Leading teams in different types of organisational structures is a key leadership skill. Different types of organisational structures can significantly impact how teams are led and managed and the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of team members. To be effective in leading teams in different types of organisational structures, leaders must understand the characteristics and implications of each type of structure and adapt their leadership style and approach to each type of structure’s specific needs and challenges.
Leading Remote and Virtual Teams
Remote and virtual leadership refers to leading a team of employees not located in the same physical space. This can be challenging, as it requires different techniques and strategies to effectively manage and motivate team members.
- Effective recruitment: One fundamental principle of remote and virtual leadership is effective team recruitment. This involves identifying and hiring employees who are well-suited to working remotely and have the skills, experience, and motivation to be successful in a virtual work environment.
- Shared understanding: Another essential principle is facilitating shared understanding and a common purpose. This involves communicating the goals and objectives of the team, as well as the individual roles and responsibilities of team members, to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals.
- Communication strategy: A strong communication strategy is also essential for remote and virtual leadership. This involves using various communication tools and channels, such as email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and virtual meetings, to keep team members informed and engaged and to facilitate collaboration and decision-making.
- Clear goals: Setting clear goals is another essential practice of remote and virtual leadership. This involves defining specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for the team and providing regular feedback and support to help team members stay on track and achieve their goals.
- Defining roles: Another practice of remote and virtual leadership is defining roles and responsibilities clearly. This involves ensuring that each team member understands their tasks and how they fit into the team’s broader goals and providing support and guidance to help team members perform their duties effectively.
- Technical support: Good technical support is critical for successful remote and virtual leadership. This involves providing team members with the tools and technology they need to work effectively, such as reliable internet access, collaboration software, and virtual meeting platforms.
- Positive work culture: Remote and virtual leadership must develop a positive culture. This involves fostering a sense of community, collaboration, and engagement among team members and providing opportunities for team members to connect and socialise virtually to build solid relationships and a positive work environment.
Leading teams in a matrix structure
A matrix structure is a type of organisational structure in which employees are grouped not only by the functional department but also by project or product. This creates a grid-like structure in which employees have dual reporting relationships – they report to both a functional manager and a project manager.
The matrix structure combines the advantages of functional and divisional structures by providing both specialisation and coordination. In a functional structure, employees are grouped by their area of expertise, which allows for greater efficiency and discipline. In a divisional structure, employees are grouped by product or project, which allows for better coordination and integration of resources. The matrix structure combines these two approaches, allowing for specialisation and coordination within the organisation.
Matrix structures are often used in organisations that operate in complex and dynamic environments, where there is a need for both functional expertise and coordination across projects or products. Examples of organisations that may use a matrix structure include consulting, engineering, and technology companies.
Effective leadership of teams in a matrix structure involves several key practices, including clear communication with team members and other leaders involved in the matrix structure, clarity on who has authority to make final decisions, prompt identification and resolution of conflicting priorities, and clarity on who is responsible for performance evaluation and professional development of team members.
- Clear communication: Clear communication with team members and other leaders involved in the matrix structure is essential for ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. This involves using various communication tools and channels, such as email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and virtual meetings, to keep team members informed and engaged and to facilitate collaboration and decision-making.
- Authority: Clarity on who has the authority to make final decisions is also important in a matrix structure. This involves establishing clear lines of authority and decision-making processes and ensuring that team members understand who has the final say on key issues and decisions.
- Resolution of conflict: Prompt identification and resolution of conflicting priorities are also essential for the effective leadership of teams in a matrix structure. This involves regular monitoring and reviewing the priorities of different teams and individuals and identifying and addressing any conflicts or competing priorities in a timely and effective manner.
- Performance evaluation: Clarity on who is responsible for performance evaluation and professional development of team members is critical for ensuring that team members are supported and developed in their roles. This involves assigning specific individuals or teams to be responsible for evaluating the performance of team members and providing feedback and support to help them improve and grow in their careers.
Leading teams in a flat structure
A flat organisational structure is a type of organisational structure that has few or no layers of management or hierarchy. This means there are relatively small levels between the top leadership and the front-line employees.
In a flat structure, there is often more collaboration and teamwork among employees, as there are fewer layers of management and hierarchy to navigate. Flat structures are often seen as more agile and flexible, as they can make decisions and respond to changes more quickly. However, they can also be more chaotic and unpredictable, as there is often less oversight and guidance from management.
Flat structures are often used in smaller organisations or startups, allowing for more agile decision-making and greater empowerment of front-line employees. However, they can also be found in larger organisations, particularly those seeking to be more agile and responsive to change.
Leading a team in a flat organisational structure can be challenging, as there is often less hierarchy and more collaboration and teamwork. Here are a few tips for leading a team in a flat structure:
- Emphasise teamwork and collaboration: In a flat structure, fostering collaboration and teamwork among your team members is important. Encourage open communication and team members to work together to achieve shared goals.
- Delegate responsibilities: In a flat structure, delegating responsibilities is important and empowering team members to take ownership of their work. This will help to build their skills and confidence and will also help to free up their time to focus on other tasks.
- Foster open communication: In a flat structure, it is important to encourage open and transparent communication among team members. This can help build trust and ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Manage conflicts: In a flat structure, conflicts are likely to arise as team members work closely together. It is important to address conflicts constructively and positively and to encourage team members to find resolutions that work for everyone.
- Stay flexible: In a flat structure, things can change quickly, and it is important to stay flexible and adaptable. Be willing to adjust your plans and strategies as needed, and be open to new ideas and approaches.
Leading teams in a hierarchical structure
A hierarchical structure, also known as a pyramid structure, is a traditional organisational structure in which authority and power are clearly defined and concentrated at the organisation’s top. This type of structure is characterised by a clear chain of command, with decisions being made at the top and passed down through the different levels of the organisation. This structure is often used in large organisations with a formalised decision-making process.
In a hierarchical structure, the leader’s role is to set goals and objectives, make important decisions, and provide direction and guidance to the team. Here are a few specific strategies that leaders in a hierarchical structure can use to lead their teams effectively:
- Establish clear roles and responsibilities: It is important for leaders in a hierarchical structure to clearly define each team member’s roles and responsibilities and ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them. This will help prevent confusion and misunderstandings and enable team members to focus on their tasks and contribute effectively to the team.
- Communicate effectively: Leaders in a hierarchical structure should make an effort to communicate clearly and regularly with their team members and to keep them informed about important developments and changes within the organisation. This will help build trust and respect and enable team members to feel more connected to the organisation and its goals.
- Set clear goals and objectives: Leaders in a hierarchical structure should set clear goals and objectives for their team and provide regular feedback and support to help team members achieve those goals. This will help keep the team motivated and focused and enable the team to progress and achieve success.
- Foster collaboration and teamwork: While a clear chain of command characterises a hierarchical structure, it is still important for leaders to encourage collaboration and teamwork within the team. This will help create a positive and supportive work environment and enable team members to share knowledge and skills and work together more effectively.
- Provide leadership and guidance: Finally, leaders in a hierarchical structure should provide leadership and guidance to their team and should be available to offer support and assistance when needed. This will help develop team members’ skills and capabilities and enable them to grow and succeed within the organisation.
Leading teams in a network structure
A network structure is an organisational structure in which the company relies on external partners or contractors to perform certain functions or activities. This structure is characterised by a high degree of flexibility and a focus on building relationships with external partners. Network structures are often used in companies that operate in fast-changing or highly competitive industries.
In a network organisational structure, the leader’s role is to coordinate and manage relationships with external partners and contractors and to ensure that the company can access the resources and expertise it needs to achieve its goals. Here are a few specific strategies that leaders in a network organisational structure can use to lead their teams effectively:
- Build and maintain strong relationships with external partners: Leaders need to build and maintain strong relationships with external partners and contractors in a network organisational structure. This may involve negotiating contracts, establishing clear lines of communication, and building trust and respect.
- Manage and coordinate the work of external partners: Leaders in a network organisational structure should be skilled at managing and coordinating the work of external partners and contractors and should be able to communicate expectations and requirements effectively. This may involve setting deadlines, establishing clear roles and responsibilities, and providing feedback and support as needed.
- Foster collaboration and teamwork: Leaders need to encourage collaboration and teamwork within the team and with external partners in a network organisational structure. This will help create a positive and supportive work environment and enable team members to share knowledge and skills and work together more effectively.
- Monitor and evaluate the performance of external partners: Leaders in a network organisational structure should be able to monitor and evaluate the performance of external partners and contractors and should be prepared to make adjustments or changes as needed to ensure that the company is meeting its goals and objectives.
- Be flexible and adaptable: Finally, leaders in a network organisational structure should be flexible and adaptable and prepared for change and uncertainty. This may involve being open to new ideas and approaches and responding quickly and effectively to changing circumstances.
Compared to other types of organisational structures, such as matrix, hierarchical, or flat structures, a network organisational structure is characterised by a high degree of flexibility and a focus on building relationships with external partners. Leaders in a network organisational structure must be skilled at managing and coordinating these relationships to be effective.