The Rise of the Remote Workforce

remote-workforce-360x260We live in an emerging globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers. More than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in their traditional offices to work from home, coffee houses and just about anywhere in the world in which they can connect to the Internet. Leading the 21st century dispersed workforce brings its own challenges and requires new attitudes, approaches, and technologies. It requires leadership that is willing to step out of the comfort of the corner office and explore rich new possibilities of workforce engagement. It requires a higher degree of understanding communication, culture, collaboration, and empowerment.

“We live in a time of unprecedented globalism. Businesses, people, and economies are tied together in ways we could not have imagined 40 years ago. Organizations must now compete within a global landscape where clients and even the workforce are culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. Organizations are networked and interlaced around the globe through the Internet and mobile technologies. Crossing and operating within cultural boundaries must­­­ become a skill of the leaders and followers of the future. Organizations of the future must become culturally literate if they are to successfully compete under these emerging paradigms.” – Philip A Foster, The Open Organization, 2014

As we witness the emergence of a globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers, more than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in the traditional offices for the coffee house office or what I like to call the Coffice. A cloud based workforce is nothing more than a distributed or remote employee who is not bound by geography, time zone, or national boundaries. These employees are connected to colleagues via technology and therefore are able to work more flexibly via the internet.

Leader flexibility is the key to creating an atmosphere where each employee can become more excited about where they work and more importantly what they are working on. As the world becomes more globalized, the need for a flexible cloud optimized workforce is more evident. With a remote workforce comes the need to re-imagine and retool leadership for the remote worker. What is certain is that the way we approach and engage leaders and followers is quickly changing. There are challenges ahead as we assimilate into the new realities of a distributed cloud based workforce. Leading the charge for change is and will continue to be our Millennials. By the year 2025, it is estimated that nearly 75% of all work will be held by this generation. What is certain – change will happen whether we embrace it or not. As the 21st century organization continues to seek greater flexibility, organizational leadership must also evolve to the pressures and realities of a globalized economy.

While traditional leadership relies on formality, power, and proximity to followers; the Organization of the 21st century is emerging as a nontraditional structure in which authority is not vested in positions and human capital is dispersed geographically. Organizations will begin to abandon traditional leadership pedagogue for leaderless, self-led, and an empowered autonomous workforce. As hierarchies begin to collapse, leaders must learn to adapt to new realities and what it means to lead a more culturally diverse dispersed workforce from a distance.

As our reality shifts, leaders must learn how to communicate more effectively; engage human capital differently; embrace cultural nuances with diplomatic precision; and empower employees. The shift toward a dispersed workforce requires confidence and an abandonment of old models of employee engagement. The new way of working is not for everyone.  These changes will require discernment in the on-boarding process. Because Communication is so different in the dispersed setting, employees must leave ego behind and walk with assurance that they questions are important enough to ask.

Things are shifting – organizations are changing. Engagement of employees will change. We can either prepare for the inevitable or bury our heads in the depths of a 19th century hierarchical structure. In the end, you can change or you can become irrelevant. The choice is up to you.

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 Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia.

Twitter: @maximumchange, E-mail: philip@maximumchange.com.

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The Decay of American Sovereignty through Globalization

Globalization is the phenomenon that polarizes people, alters the fabric of our lives and creates rifts within and between people (Harf and Lombardi, 2009, p 258). Many in the West have embraced globalization and argue that it helps to streamline economic systems, disciplines labor and management, brings forth new technologies and ideas, and fuels economic growth (Harf and Lombardi, 2009, p 258). Yet, many poor and middle-class workers view globalization as an economic and cultural wave that will tear the fabric of their societies (Harf and Lomardi, 2009, p 258).

 

Beyond the cultural fissures, we must consider the impact of globalization on a country’s sovereignty. In fact, James M. Boyers (1998) states “Globalization ‘denotes a process of denationalization of clusters of political, economic, and social activities’” (p 583). While the U.S. Constitution serves as the foundation and source of legitimacy for the U.S. Government; globalizing forces will continue to require the United States to face new challenges and the Constitution will limit the means of meeting those challenges (Boyers, 1998, p 598).

 

Arguably, globalization creates pressures for greater inequality throughout the world and nowhere is this felt more than in the United States because our system fails to redistribute income effectively and allow the pressures of globalization to be fully realized (Massey, 2009, p 9). All countries compete in the same global economy and face the same market conditions, but the United States is unique among advanced nations in its ability to generate inequality (Massey, 2009, p 10). Massey (2009) argues that this “hyper-inequality emerged not through globalization, technological change, or market segmentation, but because of institutional arrangements specific to the United States that fail to redistribute income to the same extent as other industrial nations” (p 10). These institutional arrangements are rooted in the Constitution of the United States which in part establishes “Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty” to all Americans (U.S. Constitution). The Constitution solidifies the Declaration of Independence which promotes the ideal that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (The Declaration of Independence, 1776). Globalization appears to dictate, amongst other things, the edict of redistribution of wealth which is in stark contrast to our ideals of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. While Globalization is worthy of participation from an economic standard, the precedent set in changing laws to conform to international standards can threaten the very fabric of our Constitutional DNA and if not monitored could eventually unravel the very nature of what makes the United States so unique.

References:

Harf, James E. and Lombardi, Mark Owen (2010). Taking Sides. Clashing Views on Global Issues. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Boyers, James M (1998). “Globalization and the United States Constitution: How Much Can it Accommodate” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies. Volume 5, Issue 2, Article 11, pp 583-599.

Massey, Douglas S. (2009). “Globalization and Inequality: Explaining American Exceptionalism.” European Sociological Review. Volume 25, Number 1, 2009, p 9-23.

United States Government (n.d.) The Constitution of the United States. Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

United States Government (1776). The Declaration of Independence. Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Maximum Change, Inc. is a Leadership and Business Consulting firm located in Middle Tennessee offering business & leadership consulting, speaking and training. Philip Foster is a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization, Strategic Leadership, Planning and Strategic Foresight. Facilitating change through the design and implementation of strategies, strategic foresight and strategic planning

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Interpreting culture and its impact on conflict resolution

To interpret the culture and its impact on conflict we must begin to understand inquisitiveness is at the core of effective global leadership (Black, Morrison, & Gregersen, 1999, p 27). To best bridge the gap of conflict it becomes important to consider one’s own cultural literacy. We must start with our own core values and beliefs and then be able to clearly communicate them to our followers (Rosen, 2000, p191). Yet, understanding one’s own core values is only the start. We must understand the culture from which we operate. Literature argues that Westerners will often misinterpret cultural responses specifically in the area of cultural indirectness. Such indirectness, such as found in high-context polychronic cultures, is seen as “(1) lack of courage to confront the person, (2) unwillingness to deal with the issue, (3) lack of communication to solve the problem or (4) refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions” (Elmer, 1993, p 53).

Literature argues that personal transformation is needed in doing business across cultures (McCall & Hollenbeck, 2002, p 215). Stanford (2009) argues transformation begins with leaders who are able to manage their mindset as it relates to: themselves (the reflective mindset); organizations (the analytical mindset); context (the worldly mindset); relationships (the collaborative mindset); change (the action mindset) (p 225).

Conflicts are inevitable. Understanding conflicts are most likely to occur when a person or a group feels that their social, psychological, emotional, physical, or other space is threatened (Stanford, 2009, p 235). We must transcend our own cultural defaults and look beyond the horizon to other ways of thinking to begin to understand cultural conflicts. The application of adaptation and an ability to separate the person from the problem (Lanier, 2012) is essential to a leaders overall effectiveness in cross-cultural communication and conflict resolution.

References

Black, J. Stewart, Morrison, Allen J., and Gregersen, Hal B. (1999). Global Explorers. New York, NY: Routledge

Rosen Robert (2000). Global Literacies. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster

McCall, Morgan W. and Hollenbeck, George P. (2002). Developing Global Executives. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Stanford, Naomi (2009). Guide to Organisation Design. London, England: Profile Books, Ltd.

Lanier, John (2012). Retrieved from his posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Literacies of Global Leadership – The art of understanding and connecting

Having traveled a bit outside of the United States, there is some sense that cultural differences are challenge enough without having to lead an organization within them. Organizations must deal with worldviews that make assumptions of how things area rather than how they should be (Sire, 1997, p 16). Beyond worldviews; complexities in geographical terrain, language, laws, and customs should all be considered.

Understanding terrain aids in developing and looking for opportunities for the organization to develop relationships and pursue knowledge which can translate into an impact within the marketplace (Black, Morrison, and Gregersen, 1999, p 51). Considering the terrain of a country aids in managing high levels of uncertainty and balances tensions in the global marketplace (Black, et.al, 1999, p 87 and 95). Such tensions as customer demands, employee practices, government policies, production technologies, and competitor responses differ greatly between countries (Black, et.al, 1999, p 95-96).

Language, Customs, Values, Traditions and Laws are all part of what James Sires called cultural relativism. Cultural relativism relies on the ideal that culture will preserve itself when threatened (Sire, 1999, p 87). Cultural language barriers, for example, can severely restrict the ability to listen and effectively understand (Black et.al, 1999, p 119). Black et.al (1999) argues that any absence of cultural sensitivity will result in mistakes and may hinder emotional connection with those within the culture in which you operate (p. 120).

Understanding people within a given culture requires familiarity with local conditions (Black et.al, 1999, p 121). This understanding highlights the context from which people develop and express viewpoints and thereby improve the quality of decisions made (Black et.al, 1999, p 121-124).

Global leadership is a complex matter appearing vastly rooted in an ability of leaders to understand and connect with the culture and its people at a deeper level.

References:

Sire, James W. (1997). The Universe Next Door. Third Edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

Black, J.S., Morrison, A.J. and Gregersen, H.B. (1999). Global Explorers. The Next Generation of Leaders. New York, NY: Routledge.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667