In this episode, we tried something a little bit different. Lisette and I "hanged out" with Phil Montero from The Anywhere Office and talked about the role of the leader and the manager in virtual teams. Most of the conversation involved identifying what teams need to operate and whether it's always the responsibility of the person with the official title to provide this.
Virtual teams are turning organisations into flatter hierarchies and we need to consciously adapt our leadership style to what the team needs.
To listen to the podcast, press the PLAY button above. To watch the recording of the hangout, scroll to the bottom of this post.
04:40 Different virtual teams need different forms of leadership. The different types of relationships we have with our team. Lisette introduces the role of "wrangler" (as in person "rounding up", not disputing).
08:30 Does someone always need to be in charge? Someone needs to take care of the process - in this case the team leader or manager needs to take on the facilitator role. Or is it always the person with the official title, or the top of the organisation, that needs to look after the process, or to enable (or remind) the group that the process needs to be looked after?
13:30 An important part of the person in charge is to Ask Questions - of course, as in all teams, the person in charge should be asking questions. In the virtual setting, there is more autonomy and flexibility, so people might expect to be more involved in the decision-making. The importance of outlining the constraints.
16:00 The "boss" role. Someone is financially responsible for the outcome and will need to take the tough decisions and hold people accountable. Is it always the official leaders' responsibility to remind us of the constraints and rules? Balance between what's good for the individual and what's good for the team?
The new way of work has completely shifted and has a more network feel to it.
22:50 We need to be more "conscious communicators" and make sure the processes are in place for people to talk to each other. How can we create an environment where team members are able to have uncomfortable conversations? Creating feedback cycles for the team - this process can be decided by the team, not necessarily by the person in charge. But the team leader has to make sure this decision is taken and implemented.
31:00 Task, process and relational conflict can be avoided by continuously sharing information across the three domains. What about the co-ordinator role? A broker between people so that the relationships between the team members are happening?
33:00 What's the role of the team leader in solving conflict? We agreed that it's their role to make sure it's solved, but not necessarily to solve it.
40:15 Phil quotes Star Trek - the leader who has enough humility to ask those around him for their opinions. Collaboration vs Competition.
48:35 The relationship of the team with the wider context - be it the organisation or wider context? The role of the team leader as advocate, how do we strengthen the relationship of the team with the rest of the organisation?
Make sure that the conversations that need to happen, happen.
Let us know your thoughts about the role of the official leader or manager in a virtual team.