Holding Your Nerve With Remote Teams – Part One

Lee Russell: 16th February 2017

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Holding Your Nerve With Remote Teams – Part One

At the time of writing this post, I’m halfway through facilitating a session with a group of leaders who have a high number of direct reports, yet they couldn’t tell me the last time they saw their team!

Does this sound true for you?

Remote work seems to be the wave of the future. A  recent survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London, found that 34% said more than half their company’s full-time workforce would be working remotely by 2020. Fast Company

We are always told as leaders that clear communication and trust are two of the most important factors when it comes to leading people.

“How can you build trust with your team if you rarely see them?”

Trust, for me is the critical success factor that creates great leaders and great teams. I have previously worked in a team where there hasn’t been any trust, and it’s horrible. Constant phone calls, emails at all times of the day and that call at 5.25pm on random evenings. I remember thinking to myself ‘it would be amazing if I could be trusted to just get on with my job!’

The lessons I learnt here, about how I like to be remotely managed, stood me in good stead for becoming a remote leader myself. I managed a team of 15 people who were spread across the UK from the Scottish borders, down to the beautiful coastlines of Cornwall. This meant I needed to lead in such a way that demonstrated I trusted my team, that they had autonomy to run their day and also that they felt a connection with me as their leader.

I have read many articles on remote/virtual leadership and they all have fancy titles such as, ‘the 8 best ways to engage your virtual team’ and ‘the top 10 tips for motivating your remote team’…the list goes on! But for me, they miss the one fundamental thing it takes to be a truly successful remote leader. To put it simply, I have framed this as a question;

“How do I motivate, engage and inspire my team to become great remote leaders themselves, by playing to my Emotional Intelligence strengths?”

Leading a remote team to be successful is not about the frequency or formality of contact; it is rooted in the quality of that contact. It is about how you are able to assess not just yours, but also their Intrinsic Motivation to do their job.

Understanding my team in depth allowed me to become a more effective leader. I developed three important, yet simple questions that help me understand them better, they were;

  1. Why do they work for my business and do the role that they do?
  2. What are their home and work priorities?
  3. How do I use my understanding of Emotional Intelligence to lead more effectively?

When I started using these questions, It became immediately clear, that I didn’t know in depth the answers, I was then on a mission to find out.

For those of you that have taken the time to read my article, thank you. I also need your input. Please comment below on how you would answer the fundamental question that has been raised, “How do I motivate, engage and inspire my team to become great remote leaders themselves, by playing to my Emotional Intelligence strengths?”

Part two will be released soon and using your comments, I will display to you how using Emotional Intelligence within Remote Leadership can truly transform this important part of your business.

In the meantime, if you want to reach out to me directly about how I can help you with your remote/virtual leadership challenges, please get in touch at lee.russell@dpa.consulting. I would be more than happy to meet up and discuss how we could work together.

Thank you.



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