Three Things Remote Leaders Must Do Differently
If you are a leader, odds are greater than 50/50 that you are leading a remote team. And it is very possible, when you began your leadership journey, you were not. For most people, most of their leadership experience involves leading a team of people they see and interact with every day. Somewhere along the way, the world changed, and those changes mean you must adjust your approach to leading if you want to get great results.
Make no mistake, people are still people and the foundational principles of leadership haven’t changed, yet how those principles are used has changed. In this short article, we’ll discuss four of those changes; changes that will help leaders and their teams get better results when working a distance from each other.
Set “How” Expectations
Effective leaders are always clear with team members about what is expected of them — and what constitutes success in the work. This is just as true when leading remotely, but something else becomes important too. When leaders don’t see team members (and vice versa) there needs to be clearer expectations about how the work is done too. This doesn’t mean that effective remote leaders are micromanagers, rather that there is mutual clarity about things like:
- how often leaders and their team members will communicate
- how people will interact and engage with other team members
- what technologies will be used to communicate in different situations
Getting clarity on things like these will build trust, improve communication and productivity, and allow team members to be more successful.
Be More Intentional
Leading remotely requires being more intentional … about everything! When you see your team members in the hall or when you pass by their cubicle, you say hello, you ask a quick question and you give them the chance to do the same. When do you do those things when you don’t see them? Leaders must be more intentional in reaching out, making conversations about the immediate work need and more. Without a conscious effort to do things like this, you will lose touch with team members, they will wonder what is happening in “the home office,” trust will be stunted and overall productivity will be hampered.
Model and Use Technology
You have a variety of technology tools available to you to communicate with those not in your physical presence. These tools include instant messaging, shared file storage, web communication platforms, webcams, phones and email. Are you using the right ones at the right times? Are you relying too much on email, when you should be picking up the phone or firing up your webcam? Do you know how to use Webex, Skype for Business or whatever web platform you have?
If you aren’t using the tools, neither will your team. And if you aren’t using them well, well you know how that goes, right?
Communication becomes even more important without physical proximity, so using the communication tools you have and using them well is critical to the success of a remote team.
There are just a small sampling of the ideas in my new book The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. If this describes you, do you and your team a favor and learn more, get a sample chapter and get some great bonuses for buying a copy today.