Updated: Sep 12
For the past decade I have worked and led teams globally from a remote home-based office. Leading remote teams can be very rewarding.
Working remotely may still be new for many people experiencing changes from COVID-19. Some people may have to adjust to separating work from home-life, may need the right tools to track progress and productivity, may feel disconnected not being physically around people, or just need some additional structure to stay engaged.
We will focus on 5 different keys to successfully leading remote teams. As leaders, our main priority is serving our people. By developing and implementing these keys, leaders leading teams of any size, in any geography, leaders can be most successful during times of transition, change, stress, and crisis.
Communication and Connection
Change Leadership, not just change management
Emotional Intelligence and Empathy
KEY #1: Building Trust
Trust is the first key in leading remote teams.
Trust provides a sense of safety. When teams trust their leaders, the output and productivity is high. Why? When people feel safe with their leader and with each other, they are more likely to be open to creative ideas, innovation, taking risks, and exposing areas of opportunity or vulnerability.
As a leader of remote teams, you cannot see the people, may be working in different time zones, or all be working on different projects and programs and unable to be synchronized fully throughout your day. There are a few key things leaders can do to effectively build trust with remote teams:
Establish a culture of purpose. Ensure people have a map. When you go on a journey, you need to know not only where you are going, but how to get there. As a leader, you can help teams navigate the map by setting clear expectations and goals. People want to know how their work is tied to the greater good, should be acknowledged and recognized for work well done, and if someone veers off the map, that they can trust leaders to help them get safely back on the road.
To earn trust, you must have trust. As a leader, the goal starts with hiring the right, best-fit teammates. Leading remotely means you have to trust the team of experts you hired to be accountable. It can be a real challenge for leaders to balance the fine line of micromanaging and being completely disconnected from the team. Trust your team to try, sometimes not succeed, adjust, and try again. They need to know that you trust them and are there to serve and guide.
It has been said that people don't care how much you know, until they first know how much you care. A key component in building trust, is showing care. Take and invest the time to get to know your team. I have leaders on my team (including myself) that have never met some of the people that work with and for us face-to-face. However, we have built trust and strong relationships simply by having frequent and effective 1:1's and team calls. Meetings are not only about sharing information, but about sharing life. Do you genuinely want to see your teammates succeed? Do you know what your teammates are interested in? Hobbies? The parts of the job that bring them the most joy? Do you know their backgrounds and encourage them to share innovative ideas? If they share ideas, do you encourage them to implement them? During these new times, do you know their fears? Not everyone processes information the same. You may have teammates that are experiencing challenges. If they do not trust you, they will not reveal what they are struggling with. The worse thing is losing a great teammate and not knowing why. The key when meeting with your teammates is to start with heart, listen with the intent to understand, and unblock or remove obstacles whenever possible. Remember, the objective of a good leader, is to serve.
Relationship building is about building trust, when you build trust you gain influence (buy-in). Employees want to know that their leaders are invested in them, care, and will help them succeed. No matter what. This is your blog post. Blogs are a great way to connect with your audience and keep them coming back. They can also be a great way to position yourself as an authority in your field. To edit your content, click Manage Blog. From the Dashboard, you can edit posts and also add brand new posts with ease.
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