However new your organization is it will have automatically have a “culture” to some degree—this will largely be created by the mix of team members you have already assembled. From here there are two things that need to happen—first look at your team and decide what the core values of the culture are.
What is it you want to promote in your culture? What do you want to dissuade? There is no one right answer and despite changing trends and unfamiliar even unusual types of workplaces there is always a small contingent of people who like doing things the old-fashioned way.
It is important to find out what is important to your current team members and come to consensus on what kind of dynamic you want to create in your shared space and in the work you do together. Once you do that you should begin to look for new people to add to this team.
It should be clear that skill and ability are not the only factors to consider. If you are interviewing a potential new team member who seems pretty straight laced and traditional and you run the kind of organization that likes to take random dance breaks or have ping pong tournaments during work hours you might want to ask about them about the kind of organizational culture they feel they thrive under.
The new workplace is more fluid and job titles are becoming less important. Many of today’s employees seek interesting projects with meaningful problems to solve. They want meaningful work and not just titles.
One major change in organizations is that in these new types of project-oriented spaces, teams do more and more without first seeking approval from those who are above them. People in non-management positions are acting and thinking more like traditional leaders.
And in many organizations, this is exactly the kind of team member that is wanted. Those who are problem solvers that can work with varied peer groups, keep themselves organized and on task and move forward on their own with confidence. Essentially being their own boss.
So, if organizations are looking for this kind of team member and the traditional “nanny” type manager is no longer needed, what is the role of the leader in this new world?
Simply put, you should be there to share your experience. You are the extra cog, the extra ball bearing. A floater. Someone with confidence and experience who can transition from one part of a project to another to help where help is needed. Leaders are now the support staff—not to say you should be making copies and bringing some one coffee (though maybe sometimes that is the most useful thing you could be doing for your team), but you are there as the multi-tool.
Imagine being this kind of leader who trusts his team members to do their jobs and doesn’t “helicopter-parent” yet drops in on a parachute with a light touch and a wisdom based suggestion just when the team needs it.
One can read a hundred articles about the best leadership traits or ten mistakes new leaders make—and this is written with the irony understood that this is yet another article on leadership—and if one took notes they would probably find that there is, out there in the ether, generally accepted knowledge about leadership.
Think of leadership in terms of the order in which on takes college course work and earns a degree. As an underclassman many of the classes one takes, the 101s, cover the history and best practices of the subject matter. Students memorize pertinent facts and theories and get to practice them on a small scale. As an upperclassman, students begin debating and testing theories, the projects include real-world application. Grades are based more on how you use what you know than what you know. You start build wisdom, not just knowledge.
As we know wisdom comes from experience. Talk to other leaders, share your experiences. Ask each other how you have put knowledge into practice and what were the outcomes? While anecdotal evidence doesn’t make for the most scientific data, discussion and sharing lets us share wisdom, which in the world of leadership is probably more valuable than another article which sites several studies that conclude praise is most appreciated on Tuesdays after lunch time.
Once you have become a student of the knowledge of leadership, the next step is to share wisdom (experience) among your peers and learn from each other.