In the first of three posts about The Global Leadership Team, we talked about the importance of cultivating the team with agile leaders. In this post we'll focus on the importance of creating the cultural building blocks.

Intentionally Creating the Team's Cultural Building Blocks

In our work with senior leadership teams, we typically start by helping the team put in place what we call the Cultural Building Blocks. These are the foundational components that enable a team to be successful - regardless of whether team members are co-located or global.

  • Build Block 1 is to define the team's purpose. Purpose drives everything, and you can often spot a global leadership team that isn't clear about its purpose because they do what I call "the round robin" in their weekly staff meetings - where each team member shares what they did last week and what's coming up in the following week, and no one else, except the President, really cares.
  • Building Block 2 is to define the communication strategy that will drive the team's purpose. This often requires a leadership team to get out of their day-to-day orientation and spend a larger portion of their time collectively focused on long-term strategy and planning. The communication strategy on a global leadership team gets more complicated as team members span multiple time zones. A combination of using various communication technologies, such as email, webinars, Skype, etc., and sharing the burden of meeting at odd hours can help overcome those differences.
  • Building Block 3 is to create shared norms across the team. Norms will happen regardless of whether they are intentional or not. On a global leadership team, these norms are the key to bridging different culturally acceptable ways of working.
  • Building Block 4 is to ensure the team is aligned around a small set of collective goals. The challenge is that on many leadership teams, individual leaders are rewarded based on their business unit or functional area, and, as a result, often compete for resources instead of allocating resources to the area that needs them most. Having clarity about the most important objectives and goals for the organization will help keep team members focused on the right things.

The building blocks aren't complicated. They are, however, often messy to establish.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series to learn about the last component needed for global leadership team success.

Tags: 
geographically dispersed teams, global leadership teams, leadership teams, virtual teams

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