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Developing Effective Leaders in a Remote World

Palmer Barefield Dec 7, 2022 2:59:29 PM

Think back to the last conversation you had when your job and/or your company was the leading topic. Odds are, the mention of whether or not you worked remote, hybrid or on-site was covered to some extent. Now think back to pre-COVID days. How often was that a factor of a work conversation? Probably not often. Working remotely is the new normal. In fact, a study conducted by Gallup found that 26% of Americans work fully remote, as opposed to the 5.7% of Americans working fully remote in 2018.

Remote/hybrid capabilities used to be a rare perk; one that didn’t appear in job postings too often. That’s since turned into an expectation of job seekers everywhere. In fact, so many companies have made the switch that experts predict that there will be 36.2 million Americans working remotely by 2025. And with so many positions offering remote work, it’s become a threat to companies that don’t; creating a road-block in attracting and retaining top talent.

On the other hand, companies that do offer remote/hybrid capabilities are facing their own unique challenges. Going into the office encourages you to build relationships with co-workers. Making a remote work setting less than ideal when considering culture. Both scenarios pose threats to businesses and leaders alike.

Unique Challenges Require Unique Skills

If you lead a remote/hybrid team in this day in age, you can consider yourself a pioneer. There has never been a time in history where remote work is typical, and it doesn't look like anything will be changing anytime soon. Most industries have found that they can cut their expenses in half by selling their office spaces and instating a fully remote policy. To put it in perspective, from reduced commute times, to decreased  turnover, and increased productivity, employers save an estimated $11,000 annually per employee. And employees benefit just as much, if not more. 

The ability to work from home eliminates the time needed to travel to and from work each day. In addition, it allows for a less strict work-day. For instance, if you wanted to eat breakfast on your 8 AM zoom call, chances are no one would question it. It’s reinventing the meaning of a work-life balance and allowing people to spend time doing things aside from sitting in 5 o'clock traffic.

With all of these intriguing benefits, there is one heavy con of working remotely – the effect it’s having on culture. Company culture is a company's personality. From coffee breaks to casual Fridays, all are scenarios that can be considered part of culture. Working remotely can’t offer those experiences. And according to  a recent study, 33% of workers express that it's harder to collaborate with co-workers while working remotely. So it’s imperative that your values and culture are represented meticulously each day. And your leaders are your direct representatives. After all, they interact the most with the members of their team.

So what qualities make for a good leader? Here are a few common denominators.

Communication. A leader that communicates thoroughly with their team creates clear goals and guidelines, enabling their team to understand the task at hand; encouraging everyone to work cohesively.  

Trust. With strong communication comes trust. Building trust takes time, but trust between an employer or manager and their employees is perhaps the most important factor in effectively getting a job done and encouraging high performance.

Connection. Connection goes hand in hand with culture. It persuades employees to ask questions, to rely on their leaders and their teammates when they might not have an answer to a question, and to hold accountability for themselves and their peers while working towards a common goal.  

Innovation. Innovation happens when good communication, trust and a strong connection are present. When leaders communicate openly, it builds confidence amongst the team, inspiring creativity.   

Of course there are endless qualities that a good leader can possess, but these are the building blocks to being a great leader – whether the setting is remote, hybrid or on-site. Now let’s take a deeper look at leadership styles that make a good remote leader.


Effective Leadership Styles for Remote Leadership

Whether you’re leading a team of 5 or 500, each leader is different. Every leader has their own style of leadership – so it’s not always cut and dry when it comes to categorizing leadership style. There are, however, a few styles of leadership that are most effective in remote environments. These are what we believe to be the most efficient leadership styles when it comes to managing a team in a remote or hybrid setting. 

Engaged Leadership. An engaged leader is one that is acutely aware of how their team members are feeling about projects, deadlines, and their job as a whole. They take the time to understand each member’s preferences and learning styles to create an optimal manager-employee relationship so that they can effectively grow and foster a strong partnership that encourages transparency, trust, and loyalty. 

Coaching Leadership. A leader who exhibits a coaching leadership style is very similar to that of a coach. They are always present on the sidelines and ready to encourage their team members while working to close deals, complete projects, and address challenges with resilience. The good thing about having a manager that possesses a coaching leadership style is that they are constantly acknowledging wins and proactively addressing missed opportunities in a constructive manner. Employees feel appreciated and encouraged to continue to grow and thrive within their team; eliminating burnout and increasing productivity.

Collaborative Leadership. Taking a hands-on approach is one that is done by a collaborative leader. Collaborative leadership eliminates  the typical hierarchical approach to a team and creates an even playing field for all employees. Being a collaborative leader invites employees to feel comfortable and confident in their abilities to contribute to the team. It is also a way to work more closely with team members, allowing each side to understand obstacles of each other and their roles.

Tips for Training Effective Remote Leaders

Leaders look to their employer’s to provide them with the tools and tips necessary to be an effective leader. After all, no one knows your company better than you. These tips will help you successfully train your leaders to be superior supervisors.  

  • Focus on Clear Communication

Especially in a remote setting, proficient communication needs to be wholly present. To best utilize communication, understand how your team operates. In other words, what are their communication preferences – do they prefer emails, chat channels like slack, video calls, etc., and how often do they expect communication with – should check-ins be daily, should team meetings be held weekly, bi-weekly or monthly? By understanding their communication preferences, you can avoid miscommunications by keeping communication consistent and in one place. 

  • Create an Environment of Trust 

Being in an in-person setting gives you sensory advantages that you wouldn't otherwise have in a remote setting. For instance, you can read someone’s facial expressions in a conversation to gauge their mood. With a lack of in-person interaction, remote teams need to work twice as hard to build trust. Detailed communication is one way to build trust. Another is to understand areas where your employees are looking to grow in their careers and provide opportunities for them to do just that. 

  • Provide Your Team with Resources They Need to Succeed

Understand your employees, what they value, and what their goals are, both personally and professionally. Check-in regularly to gauge how they are feeling about their job and encourage transparency. Always seek ways to acknowledge their accomplishments and present them with new avenues to advance, such as employee development training. 

  • Set Clear Expectations

Creating consistency is important because it leaves no room for surprises. You have an explicit understanding of what will happen as a result of missing a deadline or showing up late to a meeting. In this case, leading by example is the most efficient way to set expectations. By holding yourself accountable, you are encouraging your team members to do the same. Always communicate expectations effectively and make sure they are relatively uniform across team members. 

Valor Digital Coaching: Creating Leaders for the Remote World

Having a remote workplace environment is exciting. It frees up valuable time for everyone; from the CEO of a company to an intern. But the hurdles of a remote setting are intimidating. It’s difficult to identify when an employee isn’t engaged or if performance is down. Valor Performance Coaching is a proven avenue of igniting and sustaining high performance and engagement. By providing an external approach to issues employees face each day, both internally and externally, employees can resolve issues, create innovative ways to resolve them, and develop a greater appreciation for their company. Don’t sell your team short, request a demo to learn more. 

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