You depend on your team, and they depend on you. Here’s how to take shared responsibility in a remote environment for the next level of excellence.

No matter whether your team is on the other end of town, on the second floor or half way across the globe….Out of sight can quickly become out of mind. Step 1 covered The Best Way to Run your Business Remotely. The following is Step 2 in the series, written to help you keep your people on their toes and you alert and present, even (and especially) when you are leading remotely.

3 Steps to Make Long Distance Leadership Work For You – Step 2: The Best Way to Lead from a Distance

Leading people is an opportunity to bring out the servant in you. Especially as a long distance leader, a mindset of servitude ensures that you are a leader who is available, proactive, and one who keeps goals, tasks and progress clear.

Be Visible… Even When Remote

Your long distance leadership should be structured in such a way that your team or local organization feels your presence even when you are physically located elsewhere. The top ways to accomplish this is by:

  1. Regularly scheduling and/or participating in on location meetings, training programs and performance feedback and evaluation sessions.
  2. Taking time to be social, reconnect and build relationships whenever possible. Rapport can be as easily broken as it established; create opportunities to maintain and – strengthen your rapport with all of your teams, and each individual team member.
  3. Taking time to sense the intangibles of your team: observe “shadow” people, sense the culture, intuit the working environment, i.e. how people speak amongst themselves, how you are initially received when arriving on location. Collect your first impressions, and ask yourself whether they serve the values you want to experience as a colleague, leader and (perhaps most importantly) as a customer.

Remember, the “glue” that bonds us together as a work team is often the social bond of small talk and sincere interest in each other’s wellbeing. Make sure to approach your colleagues and employees as people who have personal and private sides as well as professional expertise to offer the group.

Provide a regular structure for communicating with your team. It is to everyone’s advantage to know the exact time of day and/or week that your communications will take place. This way all team members can plan their schedules accordingly. Consider the following communication plan:

  • Morning: Performance Call
  • Afternoon or early evening: Debriefing call

These calls have the scope of:

  • Offering the support and interaction necessary for proper focus and development.
  • Providing the opportunity for feedback on progress and “feed forward” on how and what to do next.
  • Securing transparency in executing tasks, monitoring priorities and deadlines, and having an overview of necessary resource allocations.

Technology-based Follow Up and Follow Through

You, as a leader of a team or cluster, have the potential to contribute enormously to your team’s enthusiasm, engagement and commitment. Today we are so fortunate that we can reach each other with simple means of technology. You can offer your input, ideas and solutions in many ways, including:

  • A recorded video through Skype where you with a short message and pitch empower your team and acknowledge their work.
  • A document attached to an e-mail, where you give an update on the work from your side and any changes that occur from the board of directors that mean changes or taking new perspectives into account.
  • Via a podcast where you bring news, perspectives, videos or other resource material from relevant sources that can inspire the work of the team.

Consistency is key because the team will quickly come to count on your attention, follow up and complimentary advice, ideas and external input. So make sure to schedule this kind of communiqué as a repeatable event in your calendar together with performance calls and debriefing sessions in the afternoon.

Question for Reflection

“How will you go about following up and debriefing your people?”

Servant leadership, not mandatory control, is the mindset here. Give your people and team the best of you in order for them to succeed.

This way you can develop your part of the business while your people are eager to implement and feedback with important experience that will benefit development, quality assurance and innovation.

Stay on track and reach agreed-upon targets through coaching

The same can be said of today’s technology to support long-distance coaching or coaching-based leadership. You have a range of tools to help you assist your team in their individual and collective development by asking probing questions through:

  1. E-mail and text messaging
  2. Skype
  3. Telephone

One Daily Question to Consider for your Long Distance Team

“How will you go about following up and debriefing your people?”

Question for Reflection

“What is the most important thing needed in order to stay focused and how will you secure that?”

Next week you can read the final step in the series “3 Steps to Make Long Distance Leadership Work For You”. The upcoming post explores optimal ways to secure team coherence and alignment. Stay tuned!

About Christian Dinesen

Christian-DinesenChristian Dinesen is a Performance Trainer and Head of Institute at The Danish Institute of Coaching. He brings you an extensive experience and passion in developing and strengthening Performance Leadership and Operational Excellence in international environments.

Christian will lead the Long Distance Leadership Training in Basel – March 4th and 5th. This practical workshop will bring insight, consciousness and leadership tools for personal development, distance leadership and effectively running business on remote locations.