With all the talk of bird flu, west nile and terrorism it may become necessary to have people work from home or a remote location other than work will they can't be supervided.
Following is a letter (introductory) I sent to my people who are located remotely around the country before our first face-to-face meeting.
One of my personal objectives that I set for myself each year is to continually improve on being the best Leader I can be for the people I serve. In order to do that, I need to define what Leadership means to me and then apply it in my every day work. In my opinion, the first priority of a new leader is bringing together or integrating his/her team. It must be cohesive and above all it must have an AIM! That is what I hope to start providing at our first meeting.
Over the past few years one of the areas of Leadership that I have concentrated on is what I call “Remote/Virtual Leadership”. That is, how do I lead a person or group when I can’t go out of my office, sit down and communicate face to face, and be sure that the message I am making or relaying is understood and vice versa. This is not a new area of leadership, but is one that has not received the proper attention or study that it deserves to fully support and provide to the folks who are remote, a feeling that they are part of a team, valued as a team member and secure as an individual. My goal for us is to be the model for others as to what it takes to be a Team that can continually move forward, in the same direction, knowing that each team member has the support and partnership of other team members, whether they sit next to you or not.
In order to do this I need to first explain and communicate my thoughts and then to gather theirs so they become one concise message that has an AIM (purpose).
I see my leadership role in three major areas:
1. Communicator (Directional)
2. Transformer (Interpersonal)
3. Performance Excellence (Implementational)
Communicator – Regardless of whether one is remote or in the same location it is essential that I provide clear and concise information. At the core of this is that I must be an even better listener. One of my old habits was that I listened to respond, instead of listened to understand. I now listen to understand, so at times I may be silent, trying to comprehend (quickly) what is being communicated, so that I may respond in the best interest of the group (whole), not just for myself or a particular individual. This is called “Systems Thinking” and I will provide more on this topic as we grow together as a team.
Following are some of the items you can expect from me through my modes of communication (Meetings, Email, Phone Calls, Support):
- Actively Listen
- Listen to understand and ask question if I don’t
- Connect/Align Values/Objectives/Goals
- Our work is important
- Provide my point of view, request your point of view
- Engage in honest dialogue
- Provide feedback in real time with real answers
- Build Cooperation and Trust
- Frequent Communication (sharing the big picture puts us all on same page)
- STS -->Shoot The Shit Meetings (one rule - no work talk allowed)
So this all sounds good, but you also have to work in an environment that allows open communication to take place. This happens by challenging people to do more and be more than what they believe they are, and it is also about knowing, when you are part of a team, that collectively we are much stronger and produce more than individuals. This is done through Transformation.
Transformer – This is where I need to provide an environment for us to excel, where we can have some fun, and if we make a mistake, we learn from it, share the knowledge and go forward. Where change, while often out of our control, is discussed, but more importantly where we as a team can control change and that we also try to control our own destiny.
What follows are some of the traits that I continuously work on to be a better leader (always looking for more suggestions). Improving my leadership skills means facing the inevitable discomfort of hearing both positive and negative feedback.
- Lead, Not Control
- Seek Profound Knowledge (System, Variation, Knowledge, Psychology)
- Seek constancy of purpose
- Seek constant improvement
- Take Risks ( if they go bad, protect your people)
- Be willing to experiment
- Embrace (not encourage) error or defects for learning when they happen
- Plan, Measure and respond/predict the future
- Make the hard decisions when required
- Welcome Change and be flexible
In today’s work environment and with the amount of different projects going on at the same time, it is critical that Team-Based/Project Management approaches be applied whenever possible. Many of us function daily at the very edge of our competence and too frequently find ourselves overcome with the complexity that surrounds us with so many changes happening at the same time. Being part of the End-To-End Process Team means being part of a genuine team, bringing with it the advantage of having other’s knowledge and experience readily available to assist when requested.
An effective leader must be able to lead people and “manage” the things, processes and business issues that compile each workday. It will be easier if we go on this journey together as opposed to going it alone.
Ok, I have written some nice words and made some lists, but how do we make sense of all this, how does it apply, and if someone asked you what type of Leadership do you receive or expect, you can inform them of what I commonly refer to as the 6 Es:
ENVISION – It is my job to relate/communicate to you the corporate, departmental, etc… objectives into a meaningful AIM or purpose for us to follow.
ENLIGHTEN (Pre-requisite to Enablement) – This is where we as a Team create an awareness, understanding and sense of urgency as to what is expected of us to meet the objectives.
EMPOWER (Pre-requisite to Encourage) – Based on previous EEEs, provide by which we are to operate with each function/process of our work.
EXECUTE (Pre-requisite to Empower) - Based on previous EEEEs, provide the methods and procedures (As developed by all stakeholders) by which we are to operate with each function/process of our work.
ENCOURAGE - Recognize and encourage behaviors for on-going improvements and culture change. Each of us has the responsibility to recognize and praise the good work done by others.
I encourage you to ask questions and provide suggestions at our meeting, or feel free to send me an Email and I will provide the answers at our meeting.