Blogpost #8: Reflecting on the Iceberg and the Course

From today’s simulation, our groups were placed in two different scenarios: the first one as a solar wireless speaker company, and the other as a distributor if clean water to areas in need. In our initial run, I was a nonnative English speaker who could only read every other word or so that the other team members spoke in English, while also being limited to typing about one character per second. These factors led to me not completely understanding what was going on, and barely contributing to the group discussion. I believe my group did pretty well overall, but I did not feel very involved in the process. I kept my input very short, and was sometimes hard for the others to interpret as well. I also found myself agreeing with what was said, even if it looked like gibberish to me, since I didn’t want to hold back the group. In the second attempt, after we discussed possible solutions as a class, I was the CEO and a native English speaker. I had to compile the information the group provided, while also keeping the group on track to finish in 15 minutes. My personal experience in this portion of the simulation was much clearer, though the lack of communication from the nonnative speakers was noticeable, and asking them about their opinions may not have gotten through to them effectively. My methods were to repeatedly ask members for their opinions on specific question numbers, and writing down information and asking group members to send emojis reflecting their opinions of the answers.

When comparing my time as a nonnative speaker in the first round to my time as a native speaker in the second round, I feel like I had an advantage based both on communication and understanding what the other members could and couldn’t do as the native speaker. I was less inclined to panic after long pauses where questions were not answered, and instead was more open to waiting despite the time limit consistently stressing me out.

Global collaboration insight I received from both this simulation and the discussion afterwards included simplifying language on both ends, repeating questions and ideas in different ways so that the nonnative speakers have room to understand, and getting direct feedback from the group using emojis after making big decisions. Though these methods may not be 100% effective, I believe it’s a great starting point that keeps people mindful of the differences within a global team, and I felt an improvement between the first and second runs of the simulation while incorporating these thoughts into our actions.

The main things I learned and will bring with me from this specific simulation include actively listening to what does and doesn’t work for team members so we can move forward at a healthy pace, keeping an open mind, and also being clear with team members on any limits there are with online communication and understanding that can be fixed. Identifying small problems that can lead to greater misunderstanding and take away from the team goal is important, and addressing them early was very helpful for my group. I also will be able to reflect back on how I communicate, and scale back on any phrases or words that may muddle understanding. I also learned a few downsides to using emojis to communicate, since sending an angry face will not help much if the member struggles to clarify why it was sent. I’ll continue to work on these ideas and bring them up as I continue with global leadership in the future.

From this course overall, I gained a deeper understanding of effective leadership practices that would help me and my team succeed in the future. By both identifying my internal thought process through situations, as well as the intricacies of working with conflict and contribution from team members, I feel as if I’m leaving this course with a solid foundation with which to continue my leadership practices. By getting these resources, I’m able to have specific examples and understandings on how to handle tricky situations I may not have any other experience in. Having a moment to reflect and see what worked and didn’t work throughout the course was very eye-opening, and helped me understand my personal leadership process. Going forward, I’d like to continue with what I’ve learned here and keep reflecting on my actions as a leader in order to improve myself and my teams.

Based on what I’ve learned from this course, I’m going to start asking for feedback from team members and making sure burden is shared equally among the group in order to keep conflict within whatever our main task is. Though I’m a pretty sensitive person, I’ll make an effort to take criticism well and get different perspectives to see a fuller picture. I’ll also stop trying to divide people across global lines, which I initially suggested last class, in favor of overall collaboration over the shared information of a few members with a better-known other language. It will create an “us vs. them” mentality, and I know that avoiding divisions is a priority. In leadership, I’m planning to continue getting many perspectives on topics we go over, and getting to know team members in order to reach them more effectively. As I grow as a leader, I plan to use both the reflections of my group members and myself to improve and change. The more experience I get, the more clear patterns will hopefully appear so that I can lead in my own way. I know the path to effective leadership isn’t linear, and that it’ll be a bumpy road, but I’m glad that this course gave me ground to stand on.

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