Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Global Layer Cake

OnPoint Consulting recently surveyed 48 virtual teams (VTs) across industries to identify specific practices associated with VT success and VT leadership.

Team members:

1. Demonstrate a high level of initiative
2. Are willing to assume leadership responsibility
3. Have a shared process for decision making and problem solving
4. Are clear about how their work contributes to the success of the organization
5. Provide timely feedback to one another
6. Trust one another to get things done
7. Are willing to put in extra effort to get things done
8. Work together effectively
9. Help one another achieve team goals

What are the behaviors of the most effective VT leaders?

1. Effectively manages change
2. Fosters an atmosphere of collaboration among team members
3. Communicates team goals and direction
4. Invites constructive feedback from team members
5. Empowers team members to make decisions
6. Shares information in a timely manner

The research resonates with lessons learned in my own experiences with VTs. One thing we have to be careful of in a global environment, however, is interpretation. What does 'demonstrating initiative' mean in different cultures? Do we recognize it when we see it in different cultural groups? Are we sure we would all have the same understanding of 'timely feedback', or 'empowers'? Do we all see the value and wisdom in assuming 'leadership responsibility'? What I'm saying is that beneath seemingly clear statements can lie layers of complexity to make our brains - and everything else - hurt! Those of us working on global virtual teams don't need to be trained anthropologists, but we do need to be alert to differences in perception and meaning that can turn our best practices into worst nightmares.

No comments: