I got an email this week from a project element leader stationed overseas that provided the performance results. It was the third month in a row performance was below plan and the three month trend was negative. The note came with a simple “here are the results.” No explanation of why or what was going to be done to put the project on track.
Remember James Bartholomew Olsen (Jimmy Olsen) from the Superman TV shows and movies? Do you know the difference between Jimmy Olsen and Superman? It is simple – Jimmy Olsen reports history and Superman changes it! Olsen sees a situation, collects information and runs back to tell “the Chief” (the newspaper editor). Superman sees a situation, assesses it and takes action to change the outcome. If leadership is really a verb, then leadership is action and not a report. This lesson is especially important to leaders located in geographically dispersed places (virtual leaders). It is hard to see the leadership action of a teammate 9,000 miles away. People only see the action implied in the communications they provide. So, the next time you are providing an update to the project you are leading, consider the message you are sending.
How do you demonstrate action in the remote communications you provide? Have you considered methods to improve them?