In the two runs of the “Tip of the Iceberg” simulation that we did, both scenarios revolved around a company collaborating on a presentation that would hopefully encourage investment in the company’s products. I was a nonnative English speaker in both simulations, serving as the marketing and community outreach director in the first and second runs, respectively. The first simulation certainly was the hardest, with the first five minutes going really slowly as each group member grappled with the simulation’s challenges but the second run went much better. After discussing as a class, the second run ran much more smoothly as each member understood what may be holding back others from participating. I struggled to participate effectively in the first run as most of the communication I was receiving was nonsense and my ability to communicate was considerably slowed. By the second run however, I had a better personal strategy of sending short sentences to communicate my points rather than trying to write longer responses.
As a nonnative speaker in both simulations, I gained a lot of perspective on what it is like to be uncomfortable with the language of business. I have never worked in a group where the main language was not my first language so it was eye opening to experience what that may be like for someone in real life. It was stressful being on the receiving end of impatience from my teammates while I slowly and helplessly attempted to type a message in chat.
The simulation is very closely related to real global collaboration challenges as in the simulation those not fluent in the business language needed more time to communicate and did not understand everything that is being said. The simulation was very realistic as nonnative speakers may frequently miss longer words and technical terms that could make participation hard. The slow typing was also realistic as nonnative speakers will likely take longer to communicate while also using simpler vocabulary and grammar.
I adapted my own behavior to facilitate mutual understanding by proactively sending my thoughts into the chat and specifying which task I was referring to. By doing this, I made sure important information got out to the group without them waiting on me to type when the task finally came up. I also shortened my communication as much as possible. Additionally, I avoided speaking in my native language as it only further confused the group. The main takeaways I got from this simulation was the need for patience as well as the importance of consistently clarifying information with all group members. Native speakers of the language must be patient with nonnatives as they work to communicate to the best of their ability. Furthermore, fluent speakers must take it upon themselves to ensure those less fluent are understanding important information by checking in with them and seeking out their input.
I have learned a lot throughout this course, but I feel like it can all be traced back to flexibility in leadership. Each and every leadership scenario is different and so it requires a different approach from its leader. Every group has its own unique challenges, and it is partially up to the leader to adapt so that the group may overcome them. Going forward I am going to embrace these ideas and be more flexible in my leadership style. In the past, I have led with a similar style in every situation and while this was mostly effective from my point of view, my former teammates may disagree. I want to be more flexible so that I may better fit the individual needs of my teammates while still achieving success as a group.
Start: As I progress through future leadership roles, I want to start paying close attention to the challenges of my individual teammates and adapt my efforts to help them so that the broader group can perform better.
Stop: I want to stop having a unilateral approach to leadership. I have largely led with the same style in all situations in the past and I believe that it has held me back from being the best leader I can be.
Continue: I want to continue being a role model to those that follow me. I believe being the best leader also means being everything you expect your followers to be. This has always been a core part of my leadership style and I want to continue that as I move forward in life.
Change: In the future, I want to change the way I interact with my teammates. I want to focus more on fostering better relationships with those that I work with so that I can better lead them. By understanding them on a personal level, it will help me adapt my leadership style to best suit their needs and better gain their trust.