Building Culture in Remote Teams

In this episode, Tom talks about some of the key things that a leader must be mindful of in order to build and nurture a positive workplace culture in remote teams.

Building Culture in Remote Teams

  • Be clear about the purpose of the organisation.
  • Be clear about your strategy and appreciate your team’s role in building that strategy. Make them feel that they are a part of it. 
  • Make sure that there is clarity on the roles of each team member. 
  • Having a well-thought onboarding process is critical. Make sure that your team is well-equipped with the things they need to know when they start and that there is someone that they can talk to about different things. 
  • Communication is important. 
  • Technology is not a substitute for human interaction. Keep building that human relationship despite the distance and all the wonderful tools around communication. 
  • Keep in mind that different people prefer different ways to communicate. Some people like written words whilst other people like having conversations.
  • Different people may work differently. Some people can work well by themselves whilst other people thrive on working with others.
  • Always be checking on your team. It helps build that personal connection.
  • Your team knows how to do the job. What is even more important are the soft skills in building relationships – how do you share ideas and how do you deal with conflict as a team? All these things come into play in terms of building a positive workplace culture. 
  • Keep your relationship with your team at a deep level. Show them that you care. Always remember that you are working not just across cultures but across distance and time.

Today’s Take-away

  • How does your organisational culture look like? What are some of the things that you do to build and nurture a positive remote team culture?
  • How do you ensure that your team culture leads to high performance?

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Leading Cross-Cultural Teams in Times of Uncertainty

In this episode, Tom discusses how leaders can effectively lead and manage remote teams in times of uncertainty. 

Leading Cross-Cultural Teams in Times of Uncertainty

  • We are living in a VUCA world – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity.
  • Some cultures have a high level of uncertainty avoidance. They are far more resistant to change compared to others. They like things to be set in a very structured way and most of the time, they need more assistance and guidance to navigate through.
  • Global leaders must know at length the countries where their remote teams are in, the kind of culture that they have, and how they adapt to change.
  • The Three H model is a simple model that is being used for discussions around diversion and inclusivity. Three H’s stand for:
    • Head –  a leader must ensure that there is clarity on the vision, purpose, and strategy of the organisation.
    • Hand – the doing piece. A leader must ensure that his team is well-equipped with the things they need to do their jobs well.
    • Heart – explicitly caring for each individual. It’s all about taking care of and looking after your team members.
  • Working remotely is a skill. It’s a skill that you need to develop and be constantly working on.

Today’s Take-away

  • As a leader, how do you help your teams navigate through in times of uncertainty?
  • How do you manage your own level of anxiety and fear in times of uncertainty in order to lead your team to success?

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Hardiness

In this episode, Tom discusses why it’s important for leaders to demonstrate a sense of hardiness, especially when working across different cultures.

Hardiness

  • Hardiness means being tough, resilient, and having the ability to bounce back.
  • As a leader, it’s important to really understand what your motivations are when you are looking to expand your practice beyond your borders and to really get to know the particular market you are entering which will then inform you of the strategy that you need to take. 
  • Regardless of the amount of preparation you’ve done, you are going to make mistakes because it’s impossible for you to learn everything about a particular culture. Being able to step back and dust yourself off is important.
  • Learn to admit your mistakes. Humility is an important aspect of cultural intelligence.
  • “What leaders do around the world is the same, but how they do it is determined by culture and tradition.” – Peter Drucker
  • A consultant’s role is to improve a client’s condition. What might have worked easily in your patch may not quite fit in a different culture so you need to expand your repertoire. Having the ability to utilise your knowledge within their local context is key.
  • Travel opens the mind.
  • When dealing with people who are from a different culture, remember to always maintain a level of humility, be open, and practice curiosity. 
  • Mistakes are part of the process. Jump back and get on with it. 

Today’s Take-away

  • As a leader, how do you demonstrate a sense of hardiness whilst at the same time being humble?

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Market Entry Preparations

In this episode, Tom discusses how business leaders can successfully navigate the process of expanding to new markets and prepare their teams for it.

Market Entry Preparations

  • Organisational culture fit is critical. Every organisation has its own culture ad so it’s important to look at how that is going blend with each other when working across borders.
  • Know the people that you are going put together on this team – people who are multi-lingual and are able to work in different time zones. 
  • An on-the-ground connection is critical. You need to have someone from the joint venture partner who will advocate for you and help you navigate the nuances of not just the organisational culture but also the local culture.
  • Establish some guidelines to deal with conflict.
  • Define and develop a successful exit strategy.
  • Look after your partner. Instead of thinking about how you can make more money with the partnership, think about how you can help your business partner make more money. 
  • It always makes sense to bring people together to work on big projects. Get your team together physically to start building those relationships.

Today’s Take-away

  • Are you looking to expand to new markets? How are you preparing for it?
  • What strategies do you already have in place to help ease the challenges of a joint venture partnership?

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Unintended Consequences

In this episode, Tom discusses how leaders can create a more equitable workplace culture by being aware of the unintended consequences of our actions.

Unintended Consequences

  • A whisper at the top becomes a shout at the bottom.
  • As a leader, you want to have the right person for the job and you want to ensure that that person can do the job, however, the more important thing is for you to create a more equitable workplace. 
  • Be clear about your intentions. 
  • Always be conscious of how your message comes across. 
  • Ask for feedback. As a leader, having people who can let you know how things are going is extremely important.
  • None of us is perfect. There are times when what we say or do can have unintended consequences. Be wise enough to think about how your message or action comes across. 

Today’s Take-away

  • As a leader, how do you minimise the risk of unintended consequences?
  • Do you have a feedback mechanism in place? 
  • Are you getting the intended consequences of your decisions? If not, what do you need to do?

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Adapting to Unforeseen Circumstances

In this episode, Tom reflects on some of the unexpected things that are happening to our world now and discusses how global leaders can effectively adapt to unforeseen circumstances. 

Adapting to Unforeseen Circumstances

  • The ability to reframe is critically important for leaders especially in times of unforeseen circumstances.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Self-care is extremely important. You cannot look after others if you’re not looking after yourself.
  • Engage with others. Make use of the time to brainstorm ideas with other people. 
  • Being resilient in times of unforeseen events is critical for a leader. Don’t let these unforeseen events knock you down. Pick yourself up and adapt to the change.
  • Be present. The only moment that you have the power to control is now.

Today’s Take-away

  • As a leader, how do you demonstrate resilience when unforeseen circumstances occur? How do you adapt?

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Responding vs Reacting

In this episode, Tom discusses the difference between responding vs reacting, and some of the steps that a leader can take to respond in a better manner when dealing with situations that he may not agree with.

Responding vs Reacting

  • A good leader is one who is able to respond in a better manner instead of reacting so quickly when faced with situations that he/she may not agree with.
  • RADER stands for Recognise, Analyse, Decide, Execute, Reflect.
  • It’s important for a leader to take a moment to think and decide how he is going to respond. 
  • It helps a lot when you’re curious. Ask questions and clarify before reacting all at once.

Today’s Take-away

  • Think about a time when you have reacted to a certain situation or idea and compare it to a time when you have actally responded to a situation/idea. What’s the difference?

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Psychological Safety

In this episode of the CQ for Global Leaders Podcast, Tom discusses how leaders can create and cultivate a culture of psychological safety for their teams.

Psychological Safety

  • Psychological safety is about creating an environment where people feel safe to speak up.
  • Repercussion is one of the key reasons why people don’t speak up.
  • Encourage people to raise issues that may be uncomfortable. More so, as a leader, you need to be able to exhibit that yourself and challenge some of the systems so that people can actually see you doing it. 
  • The standard you walk by is the standard you accept.
  • Don’t just react at once when someone challenges you or says something that you disagree with because everyone will be watching your reaction. Practice curiosity. Ask questions.
  • Acknowledge people for speaking up. Acknowledge the difficulty of challenging the status quo. Thank that person for doing that.
  • Highlight these examples of speaking up and challenging the status quo of how it shifted things and made them better.
  • Close the loop. Let people know what you are going to do about the issue that was raised or what you did as a result of what they have pointed out, and more importantly if for some reason you are unable to take any action.
  • Have a healthy ego. Oftentimes when feedback is very direct in nature, it is more powerful.
  • Psychological safety increases wellness. It reduces the number of people who may suffer from anxiety or depression in an organisation. There’s a higher level of engagement and people perform better.

Today’s Take-away

  • What’s the level of psychological safety in your team?
  • Have quick conversations with your team. Ask them how comfortable they feel in bringing up things that are uncomfortable.

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Leading with Compassion

In this episode of the CQ for Global Leaders Podcast, Tom talks about compassion and what it means to be a compassionate leader.

Leading with Compassion

  • Being compassionate means having the ability to feel for another person. It means to love and care for someone.
  • A compassionate leader is one who is vested in his team’s success.
  • Bringing the best out in someone requires compassion.
  • A leader can be tough yet compassionate at the same time.
  • We each have our own issues that we are dealing with. It helps build a level a compassion when you remind yourself that you are just like everyone else. 
  • Compassion requires traits such as warmth, kindness, generosity, listening and demonstrating wisdom. 
  • All major religions in the world teach compassion as a virtue. 
  • Showing compassion and empathy for customers leads to more successful outcomes.

Today’s Take-away

    • What’s your level of compassion as a leader and how do you demonstrate that?

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Leading in Crisis

In this episode of the CQ for Global Leaders Podcast, Tom discusses the five things a leader must do in times of crisis and uncertainty.

Leading in Crisis

  • A crisis can be defined as when things that are completely unexpected occur and it basically impacts the lives of the people around you.
  • The first thing that a leader must do in times of crisis is to stay calm. A leader needs to project a sense of stability and security. 
  • Have a group of experts to give you advice in times of crisis that can help you make an informed decision.
  • Leaders must be able to demonstrate equanimity. In other words, the ability to keep calm in the midst of uncertainty.
  • It’s OK to say that you don’t know much rather than pretending to be knowledgeable when you’re not. People can sense that even if they are not experts in that particular field.
  • It’s important for leaders to be seen and overcommunicate in times of crisis.
  • A great leader is one that is able to demonstrate empathy and compassion. It gives people a sense of certainty in times of crisis.
  • Self-care is important. Take some time out to look after yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the energy of a crisis and it’s important for a leader to demonstrate the ability to hold that space.
  • Have other people in your sphere who can also step into the role of a leader so that if ever you need some time for self-care that person can step up and maintain that level of certainty without people thinking that all of sudden the leader is gone. 

Today’s Take-away

  • Have you experienced any crisis as a leader? 
  • How did you deal with it?

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