good and our common humanity
  • The business models for many of the platforms is based on enraging people,  exacerbating differences, and narrowing our focus.

Respecting journeys

  • We need to honour & respect people for who and how they are as the only place to begin
  • My value is less about telling others what I know and more about coming alongside people and the journey they are already on to help them grow
  • The big work we need to do is found in from the unknown & the uncertain
  • The fundamental question in our work is, “What does this person need most right now?”


  • The need is for more safe places for practice based learning rather than more content
  • The resolution that someone is seeking is already present
  • We have to let go of ‘we have to study before we do’ to free ourselves to learn and adapt faster
  • We need to free people up for serious play. To play with serious things.

Follow David via the links below;  (Narrative Coaching book)

Follow Tim and join the Better World Leaders community via the links below:

Link to article reflecting on this episode on Medium here –

youtube @timcollings – click here for channel

Episode Pages for this episode and all previous Better World Leaders conversations available here;

As always, great thanks and appreciation to the team who contributed to bringing Better World Leaders to you;

To Brendan Ward for mastering, final production, composition and performance of original music throughout each episode.

To Cooper, Pat and the team at RadioHub studios for audio editing, technical support and creative guidance during the episodes that are recorded face-to-face. You can find out about Radio Hub’s services here –

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This is the Better World Leaders, brought to you by 4iLeadership