Leading Remote Teams Is A Centuries-Old Concept

Leading Remote Teams Is A Centuries-Old Concept

2019, Mar 10    

How many articles have you read that tell you all the things you must change as a leader in order to lead your remote employees? How many times have you wondered why remote employee leadership requires a different type of leadership than in-person employees? Well, here’s the great news it doesn’t! That’s right. I said it.

Leading remote teams is not a new concept. In fact, it’s centuries and even thousands of years old. Back then you didn’t even have to be good at it to get results due to force. (Even punishment was done remotely). The good leaders of “remote teams” back then created allegiances that we would compare to unicorn companies in today’s world.

A biblical parable gives a great example of this type of remote leadership. It is told in the New Testament and it is the story of how Jesus healed a centurion’s servant. (This is my abbreviated version of the story). The centurion’s servant was ill and Jesus had agreed to visit the man’s home to heal him in person. However, the centurion, being a leader himself, said there was no need. If Jesus was who he said he was, Jesus could heal the man remotely. The centurion told Jesus he doesn’t have to go places to give orders. All he needs is to speak them.

Whether you believe the parable or not it still paints a picture of how a remote team operates under good leadership.

If a person’s character is defined by their actions when no one is looking, a leader’s abilities are defined by how well their employees carry out their objectives when he or she is not looking.

We see this type of leadership all the time and yet we don’t recognize it. When I worked in an office I reported to people who frequently traveled and were anywhere but their office even when not traveling. Yet when I received the call, the email, the text, or the memo you can bet I was moved to action.

She wasn’t just leading me remotely, she was inspiring me, encouraging me, challenging me. I haven’t had a in-person boss in years, yet if any one of my former bosses contacted me I would jump to answer the phone or read their email to know how I could assist them, remotely of course.

Whether you are leading in-person teams or whether your team is fully remote good leadership never goes out of style. In this Forbes article by Kimberly Fries, she lists the 8 Essential Qualities That Define Great Leadership. Take a look at number three and see if you can find the hidden gem.

So why all the rage about changing leadership styles when it comes to remote teams? It’s because when working with remote teams you have less room for error. Leadership deficiencies become magnified and the company will quickly begin moving in several directions like spokes on a wheel when there is a lack of proper direction. Things that go unnoticed in an office will never go unnoticed remotely. What should really be preached is good leadership, which is not specific to where you or your team is.

If you are a great leader don’t change a thing to lead your remote employees. Instead, know when it’s time to change the medium.

We don’t send smoke signals, use the Pony Express, and you might not even use regular postal mail anymore. However, at one time (believe it or not) this was a great way to communicate. If this seems archaic to you know that many of your employees feel the same about picking up the phone to have or conversation or even using email.

Instead of wasting time and money on trying to change your leadership style (if you’re a good leader of course), invest on creating a great communication strategy that must include listening.