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. Step 2 explored The Best Way to Lead From a Distance. The following is the conclusion of 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 3: Optimal Ways to Secure Team Coherence and Alignment

Maybe you have heard the expression “Social Capital.” This is the capital of people engaging with each other in teams, departments, in meetings as well as in daily routines of solving tasks, innovate new products and services and supporting each other reach the mutual goal of the business strategy.

Today we often measure and emphasis individual performance to such a great extent that we unconsciously reward behavior that is the opposite of social capital. Our team members end up building silos of information that guard against being vulnerable, exposed, threatened and to keep others from stealing our ideas or our position.

A critical aspect of your long distance leadership, therefore, is making sure that your team has projects and assignments that they are willing to do together. You can do this by:

  1. Structuring joint ways of working and communicating
  2. Sharing the small wins and the big breakthroughs with the entire group
  3. Securing responsibility and ownership
  4. Setting clear goals and priorities
  5. Employing the wingman principle, wherever possible

Questions for Reflection

“What kind of structure have you created for your team, to bring an understanding of purpose, meaning, role, responsibility and tasks?”

“Who is responsible for securing this structure and how do you follow it up?”

“What would be your 3 main leadership actions in your everyday role, that will make sure that the work structure is being implemented real time, and adopted in mindset and behavior?”

Team Lifecycle and Development

It’s one thing to put people together in the same office or in the same project. It’s quite another to know that the team you put in place will be successful over time, regardless of whether you are on site or not. Creating a team is a serious decision that can either be very successful or become a disaster, driving out good employees and creating bad impressions among customers and brand followers.

The following pillars will help you, as a long distance leader, create the kind of process that supports a successful business:

  • Alignment
  • Coherence
  • Loyalty
  • Commitment
  • Authenticity
  • Mutual respect
  • Responsibility
  • Ownership

Don’t underestimate the importance of securing these areas among your remote teams. When you are out of sight you must know that you have a group of sustainable and performing professionals who, with their best sense of judgment, can and will secure the interests of the company and the strategy, even without your physical presence.

Questions for Reflection

“What kind of support and resources will you put in place to make sure to form, create and build a high performing long distance team or office?”

“When is it evident that your team is a success without you being there?”

Be aware of team dynamics, including those “stormy” phases that happen throughout a team lifecycle, especially when people leave or enter an established team. Your leadership is critical in properly handling these frictions, relations, expectations and misunderstandings among your team members and colleagues. Your role as a long-distance leader must be as one who can actively keep the momentum and “clear the air” so to speak among all these key participants in order to realize the full potential of the individual and preserve and strengthen the power of the team.

So be a little fearless. Invest in team socializing and building, go beyond the professional mask and peer into the human behind the work facade. Shared experiences, beliefs, values as well as recognition of backgrounds, cultures and upbringing all contribute to a stronger bond and rapport.

Conclusion and Reflections

My sincere belief is that long distance leadership is one of the most demanding disciplines for any leader at any level. Your task is a daunting one, but it can be achieved if you focus on how to get your team, organization and people to speak with one tongue and still be diverse; how to have your people to live and breathe company values so the clients and customers experience authentic products and services; how to have your team do more than agreed or expected and have an organization where we work for a shared vision and a shared goal; how to create an environment where we work together knowing that we through our shared effort win more that by ourselves.

To accomplish all this, it is important to be visible, present and authentic in your role. Virtually and physically. Be involved and be engaged. This way a remote team of people will bring you the knowledge, the experience, and the ideas from which you will build, secure and transform your business.

Running your business, leading your team and building social capital are equally important to successful distance leadership.

Remember you are as important as your people in building the business. Your responsibility is to lead the way, and show how it should be done. Your success as a long-distance leader will depend on your ability to get the most out of your collective competencies, experiences and talent represented in your team.

Long distance leadership cannot be an intellectual exercise. It needs to be experienced, learning through practice and by using the feedback from your team, your colleagues and your customers to evaluate how everyone can best work together remotely, without the benefit of sitting next door to one another. Success is possible. As long as you continue to learn from your own and others’ experiences, you will grow step by step in your ability to create your unique way into a vital and vibrant long distance leadership role.

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.