During Assignments #4 and #5, I explored complex challenges that impacted leadership in a community based youth program for gaming and web development. I discovered much more about the challenges faced by leaders within the program by asking powerful questions, and suggesting applicable solutions based on what I had observed during an informal learning interview. I conducted a synchronous interview with the cofounder of the program individually and later within a team dynamic. Both experiences were valuable as they required similar but yet different skills and processes to execute a successful and meaningful interview with positive outcomes. In hindsight, while conducting the interview individually, my personal and unconscious biases surfaced versus my approach when placed in a team dynamic. Allowing others to contribute to the process allowed me to externalize my own beliefs and accept the perspectives of others; whether it be culturally, geographically and experiential. Leading a team allowed me to experience and view the role of leadership through various perspectives. In addition, my initial assumptions; in respect to ‘what makes a good leader‘ were affirmed as some of my initial characteristics of a leader were practiced during this experience. The biggest takeaway from these experiences were the effectiveness of our team conversations. I decided to take the fight or flight approach in communicating this time around in our team assignment. In order to arrive at suitable solutions for our client, as a collective, our team conducted a series of conversations while accommodating to the strengths of each member, which lead to some tangible ideas that would become possible solutions for our client’s long-term challenges. Allowing each member to contribute their thoughts and perspectives while voicing their ideas made for a positive learning experience and outcome.
Cross, (2007, p. 122) defines the fight and flight conversational styles as “The fight conversational style is competitive; a “win” conversation. The flight style is accommodating….” During our first meeting, we decided to have an open forum and presented our preferences for communication, contribution deadlines and had a conversation about our teams strengths and learning opportunities. This initial form of communication provided our team with a foundation for conducting a positive virtual working environment and an engaging learning experience. It was important to voice these concerns and be transparent with members of the group; as I found that we developed a mutual understanding of responsibilities, roles and team goals.
My approach to initiating an accommodating flight conversation style allowed our group to identify team strengths and learning opportunities that helped us develop a strong team dynamic that produced meaningful conversations and resulted in positive contributions from all members of the group while keeping them engaged in the process. Wheatley, (as cited in Cross, 2007, p. 124) said it best when describing the cultivation of change through human conversation, “I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversations where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard and we each listen well”.
Cross, J. (2007). Informal learning: Rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance. San Francisco CA: Pfeiffer.