The beauty of having a diverse team is that each person brings different experiences to their unique roles. They also have different perspectives and leadership styles. As the leader, you need to find the best way to motivate the team to accomplish the goals. So how do you do that?
This was my dilemma about 16 years ago. I had a team that was made up of internal employees, external contractors, differing levels of expertise and different leadership styles. Did I mention that this was my first project in this department and I was given a really aggressive due date? I knew that to make this work we all had come together on what we were going to deliver and everyone was going to have to be all in to make it happen. That was the easy part. Everyone is always excited at the beginning to get started on a new project. They are learning new things and forming a new team. It is called the “honeymoon period” for a reason.
However, once we started to run into big challenges, the team started to struggle. I was leading the team the best way that I knew how, but I had a big lesson to learn. I realized that I was expecting everyone on the team to do things the way that I did them and learn the way that I learned. That was not the case. People on the team were not going to flex to my style. I needed to flex to theirs instead. It is called Situational Leadership. (www.situational.com) Learning this leadership model taught me that I had to learn what motivated them, how much guidance they required and how they learned. Learning about situational leadership helped me to learn how to flex my style and bring the team back together. I am happy to say that the team came together, worked some miracles and delivered on time. The lessons I learned on that project are things that I have carried with me every time I work with a new team. It is definitely true that the hardest lessons to learn are the ones that you remember the most.