Impactful leadership is a crucial aspect of success in business. Most entrepreneurs, managers, and executives have worked to improve their ability to lead throughout their entire careers. Yet, the recent surge in remote work demands introduces a unique challenge: how does one lead effectively while away from the team?
It can be a challenge to feel connected to your organization and people without the office atmosphere, but that means it’s more important than ever to have a strong captain at the wheel.
Below, find a list of tips for how to be a more communicative, thoughtful, and productive leader, as most of us continue to work from home.
#1 Maintain communication
One of the hardest aspects of remote work is the risk of losing an office culture. Often, this feeling of camaraderie and teamwork is what motivates employees, so without it, individuals can feel lost within the larger structure of the organization. As a leader, you have the ability to bring people together, keep them motivated, and working in the same direction, so it’s critical that you put in the effort to connect with your organization.
You could schedule regular check-ins with your team to better understand their needs and concerns, and so they can ask questions or share ideas about the company. This dialogue can help you both feel more connected to the company itself and invested in its success. This is also a great opportunity for you to act as a mentor, providing insights from your own experience to the issues they’re struggling with. Alternatively, you could create a regular biweekly or monthly check-in meeting with the entire company to help your team make more connections internally.
For the most productive meeting, just remember to adapt your meetings to a remote structure, and be sure you know how to effectively communicate over video.
This face-time, although remote, can be an effective way to maintain some semblance of normalcy, office culture, and a feeling of maintained teamwork that helps workers understand the impact of their work.
#2 Support workplace diversification
Diverse workplaces prove to be more efficient and innovative time and time again. Supporting diversity not only helps you improve all employee’s experiences and productivity, but it also shows your employees of different races, cultures, genders, etc. that you value them as integral members of your team.
If your company will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, use this to your advantage and begin working to increase diversity in your new hires.
Look to new locations from which you haven’t previously recruited to find more diverse candidates who can join your organization remotely. You can also lean on organizations like internX, supported by philanthropist and entrepreneur Robert F. Smith, that helps match students of color with organizations looking for strong internship candidates. Remember, taking action to create a more diverse workforce within your team all depends on you taking the action to do so. Use this opportunity to make your remote team more diverse in background, experience, and ultimately mindset to improve your organization’s output and better connect with your team.
#3 Empower your team
If your move to remote work is new, it may be difficult for employees to adjust to their new settings and responsibilities. As a leader, it’s important to understand what each individual worker needs to be successful and what you can do to help them.
Often, in a remote setting, professionals need to feel independent to feel empowered and motivated. As American businessman Howard Shultz said, “People want guidance, not rhetoric; they need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given the responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.”
Allow your employees to have control over their work. Offer flexible hours, and give them more decision-making abilities in their role and the projects they work on. This sense of accountability will help your team feel trusted, empowered, and valued, and it can also help breed new leaders to better support your organization in the long-run.
#4 Understand your limits
While it’s important for you to be available for your team, it’s just as necessary to recognize that you can’t be everything at all times. Effective remote work and leadership require a fairly strict distinction between work and personal lives; burning yourself out is all too easy when you never leave your office space and it can negatively impact the work experience of your direct reports.
For your sake, and the sake of those you lead, it’s important that you understand and respect your own limits.
Create a work schedule for yourself and designate a specific office space so you have the ability to leave work behind for the night and come back refreshed and more productive the following morning. This will ultimately help you work better in remote conditions and make you a better and more engaged leader.
Always work to be a better leader
Above all else, it’s critical that you’re always looking to improve and grow your leadership skills. If remote work is a new challenge for you, take it in stride and use it to help yourself continue to evolve as a leader. If it’s the norm for your organization, ask yourself what needs to be refreshed with all the new technologies and learnings that have grown over the past year.
There’s no such thing as a perfect business leader, so continue to develop your skills and strive to be better, especially while remote.