You depend on your team, and they depend on you. Here’s how to take shared responsibility in a remote environment for the next level of excellence.

No matter whether your team is on the other end of town, on the second floor or half way across the globe. Out of sight can quickly become out of mind. Here are 3 steps to follow that will help you keep your people on their toes and you alert and present, even (and especially) when you are leading remotely.

Step 1 –The Best Way to Run your Business Remotely

More than any other kind of organization, running the business in a remote environment means keeping a sharp focus on the strategy, keeping an eye on the ball and keeping clear and “top of mind” what the organization wants to achieve and how it will be accomplished, encompassing:

  1. Our Business (Vision, Mission and Value Proposition)
  2. Our Customers’ Business (Vision, Mission and Value Proposition)
  3. End User Needs (our customers’ customers meaning and purpose for requesting customer products and services).

Be Clear on “Why” and Put Measurements in Place to Monitor “What” and “How”

In -long distance leadership, it is crucial to keep the “why” very clear every day to secure what we are doing and how we are doing it.

When you as a leader want to secure responsibility and ownership among your valued and trusted employees and colleagues, it is important that you take the lead in showing the way, securing the means for execution, and keep aligning priorities with strategy in order to do “the right thing” while you “get things done”. Your job is to make your people and team feel like you are present and visible, even though you may be physically located half way around the globe.

This means putting in place performance measures that develop people, develop business, retain and win market share, and innovate the business in real time. In other words, you need to have the tools in place to monitor what is being done at all times to navigate the business, and to monitor how well your team is running the business according to your established strategies and target goals.

Questions for Reflection

“How are you measuring performance in your long distance leadership plan?”
“What are you measuring?”
“What organizational goals and strategies are being measured?”

Communication is Key

Communication from the board of directors is crucial. As much as public companies regularly issue statements and information to their shareholders in order to keep them up to date with performance and share value, it is as -important to treat your employees like value shareholders, and communicate with them in a likely manner.

Communications should include current information about a situation, progress in regard to key figures and targets, market positioning, product launches and any other important developments as they occur. Middle management and line officers need to be informed in order to communicate strategy and other crucial information to the operational level. If you don’t where you are and where you are going…then you will soon be lost.

Questions for Reflection

“How are you ensuring that information is reaching your remote and virtual teams timely and correctly?”
“What would be a good timetable for keeping your colleagues and staff up to date?”

As a long distance leader, you need to secure momentum of and rapid information for your remote teams, clusters and hubs in order to navigate, stay the course, and have the best communication platform in place for optimal performance across the organization.

Know your Market

You need business intelligence from your front line people, so you can provide accurate feedback to your board of directors about advances in the market, positioning and any adjustments needed to stay competitive. So, just as your people need information from you and the organization, you need a method of gathering information from your front line:

  1. in the market place – concerning product availability; push/pull customer trends; and those oh-so-critical primary and potential competitors that can surprise us if we forget to be alert and on our toes.
  2. on how you as a company define and refine your positioning – (i.e., implement benchmarking) including:
    • Brand awareness – how well the marketplace knows your company’s name
    • Product awareness and penetration – Does the consumer or customer know your products and service? And what is your market share?
    • Pricing and value contribution – is it balanced, and what value-added capabilities can your organization bring to enhance your visibility in your product among your category?

This kind of information should come from a week-to-week-intelligence report from your remote team. When you are kept apprised of what’s going on on a regular and timely basis, you can much better serve the team though your informed leadership.

Questions for reflection

“What have you put in place in order to receive accurate, timely and relevant business intelligence from your remote market?”
“What procedures are in place to help your team be on top of your brand awareness and business positioning?”

The Importance of Team Involvement and Engagement for Business Performance

They are your eyes! – You want them to be:

  • Curious
  • Aware
  • Alert
  • Observant

They are your ears! – You want them to:

  • Listen
  • Pay attention
  • Discern – what information is the most useful

They are your on-location representatives in the market – You want them to:

  • Bring forward their ideas for adjustments and changes
  • Help create advantages through changes in:
    • Behavior
    • Actions
    • Routines and habits
    • Culture in the team or local organization
  • Offer ideas for business and product development
  • Support excellence in customer service – what you promise vs. what you deliver
  • Communicate the resources they need to meet the reality of ongoing challenges

Questions for Reflection

“How do you engage your team today?”
“What are your priorities for getting as much of your team’s expertise and competence into your decision making, encompassing virtually all aspects of the operation, such as local value propositions, end-user needs, product and service features and benefits, product sustainability, and best-in-class status?
“How do you monitor the local market and region in which you are doing business?”
“What are you doing to ensure understanding of the areas in which you are doing business (Culture, History, Market etc.)?”

Tools to Consider

Of course you can integrate some of well-known MBA models, such as:

  • SWOT Analyses (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
  • Product Life Cycles
  • Boston Matrix Models
  • Business Model Canvases

These work as tools to catalyze reflection, brainstorming, innovation and creative thinking. You can combine any of them with LEGO Serious Play, Graphical Facilitation, Game Boarding among others.

Questions for Reflection

“Which tools or models do you use to process your business strategy and model?”
“In what way do you elicit the most valuable information, insights, perspectives and recommendations from your colleagues and team?”

Next week you can read Step 2 in the series “3 Steps to Make Long Distance Leadership Work For You”. The upcoming post explores the best way to lead from a distance. Stay tuned!

About Christian Dinesen

Christian-DinesenChristian Dinesen is a Performance Trainer and Head of Institute at The Danish Institute of Coaching. He brings you an extensive experience and passion in developing and strengthening Performance Leadership and Operational Excellence in international environments.

Christian will lead the Long Distance Leadership Training in Basel – March 4th and 5th. This practical workshop will bring insight, consciousness and leadership tools for personal development, distance leadership and effectively running business on remote locations.