Tight and Loose Cultures: Learn the Best Way to Run Your Online Community, Business Community or Personal Community

By Greg Audino

Whether you’re a parent, a boss, an influencer, or anyone else who others look to for guidance, building good leadership skills is really helpful. But we might not always know what our communities need or want.

Let’s look quickly at how doctor of cross-cultural psychology Michele Gelfand labels cultures as either tight or loose.

Tight Culture:

  • More rules, restrictions, and order
  • Great for overcoming obstacles, achieving goals, and handling threats
  • Struggles with freedom, individuality, and spontaneity

Loose Culture:

  • Less rules, restrictions and order
  • Great for freedom, individuality, and spontaneity
  • Struggles with overcoming obstacles, achieving goals, and handling threats

Find Out What’s Best For Your Community

While being too extreme in either direction will cause failure, communities still need to be led in one way or another, both long-term and based on each situation.

To know which way you should lean as a leader, ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish and what your community needs.

If You and Your Community…

  • are mostly about fun and togetherness
  • value freedom and expression above all else
  • are not working on a specific goal right now
  • do not want to change or improve
  • love being present and not having a plan

Then a loose culture is for you. There are always exceptions, but more often than not, try to avoid tight schedules and guidelines. Let everyone have a say in potential changes and keep everything slow and free-flowing so group members feel less controlled and free to be themselves.

If You and Your Community…

  • have a goal to accomplish
  • feel threatened or unfulfilled if that goal is not accomplished
  • enjoy structure and planning
  • like knowing that everyone is working to play their part
  • that more restrictions and sacrifices bring better results

Then a tight culture is for you. Again, with some exceptions, bring order to your community. Give them lessons, schedules, concrete targets to hit, and make sure everyone is holding one another accountable. Don’t be afraid to take over and make decisions for everyone in important situations.

One Thing to Always Remember

This isn’t black and white. A loose culture will need to become tighter if members have spoiled themselves too much and have no foundation. A tight culture will need to become looser if members feel they have no say in anything and have lost their individuality or fun.

As a leader, always check in and reconsider the direction that your community is going in. Where and when can you tighten or loosen? It’s a daily grind, but you’ve got this, and you wouldn’t be where you are if you couldn’t handle it!

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