Virtual Teams. Crystal Clear Leadership.
How a crystal company turned to Ariel to improve remote collaboration and develop stronger leadership.
Recognized worldwide, a crystal company (denoted as CC) is an Austrian producer of luxury cut lead glass. The company is split into two major industry areas: the CC business unit, which primarily works with luxury items and fashion design crystals; and the CC business unit, which manufactures bonded abrasives as well as concrete sawing and drilling machinery.
Our contact oversees the largest business unit in the company, and is responsible for Product Design, Development, Marketing, Production, Supply & Logistics, and full profit/loss accountability.
Many of CC’s teams work remotely and can only meet face-to-face once a year. As a result, these teams work with virtual colleagues on a consistent basis to get tasks done. For example, our contact leads team consists of 8 people who were responsible for all the business functions: finance, sales, logistics, supply chain, product marketing etc. Their direct reports account for an additional 20 people. Together, they manage thousands of people virtually around the globe.
However, something was missing – a spark, the motivation to truly collaborate. When working with a virtual team, it’s easy to lose the human touch. Our contact wanted to bring that spark back for his team. Among other objectives, Our contact believed that casting a leadership shadow to ensure followership among the large employee population was critical to his team’s success. Specific goals included:
- To communicate effectively with virtual teammates
- To improve leaders’ presence and their ability to inspire, motivate, and engage their teams
- To cast a memorable, motivational leadership shadow that fosters followership
Based on prior, positive experience with The Ariel Group’s programs (he had previously attended Leading with Presence when he was at Procter & Gamble), our contact reached out to us to take part in the annual off-site meeting for his lead team and their direct reports.
Because of the diversity of the people in attendance and the fact they only meet in person once per year, our contact tasked The Ariel Group with having the team role play with various team members, rather than always staying with the same person. He further asked us to ensure all team members were mixed into the role-plays with colleagues regardless of title. We used our Large Group Program: Personal Presence to help the participants demonstrate confidence in their subject matter expertise and intellectual capacity.
“…[The Ariel Group’s] Leading With Presence was one of the best development courses I’ve taken in my career, so I knew they would be able to help us here.” – Client contact
Across the board, our contact’s team walked away from their annual off-site with a better appreciation for what it takes to truly collaborate remotely. Specific take-aways included:
- Learning and practicing the behavioral signals of executive presence
- Identifying specific aspects each team member brings to the table to help their credibility within the organization
- Learning how to be present to the needs of virtual team members – checking in with virtual coworkers, asking for their opinions, including specific team members by asking questions, etc.
- Practicing metaphors (a storytelling skill) for more powerful communication
The CC team made a commitment to put these new skills to use to get everyone on the same page, even when they’re not all in the same office.