Over the last few weeks, I have had to deal with many challenges. I have had to bite my tongue and trust unproven methods, brush up against distended egos, and gain the respect of experienced strangers. More than anything, I have learned a lot about how to be a leader within a team.
I have realized that leadership within a group of equals is much more complicated than leadership in front of a large crowd. Because there is no hierarchy, no one person has the ultimate authority. So when a conflict arises, it turns into a battle of wills. When I experienced this, I tried using mixtures of diplomacy and tenacity to diffuse the situations while still searching for solutions. Although things still didn’t work out exactly as I had wanted them to, I didn’t say anything I would regret, probably for the first time.
I found that the only way to have open, productive discussions with people was to have their respect. Furthermore, respect only arose when people felt engaged and that their ideas were being heard. Unless I actively expressed that every person had something unique to bring to the table, collaboration would never really occur. Each person would continue working within their own little bubble, accomplishing small tasks. Nothing truly amazing would ever be created.
What fascinates me is that this is what Public Workshop has always stood for: listening to communities and collaborating with them to create change. I can’t believe I was finally let in on the secret. – Ila Kumar