Having different perspectives in a team means a lot of things. People will never always see the same. Resolution on a particular matter is not the same as having the same perspectives. You can reach consensus by working through differing perspectives. With different perspectives being inevitable, it is worth exploring what having different perspectives in a team means:
different perspectives are inevitable; it is what you handle them that determines whether you progress or regress
- Care: Different perspectives may also mean that people care enough to apply themselves. This can be reflected in instances when a team engages on the way forward. It could be the direction your enterprise must take or the design of a new package for a product. When people care about something, they personalize it. This is one of the reasons some discussions escalate into heated debates. When people care about something they are willing to fight for it. (This does not apply to cases of “ego fights”). No “fight” may suggest a lack of care. Having different perspectives on the same thing being articulated might just be care being articulated.
- Environment Indicator: Having different perspectives being articulated is often an indicator of a healthy team environment. In healthy environments, team members feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable. When team members are allowed to risk being vulnerable it creates an environment and opportunity for innovation. On the other hand, unhealthy team environments do not encourage vulnerability and innovation. Leader, slamming different perspectives is counterproductive. It takes away the confidence of your team for possible meaningful contribution.
- Unity Paradox: Differing perspectives are not synonymous with division. When there are different perspectives in a team it can mean there is unity. Yes, unity. It means that there is ownership for the enterprise and its cause. It means people are unified in the pursuit of progress. I am not suggesting that different perspectives cannot be a sign of division, but that different perspectives can also be indicative of unity. Before dismissing different perspectives, explore possibility of unity being expressed, especially when everyone envisages the same outcome, just a different means.
- Thinking: Different perspective means that the members of your team are thinking. When everyone always sees everything the same, it means some are not thinking. Team members fail the team and the cause when they leave the burden of thinking to others. Being part of the solution also means team players do not leave the thinking to others. Sometimes the solution is many thoughts away.
- Stronger: The adage, “Many hands make work light” is fitting when a team has differing perspectives. When a greater number of team members have different perspectives, it means there is opportunity to create something better. This does not mean having less perspectives will result in inferior decisions or products but that varied perspectives increase the possibility of better results and products.
Thus, leadership must encourage expression of different perspectives and explore them with the team, reinforcing that the mission is what all endeavors must enhance. It must create an environment that encourages vulnerability and honesty. Leadership must not be afraid of differing perspectives, instead be the ones to guard the mission of the enterprise by engaging with the team toward a consensus to move ahead.
Question: Are there any instances you have misinterpreted a different perspective? How did you handle it?