Remote leadership is the future

Remote Leadership is the Future #47 #cong21


Covid has made everything remote including most teamwork, Leaders need to accept that their teams are going to be distributed by default so being able to manage teams remotely will required new skills and a change in culture. To quote T.K. Whittaker – “Culture is the least worst behaviour that Leadership will tolerate”. Leaders need to ask themselves what is the least worst behaviour that the company needs to adapt the new world of remote teamwork.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Remote working is not just a covid restriction but the future of teamwork. All Leaders need to be remote-first in their thinking and communication.
  2. Remote Leadership is a skill to be learnt and is more than just having a video meeting once a week with your team.
  3. Remote teamwork will demand a new culture and user behaviour which will need to be clearly defined using a Remote-First Leadership approach where Inclusion and diversity can be the unexpected prize of a Remote-first leadership approach but this needs to be actively nurtured by leaders.
  4. Don;t fall into this trap of incessant online meeting to check on your remote worker. Less online meetings is one of the key metrics that Remote leaders should use to guide them on their Remote-first journey.

About Sean Brady

Sean Brady has been remote working for 20 years and moved their IT consultancy company (CloudAssist) to the next level in 2017 to a fully remote organisation. This move to fully remote included an absolute ‘no visit’ rule for both clients and partners following the selection as a finalist in the EU Climate Launchpad competition where we pose the question “Why do we need to meet in-person to do business?”. I speak about Climate Change and how Remote Working can significantly change our environment, economy and communities for the better. This lead to my involvement with Grow Remote which is a non-profit promoting the benefits of Remote Working to the Irish rural communities while assisting companies and employees to learn the skills of being a remote-first business.
Sean likes to speak about Climate Change and how Remote Working can significantly change our environment, economy and communities for the better. Sean also provide webinars on how Microsoft Teams is an enabler for Remote Teaming and the importance for Change Management to assist user adoption.

Contacting Sean Brady

You can connect to Sean by email.

Remote leadership is the future

By Sean Brady

Before Covid, Remote-first was a new organisational type that was considered a futurist ideal which only few pioneering companies whole-heartedly embraced. However, since Covid, this is rapidly becoming an attractive model as companies are seeing a major shift in how employees work together either fully remote or within a hybrid work environment. This will have radical change on how buildings are utilised which in turn will see a change in the traditional office hours and office design but, more importantly, on management and leadership style

A lot of companies claim to be Remote-friendly however a remote-first culture treats working remotely as the default way of working and build remote working into the heart of their business; this remote-friendly stance is to make the company seem progressive in order to attract new talent or appease existing employees however this is not a remote-first approach because the leadership approach has not changed. This change is imperative to realise the full potential of their new remote/hybrid workforce which I like to refer to as ‘Remote Leadership’.

In the past, some people may complain about their “leadership are too remote” from the day-to-day business and are not in touch with the employees however the term ‘Remote Leadership’ is the ability to connect with their employees and to nurture a culture even though their colleagues are no longer in the same building at the same time. This new paradigm requires transparent asynchronous communications where everyone can have a voice but is also connected to the drum-beat of the company and how this directly relates to their own work and their team. Leaders need to create a culture where there is virtual bonding and support networks which facilitates remote socialisation of not just your immediate team members and fosters well-being in this new world of remote. Finally, the remote leadership needs to build a culture that creates a level playing field for all which is based on openness and trust while embracing inclusivity and diversity so the company can benefit from remote working in its fullest form.
I believe that by adopting this Remote-first approach, the company can benefit from an unexpected prize of having a more connected, productive, diverse, and inclusive community of remote workers however the behaviour of the leaders will determine how much of a prize that they receive. To quote T.K. Whittaker – “Culture is the least worst behaviour that Leadership will tolerate”. Leaders need to ask themselves what is the least worst behaviour that the company needs to adapt to the new world of remote teamwork and how can they encourage and nudge this into reality.

Remote-first is a journey that a leader should take with clearly defined and measurable business goals because change is hard and this is a fundamental change demands clear leadership. Senior management who are leaders of their own departments must understand how this change will be managed throughout the business. As a leader in a fully remote company since September 2017, this has been a massive transformation, both on how our business operates using technology and people skills necessary to lead a team and build relationship with customers while never meeting them in person. Communication is more than an online meeting but having the openness for the remote worker to feel part of the team and have a voice in how decisions are being made. This is where asynchronous communication platforms are key to both productivity and connectivity of the employee. What is the point of having lots of back-to-back meetings in the name of communication when there is no time and space to create focus time to do the work.

This may sounds counter-intuitive but less online meetings is one of the metrics that we encourage leaders to measure when assisting companies with their Remote-first journey; No-one has ever said to me, “Sean the business needs more meetings and more email”; these simple metrics will guide Remote leaders to establish if the change to a remote-first organisation is being achieved while measuring the increase output from remote-first teams. If your online meetings and email is increasing, then this is a sure sign that the remote-first solutions such as Microsoft Teams is not being deployed to their fullest potential which will undermine the ultimate goal of being a true Remote leader.

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