Why being a Culture Cultivator is vital for Remote Team
Currently, with some businesses back in operation, we will have staff staying at home due to illness or in protected categories; some people may request to stay at home permanently or temporarily as they don’t feel safe. Post lockdown, the face of business may have changed forever, with the prospect of (at the very least a hybrid) some of the team working from home and some working on site.
The Lockdown Blues
In the short term, we can possibly see an increase in productivity and a reduction in office costs from having remote teams. Employee’s value the reduced commuting time and there are also potential improvements in work-life balance that come with working from home.
But we’ve probably all experienced already that in reality increased flexibility and home-working may reduce some causes of stress for us but introduce new issues. These include challenges brought about by feeling hemmed in, there is also more technology overdependence (it’s a zoom world at the moment); there also can be work overload due to lack of boundaries and an imbalance of work and or family commitments. It’s more evident than ever before that we will need to harness our human resources to sustain and grow our business.
The ultimate Lockdown Leader
So what sort of leadership style should we adopt for our remote teams? It seems like there is a lot we as leaders need to do right now. Research out there about what style leaders should have for remote teams range from a more hands-off style popularised by Bass called Laisse Faire to Directive leadership and also include bold visionary leadership style commonly labelled Transformational Leadership which is often used for
more self- directed teams. But for now, I think it’s most important for us to use a blend of these styles to suit the needs of our business and teams.
I like the descriptions that Kim Fisher in her book the Distance Manager (2000) uses for remote leaders. These are Leader, Results Catalyst, Facilitator, Barrier Buster, Business Analyser, Coach, Living example. But I would add a very important aspect to that which I call “Culture Cultivator”. The remote leader should be linking the people and processes to the true essence of what the company is about and encourage all replicate those
social interactions that make the company unique. Peter Drucker says “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and I couldn’t agree more. In this omnichannel world with distance and technology, a leader will need to nurture the values, beliefs and rituals that bind people to each other and the company. Leaders will need to put all their efforts into creating a unique environment which bonds their teams to the purpose of the organisation. In this age of globalisation, talent war and increased competition, having a unique culture will become a defining factor to organisational success.