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The key to leading dispersed, distributed teams

Posted by on 8 Feb 2014 in The Capable Leader | 0 comments

While trust is an important component in the success of any co-located team, it is especially critical in the success of distributed teams. There are few large companies that have all their staff co-located in one location. Hence the skills required by a leader to build strong working relationships with his/her distributed teams are of vital importance to most companies today. Work remains largely a social endeavour developed through interaction. Distance therefore can result in a number of issues. These include how fairly knowledge gets distributed and shared, how frequently unplanned insight rich business conversations are possible across a geographic divide and the extent to which everyone gets equal access to context critical information about assignments on the go. At the heart of these issues is interpersonal trust and how trust is sustained when face-to-face interactions are limited or not regular. The tendency for organisations to rely on email, other written communication such as newsletters and the intranet does not adequately address some of these very real issues. This is primarily because of the way in which work related knowledge is shared, retained, developed and created. Knowledge sharing, in particular the sharing of deeper role related insights often depends on personal connections rather than (or more often in addition to) the transfer of knowledge impersonally through codified documents and standardised processes. In complex businesses where knowledge does not lend itself to being codified easily, most knowledge is held tacitly. That is to say that valuable knowledge is often carried in the heads of experienced people and subject matter experts who themselves will struggle to articulate let alone document what it is they know. Trust and interacting and trust and collaboration are mutually reinforcing, trust helping to decrease the costs of coordination and knowledge sharing. Research on social attributions shows that when people see each other as members of a co-located group, they are more likely to extend the benefit of doubt regarding any social transgressions. So if I am part of a co-located group and I have been left out of a distribution list or inadvertently left out of a meeting or conference call I ought to be at, I am more likely to give that instance less prominence than if I was in a distributed team located elsewhere. However, many small transgressions such as this experienced by a distributed team will add up, misunderstandings quickly build and consequently the propensity to trust those at the ‘centre’ is impacted. Sometimes even when these transgressions are unintentional, over time they come to be perceived as intentional. This can then morph into a major barrier to collaboration and team performance and adds to the overall perception of “otherness”. To better understand...

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Posted by on 3 Feb 2014 in The Capable Leader | 0 comments

Humility is often distinguished as the most defining attribute of great leadership – not only demonstrated by the greatest leaders of all time but also supported now by research. So can humility be developed? http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/09/six-principles-for-developing/

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The tyranny of low expectations – are quotas the only way

Posted by on 2 Feb 2014 in The Capable Leader | 0 comments

At Davos this year, Christine Lagarde, Head of the International Monetary Fund lent her formidable weight to the argument about quotas for women in boardrooms. She argued that quotas were required to remove the “Tyranny of low expectations” for women. Making the numbers of women legally enforceable she said was unfortunate but now necessary.  On a panel she described how her attitude towards quotas has evolved over time. During her time with an international law firm, she formed the view that unless they had targets, if not quotas, there was no way they were going to have a significant number of females in the partnership.  She now says she is pro-quota and pro-target and she adds that leaders should be made accountable in order to reach those targets.  Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook and another Davos panellist also added her voice. She added “in the last US election, women represented 20% of the vote in the Senate and every headline in the US said ‘Women take over the senate’. 20% representation of 50% of the population is not a takeover, it is a problem” she said. Yes, it is truly a tyranny of low expectations. To read more on the reported story visit: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/while-men-are-in-charge-gender-quotas-are-the-only-way-to-increase-the-number-of-women-in-boardrooms-9091582.html...

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