Continuing from my posts about the Leadership management, here, in this article, I would like to touch base upon one interesting game that we played. The game was all about understanding how one should understand the situation when he / she gets into a new situation / team or a company.

The game, as it progresses, uncovers how the mental situation of a person is in, when he is thrown into a new situation.

Lets understand the characters and rules of the game as follows,

Leader – the person who is newly put in the situation or given a charge of a completely new team

Team – the group of people who got a new leader and they are supposed to assist him settle down

Manager – the person who has hired the leader and has promised guidance in settling the team

Now, I would go about mentioning the situation and the specific rules and objectives as follows.


Situation 1 & Rules

All the team members are sitting in a room. The managers comes and introduces the Leader to the team and asks the team to help.  The task that is assigned to the Leader is to identify an object in the room. In this situation an office bag of one of colleague  and the team is supposed to help him, without speaking a word.

leader-arrowThe rules of the game were simple and as follows,

  1. The manager will explain the ‘goal’ to the leader and asks the leader to take help of the team to move ahead in his goal
  2. The team was asked to observe the movement of the leader in the room and clap if the leader is moving towards the intended object and remain silent if he is moving away from the object.
  3. Most important rule was that the team members were not allowed to speak or answer any questions of the leader.  If the leader speaks and asks, they were only supposed to smile and follow rule 2.
  4. The leader does NOT know, the rule 2 & 3.


Very interesting scenario ! 

I would now try to write the exact discussion that happened between the leader and the team members as follows. 


Leader enters the room and to everyone : Hello everyone.  My name is ___ and I have been appointed as your leader here.  I just had a discussion with my manager and he has asked me to come and talk to you all. He mentioned to me that there is some object that I need to find here.  Does anyone know what is it or where is it?  Would anyone like to help me?

As per rule, all the team members look at him, keep silent and smile !  The Leader is slightly confused and goes to Team members and asks them directly.

Leader to Team member 1: Hi, what is happening? Please can you help me here. My manager has asked me to look for some object but I am unable to find. Please can you help me?

Team member 1, smiles !

Leader to Team member 2: Hi, your other colleague is not helping me. Would you be able to help me?

Team member 2, smiles !

Leader to Team member 3 & 4: Guys, you have to help me here. I am not able to understand what the other guys are trying to say. They are just smiling looking at me and its not being helpful. Can you help me here?

Team member 3 & 4 smile ! The leader then goes to the Manager.

Leader to Manager: Hi boss, I think the team is not helping me. I am asking them questions but they are unable to help or answer to me at all. This is just being plain uncooperative.  Do you have any suggestions for this?

Manager to Leader: I think there is some miscommunication. I had asked the team to help you in their own capacity so they must be trying to help you. Why don’t you go and observe for some time what they are trying to tell you.

Leader goes back to the team and asks again, whether anyone knows what he was supposed to find. However, finds no luck so goes back to manager.

Leader to Manager: Boss, I am getting frustrated here. The team does not cooperate me and I am not able to achieve my goal here. The things are so frustrating to me. You need to come and help me here.

Manager to Leader: Try to understand and observe the pattern. Find out what signals they are giving you. I am sure they are responding to you in some way so I suggest you go back and observe more.

Leader, this time goes back and listen to the sound the team is making when he is moving in some direction. Remember, the team was told to clap if the leader is moving in right direction and be silent if he is moving in some other direction.

After a while of observation, the leader goes back to the Manager.

Leader to Manager: I see some kind of pattern in their clapping. If I move to north, they keep on clapping and if I move to south, they stop clapping. What kind of trend is this? Am I missing something?

Manager to Leader: Yeah, probably you need to figure that out yourself.

So, the leader goes back to the team floor and does some more observation and this time he understands the fact that the team is clapping when is nearing to the desired object (read goal) and keeping silent when he is moving away. 

Eventually, within minutes he finds out the exact object and everyone claps !


Now, lets take a pause and analyze what the mental state of the Leader would have been while the entire above process.

  • The leader expected the team to cooperate with him, in the language that he understands.
  • When the leader did not understand what the team was saying (i.e., clapping, being silent, not responding), he felt a bit irritated and went to on to talk to team members directly.
  • When that too did not work out, the leader’s frustration grew and probably went to the point of breaking.
  • However, with a little bit help from Manager, when he started to understand the language of the team members, he could find his goal easily.
  • In the end, he understood that the team was actually co-operating with him every time, however he was unable to understand them. It was not other way round.
  • Leader went through a very interesting and beautiful mind transition from frustration to success !


Situation 2 & Rules

leader-team Situation 2 is very similar to the Situation 1, however only one key rule was changed. The managers comes and introduces the Leader to the team and asks the team to help.  The task that is assigned to the Leader is to identify an object in the room. In this situation a mobile phone kept in the corner of the room and the team is supposed to help him.

The rules of the game were simple and as follows,

  1. The manager will explain the ‘goal’ to the leader and asks the leader to take help of the team to move ahead in his goal
  2. The team was asked to observe the movement of the leader in the room and Be Silent if the leader is moving towards the intended object and clap if he is moving away from the object. Exactly opposite of Situation 1.
  3. This time, if the leader asks the question. The team members were allowed to answer directly.
  4. The leader does NOT know, the rule 2 & 3.

Now, this time the situation gets even more interesting. Keeping in mind the earlier situation that the Leader had gone through.  The story goes as follows.

The Leader enters the room and tries to understand how the team is responding to his behaviour. He first tries to follow the claps but soon understands that the claps are not taking him to any specific direction, however the silence is.  So he follows the silence and nears the object and picks up in a quick time.

While it took almost 20 mins for the first situation to be resolved i.e., the leader finding the intended object, it took the same person about 5-7 minutes to find the object second time.  Even though it was smaller and was at a relatively remote place.

So lets look at few observations in Situation 2.

  • The leader did NOT ask any team members directly. He assumed that they will not help if he asks the question verbally.
  • He tried to understand the pattern and quickly understood that the pattern is different than the first situation.
  • He was able to grab the object in a quicker time than the Situation 1.


Essentially, the morale of the situations are,

  • When you enter new situations. Its good to carry your experience and ideologies, but its sometimes wrong to expect others to fall in line as you need.
  • It is essential to understand how the system works before applying your working techniques or forcing anything on the team.
  • Once you understand the system, you can always get into it and achieve your goal.
  • Most importantly, people do change so never carry perceptions (especially –ve) with you for long.
  • Remember ! Behaviour could be misleading but intent is never wrong, so get to the intent and do not make judgements based on behaviour.


So if we consider the situations in retrospect and find out how we can relate to our real life examples of events such as moving to a new team, taking the charge of a new project, joining a new organization etc., I am sure you would be able to find few similarities.

Would you mind sharing few of them with me here?


Image 1 credit | Image 2 credit

In my last post about the leadership management, I wrote about the negotiating skills and how we, as humans, try to play for the win/lose situations when we are negotiating for our goals. It was interesting to reflect back on us again, as humans, on what makes us perform this kind of behaviour.

This interesting aspect takes us to inspect ourselves and differentiate between what we really are and what others think of us as i.e., what we project to be.  Essentially, what we project to others is our ‘persona’, and believe me, we show plenty of them within us !

More or less, we in our professional or in the personal life, we portray various kind of personas depending on situations and we do so mostly to get our work done.  Have a look at the following personas and the kind of behaviour that is displayed by the person wearing the persona, it might help you relate back to your own behaviours.


Behaviour seen / bumper sticker !
typical observations
Conscientious Do the right thing … In high risk environments
Supercompetent Here, let me do it … Less risky or wants to show off
Devoted I will always be here for you … Care taker, family man / woman
Drama queen/king You would not believe the day I had … Super excitement in all things that are done
Performer The show must go on … Calling themselves practical thinkers, do not think of effects
Victim Why me ? Passive thinking, resistive nature
Critic I will tell you what is wrong … Wants to do, but points negative things first
Loner By myself … Super performer, normally thinks others do not align with me
Space out Huh… what ? Attitude !
Mr Nice Guy Sure ! Yes ! Wants to be in the right side of things always
Stoic I can take it … Tries to put a brave face but have fear inside
Hostile Out of my way … Puts too much pressure even for simple things
Self-righteous I will never … Man of principles, apparently
Rebel Not me, man ! Will do things in my own way ..
Shy I will wait for my turn … Why should I speak now, I will tell only if asked, even if its important
Chameleon Whatever you say … Flatterer, always says things, but does little


facemasksWhile wearing the personas itself is not a bad thing as such and we may need to wear them as the situation demands. However, what we should avoid is to have the persona overtake our actual self and make us believe in what we are not !

In case you are unable to find out what personas you have wore in the past then the following questions, given to us as a part of exercise, may help.


– What about specific people make you not connect with them ?

– Kind of people that you easily connect with ?

– What are some of the things that you resist in others?

– What are these things that I resist in myself ?

– Identify 5 examples of where you have demonstrated the same behaviour / action that you resist in others ?

– What are the 3/4 personas I use to,

             a) To be accepted / loved

             b) To get the job done

– When did you make your 1st appearance ?

– What are you most proud of ?

– What are you most afraid of ?

– What do you think will happen to <your name> if you are not in charge ?

– Whenever you take over, what are you always sure of getting from the environment ?


Think of the answers for the above questions and hopefully they will help you realize more about yourself.

As I mentioned in my last post about leadership, one of the most important aspect of leadership is to realize yourself and know more about your own behaviours, personas and intents about your own working style. Knowing about the personas help you understand what state of mind you are in and are you your real self or not, thus helps you take proper decisions in every step that may benefit you in the end.

So, try out the answers for the questions above and see what you realize about yourself !