Sometimes we need a reminder of where we stand in the job we’re doing so we can do our best version of the job. These are written from the leader’s perspective, but we can think of them in the reverse too.
Coaching: I’ve got your back, you’ve got my support and belief
Consulting: I’m over your shoulder, you’ll get my advice and critiques
Creating: I’m/we’re exposed, taking a risk and trying something new
With clients or colleagues, we can use these to run better meetings and make more meaningful interactions. It’s ok to change positions too, so long as we do it with purpose. What we want to avoid is holding one position when we should be doing another.
If we say we have someone’s back but keep peering over their shoulder with corrections, we might damage the relationship and the results. Likewise, when someone is creating, we have to respect the risk they’re taking and reposition ourselves around it. We might be supportive before and critical afterwards, or any other variation depending on the goal.
Here are three other important positions to remember:
Curating for: face to face, I’m editing content to pass you information
Competing against: also face to face, remembering we both think we can win
Competing with: shoulder to shoulder, remembering we’re a team and will win or lose together (and face to face with the opposition)
Notice how curating for and competing against both happen face to face. We have to be careful not to confuse them. Anyone who’s been intimidated when presenting or hasn’t gotten bad news passed to them until it’s too late understands. The latter two also matter for settling disputes and problem-solving. They help us define who the “other” is and where our energy should be focused.
When we think of where we stand and why, we keep our heads in the right space for what needs to get done. Try it before your next meeting. Ask what position you and the other attendees belong in and arrange it accordingly. When we know our roles, we position ourselves to do the work that matters most.