It is difficult for Americans to see the relationship between team lead to team member as anything but personal. This for three reasons.
“Your success is my success.” Every American team-lead thinks this, and often says this, to their team members. For it is literally true. The team lead’s success or failure is dependent on her team’s success or failure. Co-dependence is by definition personal.
An American team lead sees himself as coach, mentor, in some cases perhaps even as friend. Each of these roles – in sports, education, relationships – is deeply personal.
Finally, Americans consider it to be next to impossible to have a working relationship between lead and team which is purely business, objective, impersonal. In fact, Americans would not want to work in such an atmosphere. In the U.S. feedback talks, both formal and informal, are personal.
But, in Germany, also. The approach, the logic, the shared operating assumptions are different, however. The more objective, impersonal and neutral the feedback, the more accurate, fair, therefore helpful it is.
“I want you to succeed. Therefore, I will be as clear, analytical and precise as possible.” The German team lead seeks to take herself and the working relationship out of the equation. The focus is on what the company is trying to achieve and the team member’s important role within it. This is neither about her as lead or about their personal relationship.