Using More Perspectives: An Excerpt from Steffan's Book

Explore a few different ways to help you become a voice among many in the conversation, to boost your team communication and team dynamics.

Steffan Surdek
April 15, 2024
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This blog post is an excerpt from my book, The Way of the Co-Creative Leader. Full of insights, knowledge and real-life stories from my years of organizational leadership coaching, the book is a deep dive into co-creative leadership and the five key skills it entails.

This excerpt is at the end of Chapter 8: Tools to Being a Voice Among Many. In this chapter, we explore a few different ways to help you become more of a voice among many in the conversation with your team. The idea behind doing this is not to diminish your role with your team but to make it normal to have discussions and make decisions as a group.

This is a skill you need to learn as a leader, but it is also one your team needs to learn. It takes practice to step away in moments you would naturally step in. Here is one scenario that shows how you can do this in real time.

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The best way to explore these skills further and give vou some concrete examples is for me to give you a scenario and break down the skills in action for you.


In this scenario, I am having a one-on-one conversation with Renee, a manager of Jade, one of her employees.

"Hi Renee! How are things going with Jade these days?"

"I am not sure. I hear some of her colleagues telling me she is difficult to work with."

"Did you try talking to her about it?"

"I did. I shared the feedback I received from her colleagues recently. She did not take it well."

"What happened?"

"It was during my weekly one-on-one with her. I added it as a topic for the meeting. When we spoke about it, she seemed very defensive."

"In a way, I can see why. I noticed in some recent group meetings that she is trying hard to change her leadership style. She seems a bit uncomfortable with it right now."

"Her team members are telling me she is very impatient with them."

"Just for fun, Renee, imagine yourself in her shoes for a moment. Jade is a longtime employee, and the company rewarded her for pushing people the way she did. But now you are asking her to step back a bit and allow for her team members to take the lead. Being a high performer, she probably struggles with looking vulnerable in front of her team —especially when she feels she does not know what she is doing. How would you feel if you were her right now?"

"I would surely have some frustration if I were her. I would feel a bit off-balance, too, and would not know how to act at certain times."

"I can see some of that, too. Now, how would you feel about receiving feedback if you were in that mental state?"

"I guess I could approach giving her feedback differently in the future, Steffan."

"How so?"

"Well, thinking back on how I did it, I can see how she felt I was criticizing her without recognizing the effort she is making to change her leadership style. I can definitely see her efforts, but now I realize maybe she does not know that."

"You could try that and see what happens. Is there anything else you could see?"

"Off the top of my head, I cannot see anything obvious."

"Well, Renee, you can see her efforts, but how do you think her team sees things?"

"I am not sure. I think some people are aware she is trying new things, but maybe not everyone."

"What could you do about this, then?"

"I could probably support Jade by coaching her team in working through this transition."

I will stop there, and we can break this down a bit. In the first part of the conversation, Renee shared her perspective on the situation with Jade and what happened when she spoke to her. From my point of view, this was part perspective-taking, part perspective-seeking.

In the middle of the discussion, I asked Renee to do some perspective-taking about Jade. I gave some context about Jade's situation and invited Renee to reflect on how she would feel in the same position. We did not do any perspective-seeking with Jade to validate this, so this is a working hypothesis, so to speak. We are assuming she could be feeling a certain way—but we may be wrong, too.

The perspective-taking here, though, helps us take a different approach with Jade in the future.

The last part of the discussion is some perspective-coordinating in action. Renee did not initially consider how Jade was experiencing the situation. Once Renee gained this awareness, it became extra input for her as to how to approach Jade in the next conversation. The final piece of perspective-coordinating was the discussion of how to also help Jade's team see what was going on and involve them in understanding and helping Jade as well.

Are you ready to elevate your leadership to the next level?

If you're looking to transform your team's dynamics, enhance collaboration, or reduce conversational debt, I'm here to guide you. With over a decade of experience in leadership coaching, I've dedicated my career to helping executives and management teams unlock their full potential. My approach is centered around the concept of Co-Creative Leadership, focusing on fostering a culture of collaboration and action-oriented learning.

Contact me for a consultation, visit our Coaching page to learn more about my services, and check out my Speaking page to explore how I can inspire your audience with one of my talks.