It is human to struggle in the comprehension of your fellow beings. Everyone’s simply wired differently. This mental grapple could be due to numerous factors such as cultural differences, contrasting personalities, different perspectives, upbringing and life experiences. One of the significant challenges that I have faced while leading a team was trying to understand the designers you are responsible for and being aware of the particular dynamic within the team. For instance, when you are in a position of authority, your assignees may not be completely honest with you or they may not challenge your feedback, even when they feel you are wrong. I had considered myself to be a very approachable person, but this feeling might not be shared between others in the team. Some of them may think it is my prerogative to call the shots. I hope to share my perspective in this article on how to tackle this matter.
Building relations based on trust
A good leader must create a safe space for everyone. Our assignees should feel safe to open up and share their thoughts, feelings and perspective openly. To build this level of trust, we have to try and become vulnerable with them. For example, share an embarrassing story about yourself and talk about topics unrelated to work. These kinds of actions help create an emotional bridge between our assignees and us, allowing the space where we acknowledge each other’s imperfections and build a more robust support system. Once we start practising this, we find a well-synchronized team.
We cannot have a one size fits all attitude when dealing with a team with anything more than one member. Like I said, each person comes from a different background, with different perspectives and ideologies. So, it becomes essential to figure out the best possible way to communicate effectively with distinct individuals. Ambient communication is a term I have coined to convey this concept. This concept is about maintaining a living documentation using a learn-by-interacting approach to comprehend the best communication styles, things that annoy or trigger them, their strengths, growth areas, interests, and so on to devise an ambient communication model tailored for each individual in a team.
The idea behind ductile leadership is about keeping our egos in check. Being in a position of authority does not make us all-knowing by default. Just as a ductile metal that can be drawn into a wire (a medium that conducts electricity with the least resistance), become a conduit for ideas to burgeon. We have to be flexible enough to accept that we can always learn from a younger generation, not just the ones more experienced than us. ‘Experienced’ does not mean ‘Always right’. Our duty as good leaders is to build a space where our team feels it is more than alright to challenge you, debate with you, and fight for what they believe is right.
trust, dynamic interaction style and a safe space to challenge one another help to build a solid team, a better culture and, as a result — innovation. Be like the pebbles at the river bed, do not try to control the stream. Instead, be the force that allows it to flow, meander and flourish.