Remote leadership is not nearly as easy as it might seem at first glance.
Many leaders recently learned that leading a team through the screen of your computer requires a completely new way of thinking and doing. It has meant learning new skills, adapting a new approach to performance measurement, and grappling with the fault lines in our teams.
Here are 5 things that great remote leaders don’t do.
1. Don’t Spy On Their People
Going remote meant that leaders experienced the true meaning of trusting their teams.
The question I have been asked the most over the past few months has been, “Now that I can’t see my people, how do I know they are doing what they are supposed to be doing?” Unfortunately, many leaders responded to this situation by finding ways to monitor and surveil their team. This means screenshots of what people are working on, strict time clocking sheets, and even gps tracking.
Great leaders focus on building trust instead.
2. Don’t Get Stuck In Old Ways Of Doing Things
A religious devotion to how things have always been done is the shortest point between an organization and irrelevance.
More than ever leaders must be fluid across multiple domains. This means experimenting with different products and services, different leadership styles, and even to have a more experimental approach to their own personal and professional development. Rigidity in any domain might signal the start of the end.
Great leaders allow for experimentation.
3. Don’t Make People Feel Left Out
Remote work can either bring us together or push us apart.
Unfortunately it’s easy for remote work to create an environment where only the most assertive and outgoing of individuals shine through. This happens when we don’t actively include people in the conversation during a meeting. Or when some of our people have access to inferior technology and cannot participate with a good connection and adequate equipment.
Great leaders find ways to create unity in their teams.
4. Don’t Abscond Their Leadership Responsibilities
When the air is filled with uncertainty we need our leaders to shine bright.
For many leaders the pressure over the past few months became too much. This meant that they were looking for ways to outsource their leadership to their teams. Under the guise of shared responsibility they absconded their own.
Of course, shared responsibility is a good thing. But not if it means that as a leader you are stepping back and not providing the direction and support that your team needs from you.
You still have make the tough decisions.
5. Don’t Obsess Over What People Do With Their Time
At the heart of much of the frustration that leaders have experienced over the past few months is the fact that at the office you could see people clock in and clock out. This somehow being code for ‘people are getting things done’.
Now, without their physical presence, leaders have no idea what people are up to. And this petrifies many of them.
The irony is that research has shown that people have actually been working longer hours than before — probably due to the blurred lines between work and recreation at home.
Great leaders obsess not about time but about supporting their people to achieve a desire output.
Remote leadership, just as “normal” leadership, requires you to be intentional about how you are showing up for your organization and its people.
Remember, that leadership is something that can be learned. So, be patient with yourself and actively work towards building trust and creating unity.
Never forgetting the most important question you can ask your people:
“What do you need me from me?”