By Kevin Eikenberry, co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute.

With all due respect to Mr. Bearss, I’m not sure I agree with that quote 100% (more on that later). That said, it is well worth thinking about, especially given your status as a leader of at least some remote employees. Last week we talked about how critical it is for leaders of virtual, remote and hybrid teams to become more decisive because you won’t always have the benefit of taking a vote or gaining consensus. And quite frankly some decisions don’t affect all employees.

As Mr. Bearss suggest (at least it’s my interpretation of it), you should conduct your research and speak to the people with insight or who will be affected by a decision. That said, ultimately, you are the one that needs to make the final call. If you are thorough in the research and listening aspects, you can feel more confident about the decisions you do make. So I ask you, when faced with a big decision:

  • How much information do you collect? Do you reach out to everyone, especially those people in remote locations, or do you tend to talk to a few people who you feel are in the know? It’s all too easy to avoid people you don’t see everyday and rely on those who are located in the same building as you, but your remote employees have valuable experiences and expertise that you can use. Besides, if you leave them out of the loop on everything, you’ll alienate them.
  • Are you consistently scouring new info? Do you make it a point to conduct regular conversations with all your staff and other departments to ensure that you can head off issues before they become problems? Or do you wait until you need information to make a decision or deal with a problem?
  • Do you listen to others before making decisions? By that, I mean, do you listen to everyone’s perspectives and ideas and take those into account? Or do you look only for information that supports your agenda and beliefs?

Our employees want leaders who are decisive, but they also want us to include them in decision-making, at a minimum, by asking for their opinion. As Bearss says, you should be collecting information as widely and as regularly as possible. You should be asking for everyone’s opinion, because that information can provide new perspectives that create opportunities for your team.

I fully agree with Mr. Bearrs on that part. The “decide by themselves” part? I don’t think that is always right (again, all due respect).

Depending on the scope of the decision and the time available to make the decision, you might want to engage others beyond just their opinion to include them in the decision-making process itself. Yes, you might, in the end, make the final call, but when possible, include your team not just in data collection, but in the decision-making process, too. When I say include your team, I mean include everyone that will be affected, no matter how insignificantly, and everyone who has some knowledge or input to offer.

I’m curious: What is your process for group decision-making with your virtual team? Please share your tips in the comments section. 

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