Mixing face-to face engagement and distant monitoring has become a reality for Managers. Access this guide to get best practices and tips for managing remote workers.

We have suddenly and unwittingly entered a future world of work.

The Covid-19 situation rimes with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), forcing us to work differently, and forcing many managers to lead remote teams.

In his series of science fiction renowned novels “Foundation”, started back in 1951, Isaac Asimov anticipated human beings disseminated in the entire galaxy, spread on millions of planets. Because of distance and to avoid contamination, humans had limited face-to-face interactions and preferred virtual communications using screens. When they had to meet, social distancing was a must…

Does this sound like a “déjà vu”?

This new routine implies adjusting management methods .

We could benefit from tips shared by professionals who have led remote teams for many years. Please find hereafter what they recommend to remove barriers of distancing and isolation . The need to knows they share are inspiring and insightful.

Kamal UBAYSI is Global Head of Commercial Partnerships – Revenue Growth at Sanofi (www.sanofi.fr/fr). Kamal travels regularly on all continents and is familiar with this management mode. According to him, involvement is key, especially to manage the relationshipp . A second essential driver consists in creating a communication routine. “With remote work, we run the risk of rifts between members of the same organization, which should not be denied nor minimized. It is therefore important to establish and maintain team rituals with or without the manager. »

Caroline HERNU is Head of Strategy at Macopharma (www.macopharma.com/en. As such, Caroline interacts with people based in different parts of the world. First and foremost trust, clear and explicit split of roles, responsibilities and tasks are a must. “It is impossible to manage remote teams without trust. This necessity must be clearly stated. We must avoid micro-management because it destroys trust. »

Xavier AUBERT is Chief Operating Officer for Nicols International Group (www.nicols.fr/). Xavier explains that managing remote teams is a continuous learning experience: each manager must adjust techniques depending on the situation and challenges teams face. “When I joined Nicols, I had limited experience of leading distant teams. I had to adjust and learn how to work with my employees from different cultures and countries across Europe. I believe managing remote teams requires to consider the unicity of each individual. Being supportive, not intrusive pays off being flexible results in higher accountability and engagement among the team. Managing remote employees requires to rethink relationships. »

Sharen STANBRIDGE is Board Member at Minitab (www.minitab.com/). Sharen reveals that Blended Management is a great solution. Not all can be done remotely. When the situation allows, face-to-face interactions help tremendously. “If you can’t be around, you have to add video calls from time to time to phone and written interactions to capture non-verbal expressions. It is also important to bring the team together in order to keep the spirit of the group. Of course, this is on top of the individual “one-on-one” meetings where sharing both personal and professional experiences is beneficial because human beings also need non-formal relationships. »

Philippe BENQUET is the President of the Acorus Group (www.groupe-acorus.fr). Philippe mentions how important it is to speak on a weekly basis with direct reports and to have regular get together with all employees. “I convened a daily crisis committee during the first weeks of lockdown. Today we reverted back to our our usual (now remote) weekly meetings and added a rather unformal meeting, without an agenda. I also schedule regular “one-on-one” touch points. Business unit managers act the same with their teams. As far as I am concerned, I also record a video broadcasted to all employees at least once a week, which is very much appreciated.”

According to these team leaders who experienced managing remote workers, the results are really positive:


One to one remote1. Personalize the relationship to create trust.

A pitfall to avoid when managing a remote team is not taking the time for the socialization between colleagues that would naturally happen if the teams were located in the same place. Limiting interactions to emails sent to teams with a list of tasks and deadlines is a high risk when working in isolation in front of the computer. Maintaining personalized relationships is essential to create and maintain a strong human bond: beware of limiting exchanges to electronic messages stored in our mailboxes. Making the time is a real investment in the development of the human relationship. Cross-personal exchanges by phone or ideally video calls are preferable and, of course, one must take advantage of all opportunities for sharing face-to-face, even virtually if remote. It is also an opportunity to check the “temperature”. During these recurring touch points, we advise you remember the previous conversation and pursue it. It is important to ensure continuity in one-on-one communications. These key moments help to create a strong personal relationship and trust, beyond group meetings and exchanging daily.

2. Clarify responsibilities and expectations and remind the requirements.

The aim is to define the boundaries of each person’s role and responsibility, to clarify the manager’s expectations and the employee’s needs  with a goal to meet the objectives and deadlines. Each person must be made aware of their role, their objectives, responsibilities and task scope.

A critical check when managing workers remotely consists in a tailored efficient follow-up. This close monitoring is obvious for any  relationship between a manager and their reports, it is extremely important when one-on-one face-to-face personal sharing is limited. For example, it is useful to run interviews every week face-to-face: the idea is not to take the to-do list and systematically check completed tasks and tasks still due, but to review the progress of projects with more of fewer details depending on the autonomy of the team member. Building a roadmap is essential. The manager must put in place appropriate reporting tools that will facilitate the best possible alignment.

Secondly,  avoid micro-managing: “I was connected at 9am and I realised you were not yet available on Skype, how come…?” Managers should not be frustrated if they are not able to communicate instantly with a team member.  Everyone has the right to take a break, disconnect from their laptop and are encouraged to exercise regularly. At the opposite, a manager should be involved and connected, avoid such reactions as: “I trust you, you know your goal so act on it… you don’t need me; we’ll connect next month… ».

Last but not least, when managing remote teams, you need a combination of control, monitoring progress made ; trust, showing you are confident in your reports ‘ competencies and support, letting your reports you can help them to achieve their goals. . Managers stay tuned, and are demanding. You have to be able to re-align when work goes off tracks. Remote work, though more flexible, does not justify delay or overflow on projects.

3. Communicate in a clear, concise, effective and positive way.

Working remote, it is extremely difficult to identify the discrepancies that may exist between what you intend to say and what is perceived. It is therefore necessary to constantly check that your audience understood what you meant. Distance blurs the signals and reduces the echo, messages do not always come through. All messages have to be as simple and straightforward as possible (reword and rephrase your key message to amplify and clarify it) to avoid misunderstandings. The manager must express ideas using words teams would speak. Managers need to ask team members to state what they understood and how it applies to them. Unless conveyed with non-verbal communication and should not be considered as full acceptance from the employee, by the Manager. You also have to provide feedback and praise when something is right (please remember to give some recognition to the one person who feels lonely or isolated), and to redirect praising when appropriate. The team must also find solutions to problems (positive attitude), not only list problems (vicious circle of negativity). Another important attitude is to define precisely the purpose of each meeting. Working remotely, one may be tempted or enclined not to set clear objectives for a meeting. Being very specific about the expected deadlines/responsibilities of each person at the meeting is actually fundamental.

home office4. Adjusting to new distant working conditions

Technology and quality of signal, homeworking (with family constraints – children / mate /parents / pets …) must be taken into account. We must accept that “90% of something is better than 110% of nothing” …

It is also important to ensure that all factors that drive success for communication are in place and are appropriate for stakeholders: background, frequency, timing in the working hours, and content. It is also important to take into account employees’s constraints and limitations (different time zone, personal obligations…) and to include them in the company operations. Thus meetings in the morning CET are at 3am EDT in Montreal, meetings early afternoon CET are actually occurring at midnight AET in Auckland … Try to avoid scheduling series of meetings outside of normal working hours for participants.  Which means that managers often have to talk to people very early in the morning and very late at night on the top of a full day’s job.  Such regular meetings are important for engaging the troops and also for maintaining a close interaction with teams, and effectively limits the number of emails already astronomical.  There is obviously a risk of exhaustion and burnout, hence managers need to make sure they manage their time responsibly and take care of themselves.

Another point is proactiveness with unexpected formats for gatherings to initiate what could actually happen in the company restaurant: eg. “virtual breakfasts” that allow you to spend 20 minutes with the team or one-on-one meetings with individuals who are new to you (to discover other business units or departments, and have the opportunity to explore). It also enhances teams/individuals who feel the company and the manager actually care.

5. Creating routines in communications

Managers should set up regular one-on-one meetings and encourage isolated employees to make some time to connect with their colleagues on a regular basis, just as they would make the time if they had coffee at the office. To ensure a trustful relationship when working remotely, it is necessary to agree routines with the person you want to address. Always start with personal matters rather than work-related topics, remember how we interact in coffee breaks when we share the same workspace.

Determining regular placeholders can and should also be decided for and with the team. Managers should be encouraged to set up and hold frequent meetings with their team members (ideally weekly, with mandatory participation) for alignment and harmony. The will then ensure each and every one can talk openly with a similar time slot to express what they want to say. Launching team projects impacting the  group can also help to create a positive atmosphere.  You can organize virtual coffee breaks 20 minutes every 3 days to check how everyone feels, talk about the weather if necessary, provide some general information about the company. Setting up daily and weekly routines helps during lockdown: managers sometimes even feel closer to their teams than before (because the exchanges are more personal, more human, as they see workers at home, sometimes with their pets, their kids…). These routines create new, stronger bonds.

6. Be transparent and ensure that information is passed on

Managing remote teams also requires a great deal of discipline in collecting and processing information. It is essential to know how to prioritize subjects according to their importance and urgency. Setting up a successful collaborative mode to track and share information is key for a leader managing remote workers. A Manager will not be able to share the latest news or decide which project has priority in a corridor or at the coffee machine. Besides, it is important to share company news and to ensure information flows both ways. While teams need to be informed about decisions and changes, they need to provide field information to management, reporting on local events that may affect the business. Taking into account the country specifics, being aware of the cultural and economic situation of each territory in which teams operate is key and should be fed back to top management.

7. Formalize work meetings

TelemeetingFace-to-face team meetings need substantive topics and require preparation. We need to stay in touch with the team: both monitoring projects and for personal interactions.

Regarding projects: virtual meetings with the entire team should be held to ensure alignment, communication around the project status and progress made. Touch  points to focus on specifics of each project are critical for a manager working with remote team members.

Regarding the one-on-one relationship: communicating around who does what, who is where, finding the right balance between  quality time as a group (team building or individual) and work.  For example, make individual phone calls, have a WhatsApp team group for fun with one message per day. Also understand and balance the differences in mindset and attitudes between different personalities within the teams.

It is important from time to time to ask one of the team members to present the team’s work to another team, or to invite an expert or leader. Please always show the value of your team’s work to top management and stakeholders.

8. Show empathy, listen to weak signals

Managing remote teams requires to pay attention to the human being … Check that employees work in an appropriate environment (a room where they can isolate themselves) and have the right technology and tools (nothing worse than an internet connection that doesn’t work) even before the home office is implemented. It takes active listening and empathy, more than when working in the same environment: during lockdown, we must not underestimate the challenge of detecting the obstacles and difficulties team members face: it is necessary to ask qualifying questions: do not limit the discussion to “hi, are you okay?”. You have to ask open-ended questions: “What are the difficulties you have encountered this week? What were your best/worst moments? How do you get organized?

There are pitfalls to avoid: for example, the communication path needs to be adjusted to the type of message to transfer. Email is not recommended to announce bad news or to change task allocation. Some situations require a face-to-face conversation virtually or in the same room… Then during phone or video calls, you have to know how to take some distance and not react. You should never react spontaneously, but be able to respond in a structured way, even if it means delaying the reaction or response for some time. If you encounter one or more of the following signs, please beware because a person may be at risk:

  • A co-worker is often absent from meetings.
  • A co-worker gives an excuse not to turn the camera on during a video call.
  • A team member barely contributes during the meeting, even when prompted to do so.
  • Deadlines are missed.

To detect weak signals of potential disorders that might appear in a remote worker’s attitude, trust is required to talk openly. Managers can get alerted either by the person at risk or by someone else who has “felt” something. You really have to listen. For example, project delays or a reduced quality of work must prompt us to react. So, the more direct contact a manager has with teams … the better and faster problems can be tackled.

Outdoor home office9. Manage your availability

Leading remote workers requires discipline in terms of time management: time must be used wisely and purposely, hence the important role of the “timekeeper” in meetings. It is also important to save time by sharing information in real time on a common digital platform with a predefined method for archiving, with straightforward, clear and comprehensive rules. As a manager, you should always be available, yet not overwhelmed: set time slots for meetings, while you remain available for calls because you are (internal) customer centric.

10. During and after lockdown, promote blended management

Managing remote teams effectively cannot be achieved 100% through virtual meetings and communications.  Interactions/regular face-to-face work are essential as soon as possible. Meetings can be held remotely, especially when teams are far away, for example when some team members are in Europe and the rest in Hong Kong. Managers need to understand that it is important to have a face-to-face meeting in a same workspace at least once a quarter.

As a conclusion, the key drivers to successfully manage remote workers are: personalizing the relationship to support and monitor, building trust through empowerment and autonomy, showing empathy for each other’s situation, providing clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion about the expected results, structuring – formalizing – standardizing work meetings and one-on-one catch up meetings , ensuring that internal processes are seamless and accessible, checking that technology and tools are meeting employees’ needs, ensure that communication is simple – positive – comprehensive, being transparent and available to employees. Last but not least, meet people “in real life” on a regular basis if possible (humans are social animals).

At AC Mentoring, we help managers to adapt to these new and sometimes complex situations. We are currently developing a service offering to help our customers define the best ‘blend’ for them. Our raison d’être is to support organizations to adopt more agile management and people to align what they are with what they do.

The last months have made me questioned so many things I used to take for granted.


I realized once again that reality enjoys disruption, as John Lennon sang in one of my favorite songs from him “Beautiful Boy” (hence the title of this article). We constantly have to adapt and develop new ways. Darwin has been right all along, and I pity the leaders who have not shifted their mindset in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, I don’t see any other way than at least accepting, if not embracing the disruption, and finding a new vision.

We see that the sanitary crisis and the subsequent lockdown/ quarantine have forced most of us to carry on living and working, but in a significantly different manner. It has not really been possible to put it on pause and wait things out. From this point of view we can all clearly remember a ‘before’ (for instance: when I could travel back and forth easily between Poland & France to go to our Paris and Warsaw offices…) but I can’t even describe what ‘after’ might be (for a start, the moment I’m writing this, plane travel has significantly changed and is still scarce, many people I know are still working remotely…).

A major take-away of it is (for those who had not yet realized it): change is the only constant. And in order to not only survive the uncertainty but to truly adapt, we have to forget about trying to get everything perfect; we must embrace agility. Not as a nice trendy approach of developing products and software but as in “we will learn by carrying on delivering, while doing our best, we have to accept the failures which are bound to happen from time to time and learn from them”.


And while the danger (both sanitary and economic) remains, this challenges us profoundly and mostly dares us as leaders to be (more) human. In so many ways:

1- The capacity to reinvent oneself mentioned above relies heavily on empowerment, e.g. trusting others and actively listening, which implies encouraging all collaborators to speak their minds.

Which is only possible if I first attend to the primary needs of co-workers and teams. Have I taken all the steps needed to ensure everybody’s safety? How do I take their stress into account? And all their other emotions while we are at it?

2 – How do I generate engagement and build enthusiasm in the team, when the question in all our minds often is “will we still have a job in 5 months”?

3 – Have I changed my approach of work organization? What’s my new take on accountability & ownership? On results/ deliverables vs presenteeism? Yes, people usually make less outbound calls from home than if they are in a cubicle under the scrutiny of a manager, but does this really affect in a negative way the end-results?

– In AC Mentoring Poland for instance our lead-time to deliver a short list for recruitment has improved by 30% on average since we closed down the office and are all working from home, plus all my colleagues look fresher, in better shape and less stressed up –

Instead of controlling constantly HOW things are done, have I spent more time explaining WHAT needs to be achieved?

4 – Have I developed a healthier relationship to work/life balance?

This crisis has tested my patience (or lack of it) as it had rarely been tested.

“let’s try this new business development approach immediately?”

“it’s a very good idea for a new offer for our B to C activity! We should put that in place now”

… but we all had to contribute to our kids’ education from home, do rare but more time-consuming than usual expeditions to the supermarkets, while waiting on the phone for the administration to give us a number so we could fill a form in order to make a request for applying to the possibility of having our case studied in order to postpone paying some tax.

5 – Have I taken the time to work with everybody in order to restate our vision, our values our raison d’être?

I guess that all of us have in the past 3 months wondered whether we still liked our job (or had ever liked it for the most unfortunate ones among us), whether it was meaningful. I think we all have asked ourselves whether we liked the way our companies have reacted to the crisis. Shouldn’t it be an excellent time to go back to the basics, rework or make ours again the pillars of our WHY?


My conclusion, at least for now: leaders have to challenge their role constantly and ask the question: AM I EMPLOYEE-CENTRIC ENOUGH?

Much more than a “buzz word”, trust is a real skill for a manager.

For the last few years we have been reading many articles or hearing many voices explaining why management by trust is “the ultimate tool” used to survive crises, to generate the engagement of collaborators and therefore productivity. One of the most eloquent advocate of this approach is probably Simon Sinek (see video from Simon Sinek – Do you love your wife?)

Currently it is also put forward as the best way for leaders to practice efficient remote management and for collaborators to feel empowered (see the major article of my partner Cyril Ogee about “Blended Management”) and not get lost in useless tasks when working from home.

Nevertheless, trust is rarely obvious.

It is not enough to say: “you must trust your collaborators!” or “trust your team-mates: cooperation is the way to make it” … Trust in the workplace is a subtle topic and has to be practiced; not just desired.

For those of you who read French or trust Google Translate, I recommend reading this interesting article from the Harvard Business review because it contains very useful daily questions a leader should ask herself le pouvoir par la confiance.

At AC Mentoring, we have designed and we deliver some programs on the topic, not to be trendy, but because we have experienced the necessity of it in our own personal careers.


Let’s talk about micro-management, trust’s worse enemy.

At the very beginning of my career, my manager wanted to know each morning what I would do during my workday and. At the end of the same day, he would verify, usually for 10 painfully long minutes, that I had done what I had said I would and if not, I had to explain why and how I could make up for it. I almost resigned 3 times in the first 2 weeks.

Instead I chose to ‘confront’ him and propose another reporting type, based not on how I was to do things daily, but which results I committed to reach each week.

And he accepted it! … Because he was really tired of checking my activities and those of my four other colleagues for close to 2 hours every day! And he asked me to train my team-mates on reporting to him once a week only.

Surprisingly that was truly hard for some of them. Because for more than one year (3 for one of them!) they had lived with this very controlling and disempowering way of working. To do so they had ‘unplugged their brain’ and given up on making decisions, taking initiatives and generally thinking about their job. They had become somewhat institutionalized, like the old prisoners from the movie Shawshank Redemption who after a whole life spent in jail could not adapt to freedom.

If you micro-manage and control too much, you will have brainless robots instead of collaborators. You will be the only one proposing ideas and finding solutions to issues… Good luck then, it’s very lonely at the top!


But trust, to be reciprocated, has to be earned.

When I got my first management duty abroad, in another work culture, my first management speech was basically “I trust you to do the right thing: you know your job and its environment better than I always will, so I will not control you, but come to me if you need help” I felt like such a good leader then!

I spent my first month doing business development and did not see much of my team…

One resigned. When I had my exit meeting with her, I asked what her main reason was for leaving. I was expecting some lines along liking the previous manager better, but I was not ready for her “you are useless to me: you don’t want to teach me anything”. I had then a one to one with each Jr Consultants and it appeared that they were all rather depressed by the fact I did not want to help them… So I started talking with each of them every day and ask about how I could help them. It changed our collaboration for the better.

But the worst were my interactions with the Sr Consultants, when I approached them as well to do like with their junior counterparts, I mostly got silence. They were not needing help, they all proudly said. But their results turned to be very average at the end of the first quarter, and they did not accept well my push for better sales. I lost 2 of the 3 before I realized that they would never ask for help like that. I had first to give them ‘free’ support in the shape of sales leads, in outsourcing business to them or in helping with tough negotiation with their customers, in order to hope that they could open up to me. One remained, and together we had a very efficient collaboration based on regular discussions, exchange of ideas in order to see how to better do our jobs on our own or together.

One of our values (AC Mentoring values) at AC Mentoring is Benevolence. We understand it as trusting people from the beginning. This is our philosophy, the way we lead our lives, but we know that we can’t impose that to the rest of the world and that in most cases, people will trust us only if we show trust first.

With work and time, you will eventually ‘walk your talk’ and, as a leader, you will set-up a working atmosphere of safety within your perimeter of responsibility that will result in your team-mates speaking up and trying freely, and they will trust each other and you. It will be a great management success and it will allow all involved to thrive and hopefully have a thrilling work experience.

One last piece of advice though.

Always propose to everyone involved the possibility of some good old Cartesian doubt. It’s healthy. Especially, if you don’t want what happens in the following video to arrive to you too!!




Building a trusting atmosphere within your team should never become conditioning…




The situation we are currently living is unprecedented.

There is something out there we don’t see, don’t understand much about, and can’t quite grasp, which is killing people. The death toll increases each time we plug ourselves into the news stream.

It is, very understandably, scary.

While fear is a biological necessity, which helps us survive, it doesn’t mix well with uncertainty.


And as a symbol of the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) times we are living, this pandemic is defined by its uncertainty. Many persons who have contracted the virus are asymptomatic, we don’t know what the actual death rate is, we are not sure the people who make decision are making the right ones, we don’t know how long we are going to be obliged to stay at home…

Fear coupled with uncertainty can generate anxiety.

Anxiety, when it becomes frequent, can be overwhelming and generates restlessness, irritability, difficulties to concentrate, among others.

These 3 symptoms are making living with others in close quarters, or working remotely, a difficult experience.

My two-cent advice in order to not become overly anxious: live in the moment!

    • Breathe

    Spend a good five minutes inhaling and exhaling (there are tons of Apps which can help you do that), it helps you see things clearer by making you focus on being yourself, here and now.

    • Tackle the tasks at hand

    Once you are seeing things with clarity, you can decide on what to do now among the immediate actions required of you. Start doing them by thinking about what is going to be their outcome/output and whether you need the support of somebody else. Proceed. And when it’s done, repeat. One task at a time.

    • Focus on the immediate present and stop planning

    It’s much too hard to plan when so many things are unknown. Planning will have to wait, today is the time to adapt. One tip: focus on a shorter timescale, measuring time in half hours will probably feel better than taking a day as reference.

    • Accept that all your tasks are not of the productive kind

    You can micro-nap, listen to music while looking outside through your window, read or watch series… All these are very hygienic, don’t put pressure on yourself.

    And in order to motivate yourself into accepting and implementing such routines, from time to time, dream for a few minutes about one good thing you will for sure do when this is over.



    Par Franck TOURTOIS.   ftourtois@acmentoring.com

Who Moved My Cheese By Spencer JOHNSON

Who moved my cheese?


A short comment for a little book. It reads in an hour. Tops.

Little but useful.

Not useful because you will discover many new things; you should not learn great lessons in its pages. Rather, you should come to realize during your reading that this book is about you. Me. Any of us.

By telling the story of 2 mice and 2 little people who live in a maze and whose ultimate goal is to find Cheese in order to be fulfilled (literally for the mice and even figuratively for the little people), Dr Johnson shows us how we think and reacts. How we sniff change, how we rush to adopt it, how we complain and freeze because of it, how we consciously can adapt over time.

The story told before and after the parable of mice and little people tends to show that all of us are one of the mice or of the little people. But I think we are all 4 of them. It all depends on the situation. What is clear is that we, as humans, have a tendency to overthink and overcomplicate issues. But we can use our brains to adapt to change smartly.

Because what the parable shows is that nobody is entitled to any thing for ever and that change is bound to happen.

The lesson we all need to take from this is that since change will happen you need to anticipate it, monitor it and adapt to it quickly. To really change you have to enjoy changing by picturing yourself changing and always be ready for this never-ending cycle.

Lessons for work, of course: it’s hopeless to expect your work will forever be the same, even if you work in national railways…

But it also applies to your personal life: you won’t probably be good at raising your kids if you don’t change over time: your interaction with them should be different whether they are 2 or 25 years old!

And I believe it applies to us as a whole, as a society: I believe it is useless to resist the winds of change, whether about new technology and AI or to the flow of refugees who knock at the door of Europe…

Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan

By Cyril OGEE

This books provides an incredible method to executives on how to use groups or circles of employees – called corporate tribes – for maximizing productivity and profit. It is based on a 10-year long rigorous research study.

Sheryl Sandberg leadership quote

Have you heard of: Sheryl SANDBERG, Indra NOOYI, Elon MUSK, Satya NADELLA, Meg WHITMAN, Tony HSIEH, Richard BRANSON, Anne MULCAHY, Howard SCHULTZ, Larry PAGE, Jack MA, Jeff BEZOS, Kazuo INAMORI… They are a benchmark to many business leaders worldwide.

Their management method is often based on connecting people and establishing a strong culture in the company.

Besides, these leaders have a vision, a goal to achieve with a commitment to change the world. For instance, Elon MUSK says he will help Mankind’s survival through establishing the 1st human colony on planet Mars by 2030! All activities and strategy run by his companies are thriving toward this outstanding objective. Most of the employees who don’t share this vision have left the company because they were simply not part of the tribe.

Elon Musk quote

What is a tribe? We all are members of one or several tribes actually. A tribe is a group with 20 to 100 or even 150 people maximum. They share the same culture and know each other well enough to stop and start chatting as and when they meet outside the company. The culture of a tribe is determined by language, relationships and interactions between members. So as to improve the culture of a tribe, great leaders will have an influence on the language used by member. Let’s take the example of the culture of ZAPPOS. It is based on delivering happiness to customers, having fun, being different and wild. Someone not feeling comfortable in that environment would not be part of the tribe and the firm would give them $ 4000 to leave the company!

Zappos philisophy by Tony HSIEH

The reason behind this offer is the fact the person would cost much more should they stay, because they are not in line with other members and they are affecting the efficiency and results of the group. But tribes are not all the same. They can be at different stages. What makes a tribe more effective than others is its culture for sure. A survey submitted to 24 000 people from many organizations allowed the 3 authors of that book to categorize the kind of tribes and their stage, by listening to the people and the way they speak. The words they use give a clear picture of the tribe’s degree of maturity. Culture is a combination of people’s language people and behaviors. The words used define the tribe people are part of.

Stages : Five major stages are categorized. The leaders’ job is mainly to help their teams progress from one stage to the next one. Stage 1: This stage is very scarce with only 2% of tribes. The tribes falling into this stage can either be in jail (like for the “Orange is the new black” TV Series) or form gangs ruled by violence (like for the “Breaking bad”TV Series). People are desperately hostile, steal the company assets, and may even threaten with violence. ‘Life Sucks’ is what they say. Most people would do whatever it takes to survive. Actually, in a work environment, tribes falling under this stage are rare. Stage 2: This stage represents the current situation of one tribe out of 4 at work, which is quite huge actually. People say ‘My Life Sucks’ and are strongly resistant to new initiatives. They work as little as they can and are aggressive. Stage 3: Almost half of the people evolving in a work environment are at this stage! People seem to be very motivated but they talk mostly about themselves. People at this stage complain that people around them are not as competent or as committed as they are. Even if they say they care for the team’s targets, their actions serve mainly their own interest. It is difficult to build real teams as members usually form a two-person relationship and rarely share information. ‘I’m Great (and you’re not)’ is what they say: winning is all that matters, and winning is personal. Stage 4: “I’m great” becomes “We’re great” and tribe members are excited to work together. Teams are focused on a common purpose and work for the benefit of the entire company. The organization really becomes efficient at this stage. The language focuses on “we,” not “me”. Information flows throughout the group. People’s relationships are built on shared values. Stage 5: Last but not least, this stage is the greatest of all. But it accounts for only 2% of workplace tribes. It is thus very rare to meet such a tribe. In this kind of tribes, team members are on a mission to change history and convey in their talking, that having a global impact on the world is their priority. In these tribes people can find a way to work with almost everyone, provided their commitment to values is as intense as their own. There is almost no fear, stress, or workplace conflict. This stage is generally when people shine and say “Life’s great!”. When you are at the final stage, you ask yourself: what impact on the world does my tribe have? Will my tribe change the world? In order to go from stage 4 to 5, people really need to have gone through stage 3 before to be ready for genuine partnerships. Understanding the interest of connecting with another stage 3 tribe member (“dyads” or series of one-to-one relationships) they are then able to gather in triads.

Tribal Leadership Dave LOGAN

Tribal Leadership Dave LOGAN

Conclusion : As I completed the reading of “tribal Leadership” I was amazed by the findings of this book. I understood how I could build a better organization, where great people want to work and make an impact, not only as professionals, but as members of an organization they are proud of. Organizations can only deliver outstanding results by shifting their members focus from individual success to collective goals and a culture with shared values and a transformative impact. The goal of Tribal Leadership is to learn how to get these people to change language and behaviors, so they can be less stressful and have more fun, which brings of course higher-performance results! Tribal Leadership is not about gaining knowledge but about changing language and relationships. Thus, great tribal leaders focus their efforts on improving the tribal culture; they spend time to connect people and guide members through each stage. How? By getting them to talk about the things they really care about..

Those who are interested to know more and discover tribal leadership can watch this TEDx video:


The One Minute Manager from Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson

The New One Minute Manager by Ken BLANCHARD


I recommend this book to most of the individuals I support into becoming a manager for the first time. And to a big chunk of those who are already experienced. My mistake: I should impose its reading to all of them.

Since it is short and tells a simple story, it can even be read by people who have not opened a book since school. It doesn’t take 90 minutes to read it from cover to cover. And don’t be fooled by its dated early-80’s American flavor; its content is universal and does not get old. Every person who reads it invariably comes to the conclusion that everything in it is pretty obvious, almost too simple, too logical. Not really HBR-glamorous… I couldn’t agree more!

Management is not rocket science. A lot of it is common sense. It must be said, repeatedly.

So let’s apply it! In the world of business the simpler an idea is, the bigger its chances to work.

I have never tried measuring it, but my guess is that not 20% of the managers I meet really apply the principles stated in this book; although they are but 3: one-minute goals, one-minute praising  and one-minute re-direct.

OK it wont make you the best manager of all times.

But apply the rules of it will put you on the path of excellence.

This books tells you how:

  1. to truly empower the people in your team by delegating accountabilities and means, and therefore developing them,
  2. not to fall into the trap of micro-managing,
  3. to become a manager and not a senior expert,
  4. manage your priorities, control your time.

It gives a lesson on the basis of Non-Violent Communication, without naming it so as not to scare you… and gives you ways to cooperate in a manner that generates happiness at work.

For an 112-page-long book written in 1980, that’s not bad.


fish-book Lundin

A boring, repetitive, non-rewarding job just for a living and surrounded by bad mood colleagues, who has not once lived this kind of situation?

Facing this you can adopt two kinds of behavior:

  • resignation “I am happy enough to have a job; I have loans and I’m not sure to find an equivalent salary elsewhere, etc. ”
  • react: ”the job itself I cannot change it but how can I change the way to do it as well as the environment in which it is done?”.

In the book ”FISH”, a collective of authors proposes ways to carry out the reaction mentioned above. Using as an example a fish market the authors encourage us to reflect on a number of themes:

  • I can choose my attitude: being optimistic or pessimistic relies only on me
  • whatever it is, you can always practice your job more or less playfully by being attentive to others and available to exchanges and conviviality etc.

If FISH is not a book of ” recipes ” it gives tracks that allow you to regain control of how you want to live your professional life.

Have you read ‘Our iceberg is melting’ by John KOTTER & Holger RATHGEBER

Here is a short fable (120 pages, illustrations included) that we encourage you all to read.
At AC Mentoring we love fables, because we believe that thousands of years of community history cannot be wrong: fables are a great way to convey important lessons and messages.

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This morning I got up, feeling like sharing an article I read from the Washington Post recently. It has been written by a person who will probably have some real impact on the next generation of students and professionals:William H. McRaven.

The advice he gives are rather simple, but do we really try to apply them in our lives? It reminds me of “the One Minute Manager” from K. Blanchard and S. Johnson book we have already commented here which also proposes simple input, which are really powerful when implemented.

By Franck Tourtois.

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