How to Be A Good Leader of A Remote Team
For many people, remote work has facilitated unprecedented levels of flexibility, increased mental and physical health, and productivity. It isn’t hard to understand why; you don’t have to spend 3 hours of your day commuting, you can go for a midday run, and you can work during the hours in which your mind is most alert. However, nothing in life is without its downsides, and working remotely is no exception, which means that leaders of remote working teams need to learn to navigate these challenges in order to create thriving online businesses.
The importance of good leadership
Without good leadership, even the most innovative ideas with enormous potential cannot be brought to life. Good leaders are characterized by their ability to set clear directions for their companies, motivate and inspire their employees, make difficult decisions, adapt well to change, and encourage creativity.
Although the factors discussed below also apply to in-person leaders, the focus of this blog post is on the unique challenges faced by leaders of remote teams and how to be a good leader in this space.
Create a sense of community
The lack of regular in-person interactions with co-workers means that remote workers can experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. To combat this, leaders of remote-working teams can hold virtual meetups. Quizzes, themed meetings, and online game experiences are excellent ways for team members to bond with one another (JAM can help you organize activities that best suit your team). You might even want to consider organizing an in-person gathering on occasion (if your budget allows for it). When colleagues are familiar with one another on a personal level enhances the cohesiveness of a team, thus leading to better outcomes on a professional level.
Keep the lines of communication wide open
If you lead a remote team, you can’t just pop your head out of your office to ask a question or share an idea. To be a good leader, it is essential that you make it as seamless as possible for you to communicate with your team. Tools like Slack, Zoom, Loom, and Trello were created for this very purpose, so use them!
When communicating virtually), it is essential that you are clear and concise in your messaging, encourage people to give feedback, and show a genuine interest in the people on your team.
Take time differences into consideration
If you live in New Zealand and you have a team member who lives in Croatia, ensure that you are scheduling meetings at a time that works for both of you. This may require some compromise from both parties, but to be a good leader means to care about your team members’ wellbeing, and setting meetings that they will need to wake up at 3 am to attend is not good for anybody’s health.
Listen to your team members’ concerns
Just like in the office, to be a good leader in the virtual world requires impeccable listening skills. Just because you are the leader of an organization doesn’t always mean you always know best. If your team members don’t feel like you take them seriously or are interested in their concerns, they aren’t likely to perform to their full potential.
You may have some introverts on your team who struggle to share things openly with others. As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that nobody on your team is being forced to do anything that is too far outside of their comfort zones by creating an environment where everyone feels safe and secure. You can do this by scheduling regular one-on-one check-ins with your team members.
Provide opportunities for learning
The remote working world sometimes requires different skills than its in-person counterpart. Self-motivation, time management, and the ability to work independently are attributes that don’t come naturally to everyone. However, they are skills that can (in most cases) be taught. So, to be a good leader requires investing in the personal and professional development of your team members.
Leading a remote team comes with its own unique set of challenges (some of which have been highlighted above). However, in essence, just like leading an in-person team, good leadership of a remote team requires patience, a willingness to listen, empathy, and a collaborative attitude. We hope that this blog post offers you the guidance you were looking for on how to help your team thrive in a remote environment!