As more companies adopt remote work opportunities, business leaders need to adapt the way they manage their teams. Without the ability to meet face to face with employees, how do you build the necessary bonds to support your team members and unleash their full potential?
This can be especially difficult for leaders in creative industries. That’s why we need to develop creative leadership skills.
In this video, GLOBIS lecturer Darren Menabney introduces how to use a “culture map” (adopted from Erin Meyer’s book of the same name that introduces eight scales for understanding cultures) as a tool for breaking down personas on your team. He also talks about how to harness the creativity of remote workers and lead diverse teams more effectively.
Below is a transcript of his answers to the questions asked by Yasuyuki Kato, CSO and CFO of GLOBIS USA, during their dialogue session, edited for clarity. Watch the full video above for his keynote speech and audience Q&A.
How do we make diverse groups feel more inclusive while working remotely?
If you’re launching a virtual team or you already have one, building trust is vital. When you have trust, then you have psychological safety. And if you have psychological safety, you’re going to be able to harness the innovation.
[The culture map] is a very practical example. One of the frameworks is trust. Do you build trust through relationship building, getting to know the person individually, going out for coffee? Or do you build trust around the work? “I trust you because I know your professional background, your expertise”—there’s that scale.
Understanding how individuals and the team build trust using that kind of framework is very critical. That helps you make people feel safe and included.
I find this exercise of doing the culture map makes people feel more inclusive because they can see how they fit into the team. “Here’s how I’m reflective or different. Here’s how I’m the same as my colleagues.”
The team leader’s organizations have a requirement of course, to be inclusive. But often it falls to the team leader to really turn that into action.
How do we build trust in our teams when engaging in remote work?
There are two kinds of trust in a team: effective trust and emotional trust. And that often works better between team members or team leaders who hold similar positions.
And then there’s trust in the work. And that should come from the team leader to their team members. So if you are a team leader, the focus should be on showing trust in the people’s professionalism, in their skills, and being more hands off.
Amongst the team members, the balance of trust is formed by emotional bonds. If you lead and structure the team that way, you’re going to have a team that has more trust and is more inclusive, and therefore can harness that diversity.
How can leaders balance their team member’s needs for accountability and autonomy when their employees are working from home?
Menabney: This balance between accountability and autonomy, it often comes down to trust. One of the worst things we can do on any remote team is to be a micromanager.
You cannot [micromanage] your team because you cannot see the people all the time. So back to your question, it comes down to giving people trust.
If you have a high trust environment, then you as a leader can give your team members the autonomy to work a little bit more independently, but they have to give accountability back to you, as well: “I’m a team leader. I trust you to do the work, but you’re accountable for these deliverables by the due date.”
How can leaders foster the kind of environment that leads to a creative team?
Menabney: We want to have fun when we work, as well. So how do you balance the fun, the creativity with the team’s goals? Well, I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think you can do both by having a balance between autonomy, and accountability.
One way you can do that is by formalizing that balance into a team agreement. “We’re a remote team: here’s our vision, here’s our goals, here’s our deliverables. And here’s the way we’re going to work. Here’s how we’re going to build trust.” And everyone reads it and signs it.
That kind of contract on a virtual team allows you as a leader to show it to them later, trust them and say, “Hey, did you do this?” And have a conversation around [expectations].
How are creativity and innovation linked?
Menabney: There’s this big debate about if creativity is a process, an outcome, or a mindset. I think it’s all of the above. Innovation is definitely [tied to] the output and creativity, there’s lots of aspects to it.
There’s artistic creativity. But creativity is also creating a new mathematical theorem or creating a new business model.
There are lots of different aspects to creativity. So I think they’re not mutually exclusive. I think they’re both included in terms of creativity in a business context.
It doesn’t always have to be around business targets. It can be around how we work together as a team, for example, as well.
How are we going to approach this problem? How are we going to communicate as a team? There is also creativity in how the team collaborates or works together.
There are many different aspects to creativity, and they don’t all correspond to a number.