Leadership is leadership, right? Just because more managers are supervising their teams remotely, all the same rules and methodologies still apply, right? Wrong.
CEOs and bosses are discovering that leading in a virtual environment has required some definite pivots and adjustments to accommodate what is now a distinctly different dynamic.
More than a year of experience has brought out some new insights into how leading is different from traditional office settings to managing remotely.
1. Results Take Precedence Over Actions
In what are now the “old days,” leaders could check in with employees anytime they wanted to, sometimes in an impromptu fashion. This would entail discussing how things are getting done, best practices, updates, processes and more.
But getting all this same kind of information remotely requires a cumbersome flurry of emails and/or Slack messaging or live video chats. The drawback to this is obvious. For example, if an employee must stop to answer a bunch of emails, that takes time away from what they really need to get done.
The solution is to move communications away from asking about actions and processes and toward results-oriented and “bottom-line” questions. If the employee has questions, let them do the emailing to which the leader can respond. Otherwise, trust employees and let them work –- as long as they keep producing results.
2. Focus on Hiring People Who Require Less Supervision
Going forward, hiring should seek people who have a demonstrated ability to work well under minimal supervision. This does not address the people who have been around for a while – but as some people move on, an opportunity is created for leaders to put in place teams that work well on their own. In effect, this is producing better leadership by creating an environment where lighter-handed leadership is needed.
3. Less Problem Solving, More Coaching
Much of what leaders have done in a traditional office setting is solve problems so that employees can keep doing what they do best without having to make detours take care of the inevitable snafus that arise. By doing more coaching, you help employees to enhance their own problem-solving skills.
Note that coaching does not mean doling out advice or telling people what to do. Rather, it’s sharing your experience and describing ways that you have solved problems in your leadership role. This informs remote workers on how to solve problems for themselves with greater frequency.