[This post is part of a series on The Model — my model for the human emotional system designed for use in leadership, self-awareness, and general purpose professional and personal development — which I find the most effective and valuable foundation for understanding yourself and others and improving your life. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Leadership depends on understanding that other people have different models. A leader who doesn’t recognize people can have different models will create discord and confusion, as today’s example will illustrate. I draw this example from my life.
After business school a friend told me her consulting job was taking her to Mexico City. This made her happy because she was learning Spanish and looked forward to practicing it.
A few months later I ran into her again and, thinking she had already returned, asked her how the trip went.
“I haven’t gone yet,” she said.
“Why not? I thought you were about to go last time.”
“I don’t know. Things keep coming up. I don’t understand. There’s never a good reason, but we keep postponing.”
A few months later — by now six months after she originally hoped to go — I saw her again and asked if she’d gone yet. She explained.
She was going in a team of two. Her teammate’s mother, it turns out, thought Mexico City was dangerous. Her teammate didn’t want to tell people she was scared or that her mother overly protected her, so she didn’t reveal her model.
So my friend’s team had two conflicting models
- Mexico City is a great opportunity
- Mexico City is dangerous
but no one exposed the conflict. Two people don’t have to view the same thing identically.
This case implies to me poor leadership on the part of the two teammates’ manager, but I don’t have enough information to say. I can say that exposing the conflict earlier probably would have helped the team meet its client’s interests sooner. Once you see the conflict, how to solve it becomes clear.
Exposing the conflict requires awareness of how we use models. If you do know how we use models, you almost can’t help check for differences like the Mexico City one.
I call this basic awareness the passive view of models, which I’ll describe in more depth tomorrow, summarizing the lessons of the past few posts. Then I’ll continue to the active view.
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