Get ready to lead diverse team

We all have the experience of leading; no matter it’s in the academia or business context, even just among friends during traveling. How do we take our performance as a well leadership or not? Should we follow guidelines to make ourselves to become a role model leader? I assume the answer might be “It depends,” since we all understand leadership is not only about the leader him/herself, but also concerned all the stakeholders.

 

  1. Increasing Complexity and Diversity of Environment

According to Hofstede’s researches on national cultural, leaders need to keep updating their perception towards diverse members’ background and preferences. The business context nowadays is no longer national or single cultural, but easily reach various cultures in one single team or market. In order to understand and lead the team members, leaders should adapt the communication skills to be more open-minded with different background members. With well communication and understanding, it’s more likely for leaders to start the positive relation with members in the diverse team.

As the members’ point of view, it’s also difficult for them to join a diverse environment with unfamiliar knowledge and tasks. Leaders could properly guide the diverse members to integrate themselves with each other, by showing them the differences between each other, and the best way for the whole team to collaboration. It’s important for the diverse team leaders to come up with a team-identified consensus of teamwork, in order to ensure the minimum conflict, and maximum performance.

 

  1. Deliver the shared objectives

The team is made for few shared objectives to be completed, however, leaders and each member might have different understanding and perception towards these objectives. As we already realised the benefit from diverse team, which could be innovation, various talent, and multi-cultural context competences, leaders still have to dedicate efforts to build up communications cross the team, to ensure each member realise what the purpose and objectives need to be improved.

Leaders could share the goals to members not from the details, which is the “what” in context, but to discuss with them about the “why”. It will help members to realise their purpose and even their importance in the whole team and entire planning and implementation process. Therefore, leaders in the future diverse team should communicate the “why” value first, influence the members with their efforts’ purpose, then further check their progress on details.

 

  1. Influencing members towards same direction

There’s usually a certain power and control relation between leaders and members within the team, leaders need to clarify and wisely take advantage of the power to make sure that members are all on the right track of achieving shared objectives. The powers could be clarified into two kinds: organisational and personal power. When leaders take advantage of the organisational power, it’s easy for them to control members’ behaviour since members are forced to take the orders. In the other words, members would be following the leaders not necessarily because they are highly engaged, but followed the leader due to the organisational regulation. Leaders can still influence them well by reward, coercive, and by the legitimate power, but members might not be active and passionate about the team shared goal.

As for the personal power of leaders, it would influence members in different level. When it comes to referent power or so-called charisma, leaders are not necessarily noticing their behaviour in influencing members, but members would be willing to follow them to fulfill the shared goal without having reward or being commanded. Leaders with high-professional skills could also take advantage of expert power to influence the members, and members are also convinced by the reliability from the leaders, which could collaboration under the leaders’ dictate.

 

  1. Leading the team without leaders

In a talented diverse team, it could be possible that create a leaderless environment, and every member could be the one who takes in charge of the specific sector. Here’s how Steve Jobs describes Apple as the largest startup full of collaboration, no committee, and perfectly evaluate the concept of leaderless, trustworthy teamwork.

With the trustful partners, not members and leaders, in the diverse team for clear goal to complement together, I supposed this would be the ideal way of managing a team with leaders. There’s no necessarily to have a leader hustle around and try to put everyone in the right place, in the contrary, every talented, self-motivate, and self-mastery colleagues realised the team shared goals and all dedicated to the results and outcomes. In this case, as Jobs told us, it’s good to have argument, there were great arguments happened in the team and brought the team forward to the accomplishment. Same situation could apply to my ideal leadership, which would be: fully understanding the team, high engagement with the task, and create the self-motivation environment for strong collaboration. Leader position? Not necessary.

 

References

Mullins, L.J., (2013) Management & Organisational Behaviour. UK: Pearson Education Limited

Sinek, S. (2009) How great leaders inspire action [online] available from <http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action#t-86304> [28 March 2014]

Steve Jobs talks about managing people (2010) [online] available from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f60dheI4ARg> [28 march 2014]

Differences brought to individuals and organisation by ethical leaders

Why we consider Ethics

Before people take ethics into consideration, leaders are highly task-orientated within various organisations. While business rapidly grew, people started to focus on individuals and society impacts, which might be related to the organisations. In the business point of view, brings ethics into strategic level might ensure organisation’s sustainability. As the employees, ethics could make the working environment and relationships more engaging. We then have the discussion below, to illustrate if ethical leaders bring positive influence to organisation and individuals’ performance, and how?

Outcome-Orientation

Consequentialist could be one of the widely applied ethic principles for leader to take consideration, which is results evidence and justification during the action. As the outcome-orientation point of view, leaders have to consider the benefit for the majority. It seems a quite democracy environment to take the lead for considering majority’s best option, but meanwhile, it also means the “necessarily sacrifice” to disadvantage groups might come up with the action.

This ethic leadership might also bring the situation of confusion: ‘bad’ action could have ‘good result’, according to the majority’s best option. That is to say, no standard rules we could follow in the process that leaders try to make the majority better result, but not to every stakeholder, so it would have potential risk for the weaker group of diverse members to be considered.

Rules/Principle-Orientation

According to the disadvantage of the outcome-orientation ethics, leaders could also take the deontological way to apply its ethical leading. To compare with consequentialist, deontological leadership would set the action principle in advance, in order to ensure every each member has the same starting point in the team. The best result for the team is not for the majority, but the accuracy of the implementing.

Leaders would be responsible for checking every action applied to the code of conduct or code of ethics. For code of conduct, it’s more linked to the regulation and organisational objectives in an ethical way. Managers and members should follow the principle for every action on the behalf of the team. As for the higher level of code of ethics, would be the statements related to organisational values. Managers and leaders could take advantage of the value to evaluate further codes or principles for the members to stay on the right track.

How should Leaders apply Ethics?

Leaders should apply to the ethics within the organisation depending the situation, in order to combine both methods mentioned above. Leaders could have followers participate in the decision of what is the ethical operation result for the team, and how would all the stakeholders act in certain ethical way. For instance,Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook operation manager, implemented the family-focused code of ethic, which allows her members could leave work early and punctually for family and personal life, but still maintain the working quality (Forbes 2014). Future leaders could also come up with the ethical way, which could build motivation, also remain the performance and raise recognition.

 

References

Forbes (2014) #1619 Sheryl Sandberg. [online] available from <http://www.forbes.com/profile/sheryl-sandberg/> [28 March 2014]

Mullins, L.J., (2013) Management & Organisational Behaviour. UK: Pearson Education Limited

Leading the team to positively adapt changes

Why changes

In the era of rapid and massive changes happened, leaders definitely have response to take the team to overcome the conflicts and maladjustments brought by various change. To have a look into change itself, we could define it as internal changes happened within the organisation, the culture and policies changed by the supervisors’ order; meanwhile, the changes happened externally also brings massive influence to the organisation and individuals. Therefore, leaders’ responsibilities are not only taking the team to overcome changes and adaptions, but also to judge whether the internal and external changes would be benefit to the stakeholders in the beginning.

 

Impact from the Changes

  1. Positive
  • Efficiency: In order to achieve high efficiency in the organisation, managers would usually introduce new procedures or code of conducts. As the purpose of higher performance, this kind of change would bring positive effect to the organisation and individuals.
  • Performance: To complete task in new approaches for better performance, teams have to face the changes of enhancement. It could include new technologies, new knowledge training, and skills practicing. Performance enhancement could not only bring positive growth to the team, but also help the members gain competences individually.
  • Development: Members could take advantage of organisation’s change to develop their career position and crucial skills with the team. In order to achieve higher employability skills and professional skills, members should embrace the changes to improve themselves for future development.

 

  1. Negative
  • Conflicts: The changes might bring the “new”, which is incompatible to the existing system or culture. As the members’ point of view, it’s more likely to resist the change, which might keep them out of the comfort zone. The resisting process would usually become conflicts between organisation, managers, leaders, and members.
  • Adjustment barrier: Though members might be willing to take the challenge of changes, they still face the situation of lacking knowledge or skills to deal with new requirements. This barrier would first drag down the efficiency of changes complement, and then cause the frustration to the team members.
  • Underperformance: According to the conflicts and barriers mentioned above, members could hardly achieve better performance in the beginning of the changes. Leaders should provide any possible support to them for raising performance level and quick adaption.

 

How leaders help organisation to overcome changes and grow positively

Culture Web (Johnson, Scholes, and Whittington 2005)

Through analyse the culture web’s six dimensions, leaders would deliver the difference and benefits from before changing to after. Each dimension shows how the organisation been internally and externally reviewed. It also helps the leaders to define how was the culture before change, and how is the culture going to cultivate through the changes. Through the comparison, leaders could have followers become more open-minded to embrace the positive changes.

Phases of Planned Change (French 1985)

After leaders show the differences after planned changes to the followers, the action plan could be applied to this framework. First, leaders need to unfreeze the current culture structure, enable the culture as a changeable status. Then it comes to the movement phase, acts from problem identification to diagnosis, and set action plan according to the situation. After the plans done, leaders have to lead the action plan to implementation, monitoring and assessment with the followers. Last but not least, to record every learning outcome from the changes, and transfer to the new organisational culture. The final phase would be refreezing the whole process again, in order to maintain the changed culture as a stable status for all stakeholders. Leaders should keep cautious about the situation within the organisation, and take advantage of this changing cycle according to modify the culture.

Leading Positive Changes

Kanter suggest easy six steps for future leaders to start influencing people with positive changes: show up, speak up, look up, team up, never give up, and lift others up (Kanter 2013). With the power of voice and higher volume of value, leadership to influence other would be no longer hallowing slogan to express. And with the team, members could support each other, not only led by leaders and wait for orders to follow. Therefore, leaders could lead positive changes in their team by in-depth communication, understanding, providing every possible support, and grow with the team.

 

References

Mullins, L.J., (2013) Management & Organisational Behaviour. UK: Pearson Education Limited

Kanter, R.M. (2013) Six Keys to Leading Positive Change [online] available from <http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Six-Keys-to-Leading-Positive-Ch;search%3Atag%3A%22tedxbeaconstreet%22> [28 March 2014]

Ideal leadership styles to ensure diverse team’s success

Leadership Style Construction

Foreword

Before the discussion of how leadership styles affect diverse team, again we should look into the difference between leading and managing your team members. Managers have the organisational objectives done through others’ efforts, which might come from the employees, partners, and other stakeholders. Therefore, as long as all the efforts could come up with the proper results, management function would be regarded as qualified and done. However, when it comes to leadership level, we have to consider wider than task-orientated management. It’s not only about complete missions, but also influence stakeholders. Once insightful leaders have influenced them, they would understand the why and how behind what they should done. This difference makes stakeholders more willing to dedicate efforts to the shared objectives, instead of routine tasks assigned by their line managers.

The differences between managing and leading show the importance of leadership styles and adjustment, which might bring massive influence to the diverse team performance and working environment. As we know, the diverse team members are coming from different backgrounds with various personal preferences and motivation. How could leaders make sure every each member in the team could really receive the consistent and accurate message, and aim to the same objective? Are there necessary adaptions leaders should take to enhance the influencing to their team members and stakeholders?

CMI suggested, “The best approach may vary according to circumstances and individual characteristics,” which brought the message to leaders and managers to focus more on internal issues, employees’ perception values (Chartered Management Institute 2013). It’s no longer we should only regard management and leadership as the control and command to the team, but as the influencing force to the team. As the influencing power, managers and leaders should take environment, individuals, and circumstance into consideration and use different type of leading.

Leadership style

Since we understand leadership is no longer personal power, but a collaboration system within complex business and people context, various leadership styles are introduced to help people to adjust their behaviour within the organisation and help followers to practice better.

As we take leaders’ behaviour within the organisation toward their followers, Lewin suggested three clear categories of them (Lewin 1939). There’s no right or wrong of each leadership style, it all depends on how the leaders adapt the style according to the situation, and take advantage of the process for best outcome (Mullins 2013).

  1. Authoritarian (or autocratic) style: High-demanding context between leaders and followers, that followers are forced and passive to take orders from leaders’ independently decision. It’s beneficial under urgent situation or expertise-leading context, but also limits the creativity and innovation through the process.
  1. Democratic style: As the most effective leadership, democratic leaders guide their members and engage them to the decision-making process, also dedicate their own efforts to the team (Lewin 1939). Therefore, the quality brought from these members is much higher, but facing the problem of lower productivity.
  1. Laissez-faire (genuine) style: High-freedom to the follower to make decision and implementation as their willing, which would encourage expertise to generate high-quality and innovative results. However, if the members couldn’t make commitment and consistent efforts as self-driven level, this leadership style usually turns out to be low productivity and motivation.

In another perspective of the readiness of followers that the leaders need to influence, Mullins had another model of situational leadership. In situational leadership, Mullins suggested leaders should also take followers’ willingness of fulfilling the task. Once their ability and willingness both reach the level of readiness, leaders would be possible to influence them toward the objectives and build positive relationship with the followers.

Situational Leadership Curve

(Mullins 2013)

As the figure shows four steps of the situation leadership process from S1 to S4, which indicate the increasing followers’ readiness and lower level of task and relationship behaviour. As Mullins mentioned, this framework regards followers from their ability and willingness. Leaders adapt into the situation and different phase of follower’s intention to the task, assist them according the readiness. This process is interconnected with the three leadership types: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire style; that means leadership depends on not only external environment (challenges, competitions, situations), but also followers’ personal status and intention to the objectives. It would be crucial for leaders to effectively lead the team by adapting between various styles dynamically.

Motivation

Apart from adapting different leadership styles, leaders also need to understand how to motivate diverse team. Members from different backgrounds might locate in different need level to meet, as Maslow’s Need hierarchy mentioned. And followers also are affected through Herzberg’s content theory to gain high motivation and job satisfaction. Leaders nowadays need to combine their resources to motivate followers as into self-mastery level, rather than rewarded them by financial bonus.

References

Mullins, L.J., (2013) Management & Organisational Behaviour. UK: Pearson Education Limited

Lewin, K., Lippit, R. and White, R.K. (1939). ‘Patterns of aggressive behavior in experimentally created social climates.’ Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 271-301

Leading Diverse Team

Leadership x Diversity

Introduction

Could diversity bring synergy, efficiency, and alternatives; or it would towards conflicts and chaos? As widely discussed, the business context is now multi-religion, multi-nation, and multi-culture. It has become a vital issue for all leaders to understand individual differences and how to collaborate and build up competences for challenges. Hence, first task for leaders would be investigating the pros and cons, and limitation of diversity team could achieve; then lead the team towards higher performance.

Pros and Benefits of diversity team

1. Innovation

To overall evaluate, teams’ performances depend on how members could dedicate their competences to the team for achieving objectives, and what elements could team members bring to the team. In comparison to ordinary team, diversity teams combine different mind-sets from multi-cultural context, which allow them to absorb new ideas and illustrate creativity.

2. Talents

Through accurately choice of diversity team members, leaders could have selected members with talents together for completing the objectives. This process helps organisations to generate task-orientation team with multi-cultural background, which could be more efficient and effective on achieving goals.

3. Multi-Cultural Context

While the companies aim to global business environment, diversity teams could lower the barrier with high adaption ability and background, which could help the organisation to fit in the emerging business environment more efficient. Diversity teams could also take advantages of various backgrounds to identify, anticipate, and satisfy customers’ requirements profitably better than ordinary teams (CIM 2014).

Cons and Limitations of Diversity Team

1. Conflicts between Teams and Members

The conflicts happened when individuals couldn’t build consensus and harmony, which might comes from their backgrounds, values, habit, and different education. The situation indicates how cultural differences could cause various state of mind in the workplace. The situation could apply to inter-team as well, possibly make cross-department task more complex. (Mullins 2013)

2. Workplace Cultural Dimensions Issues

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 16.30.30

(Hofstede 2014)

The six dimensions bring challenge to leaders to properly communicate messages or orders to team members, because they might decode the message through different mind. If misunderstanding and errors happened, the performance of diversity teams would become inefficient than other teams.

3. Ethical Arguments for Equality of Treatment

Though it has been widely emphasised of diversity teams’ advantage within the business environment, the companies should remain their attention on social responsibilities as well. Diversity teams should not only considerate performance, but also to cover social justice and responsibility for the stakeholders as well. (Mullins 2013)

Management Methods to Ensure Diversity Team could Achieve Collaboration

Mullins reproduced the concept map of diversity at work from The Virtual Learning Materials Workshop (2013), and showed the solution for managers and leaders to ensure diversity teams could work as expected high performance and not occurring inter-individual issues.

Ten practical ideas for managing Diversity

(Mullins 2013)

 Employers, manager, and leaders could follow these 10 ideas to observe the sign of potential conflicts and cultural adaption problems, and avoid it happened in advance. These efforts are crucial to keep diversity team performing efficient and innovative with its competences.

Skills to Improve Diversity Team’s Performance

As the main idea of taking advantage from the diversity teams, leaders should regard team-building skills as the priority to learn and develop. To succeed in building effective, harmony, and high-performance diversity team, there would be following skills for leaders to acquire and improve during their career.

1. Communication

Experienced communicator would make diversity team members from various background to receive the message accurately, and minimise the misunderstanding, which might cause problem between members and teams. To learn how to communicate across different culture and deliver message efficiently would be the first skill managers and leaders need.

2. Identifying Collaboration Patterns

As managers and leaders could communicate without barriers within the diversity team, the next skills required would be ensuring the co-working patterns in the multi cultural environment. It’s crucial to maximise team members’ potential by helping them contribute their competence as the proper role, which depends on the tasks and context.

3. Mission Allocation

As the managers and leaders, realising members’ competencies and limitations in the diversity team would be the last but not least skill for improving performance. With proper communication and positioning, the managers and leaders would be able to allocate responsibility and missions of organisation’s objective to the members according to their competences and background talents. Well-allocated members bring higher performance through non-conflict collaboration and non-barrier communication between peers, manager, leader, and cross teams.

 

References

CIM (2014) Glossary [online] available from < http://www.cim.co.uk/Resources/JargonBuster.aspx > [24th Feb. 2014]

Hofstede (2014) Dimensions [online] available from < http://geert-hofstede.com/dimensions.html > [24th Feb. 2014]

Mullins, L.J., (2013) Management & Organisational Behaviour. UK: Pearson Education Limited