Some things in life are pure science…
…The distance from you to the closest grocery store.
…The weight of your first-born.
These are quantifiable facts in this world that just – well – they just are.
Then, there are things that are more complex…
…The love you have for your family.
…The feeling you get when you see a beautiful piece of art.
There are experiences we all have in life that just can’t be explained by science.
Some people look at the world through a scientific lens while some look at it with a more artistic point of view. Now, before you mumble to yourself, “I didn’t sign up for an existential conversation about the way the world works.” Here’s the deal: the way you look at the world – your filter – will affect how you lead your team.
If you tend to see your team members, and their problems, as issues with a definitive answer, it will influence the way you lead. The same will happen if you tend to see some of the world as unquantifiable; as more of a “gut thing.”
The key is knowing where you are so that you can compensate for your own blind-spots and develop the best team possible.
Science and Art
Maybe you’re the kind of person who believes that everything in life can, if given enough time, be explained away like physics or mathematics. In his book The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris writes about this in terms of morality, but the concept relates to leadership in a big way:
“My claim is that there are right and wrong answers to moral questions, just as there are right and wrong answers to questions of physics, and such answers may one day fall within reach of the maturing sciences of mind.” (pg. 28)
Think about Harris’ words in terms of leading people. Are there right and wrong answers to leading people just like there are right and wrong answers in science? Think about your team’s most recent conflict. There was probably someone on your team who was more hurt than others. There was someone on your team who was more comfortable with conflict that the rest of your team members. And, there are likely some issues that are still unresolved.
Here’s the difference between someone who thinks more scientifically and someone who thinks about people more artistically:
If you’re a leader who believes there is a right and wrong solution to people’s issues, you are already thinking to yourself, “If I do A and B, and they do C and D, then person E and person F will resolve their issues and my team will perform better.”
If you’re a leader who believes that things are more complex than that, you are thinking, “It may not have been the prettiest situation, but we’re still moving the needle toward our goals and the team is still intact. We will never reach perfection, but we can always be getting better.”
Can you see the difference? One way is more mathematical while the other is relational.
Over the course of three posts, we’re going to talk about both approaches to leading teams. In the next blog, we’ll talk about a more scientific way of building high-performing teams – ideas backed by research and practice. Then in the third blog, we’ll talk about a more artistic way of building teams – ideas that require you to have a good “feel” for the dynamics of your team.
As we go along, there are two things you need to keep in mind:
- You need both approaches to the world and to leadership. In fact, many times, they go hand-in-hand.
- The way you view the world will affect how you lead other people. It’s important for you to decide where you fall on the spectrum so you can look out for your own blind-spots and lead to your strengths.
We’re excited to help you become a better leader who, in turn, can better lead your team members toward their goal. See you soon for Part 2 of our three-part series, The Art and Science of Leading a High Performing Team!