As a new leader to a long-term, intact team, Janice balanced her desire to push her agenda forward and her inclusion of colleagues’ ideas. She had initiatives she wanted to accomplish and new directions for the organization, but she also realized early on how important the team was for her success. Team members were highly committed, knew the larger landscape in which the organization lived and had experienced enough lessons to contribute to the new leader’s success. Janice’s clarity about how she needed the team and wanted to work with them – not against – led to her engaging The Mulberry Partners in facilitating a series of retreats to develop the team and set the strategic direction in the coming years.

It was in one of these retreats that Janice’s take on the emerging vision revealed itself to be quite different than that of other team members. As the leader, she certainly had the final decision and could have vetoed team members’ ideas early on – but instead took the stance of listening and trying to understand the other points-of-view.

It was a show of civil discourse – a conversation where each party respected other perspectives and what was important to them.

As we worked our way through the draft of the vision, the language tightened and broadened and a picture emerged that honored the voices of those around the table. The thoughtful conversation was reflected in the draft and had the markings of a highly committed, knowledgeable team.

It wasn’t a case of settling on the lowest common denominator that watered down language to the point of blandness. My observation of how this team and their leader worked was via a genuine reciprocity that sought to convey the interests of the people who just might care the most about the organization.

As a leader, how do you engage your team? Are you genuinely interested in exploring the perspectives of those around the table? What might you gain should you take this stance? What might you lose? How do you hold onto creating a place for conversation that doesn’t devolve into us versus them? What are your beliefs about whose ideas have value? How do you express these beliefs in the way you approach your team?