Limitless Leadership™ is based on the premise of learning, unlearning, forever evolving and having an infinite mindset of what could be. Whether you are managing teams on-site or remotely, leadership can be learnt and built upon.
In today’s workforce, managers can often be the unsung heroes. Pivotal to an employee’s performance, motivation and happiness at work, they have the power to influence how engaged employees are. In essence, they drive how people may think, feel and act, therefore have great impact on the culture of their organisation.
Strange days indeed
As I write this, the global pandemic COVID-19 has forced many workplaces into lockdown with employees working remotely from home, in shifts or on a full-time basis.
Many of my clients are working remotely. My brother has lost his job; my sister is in isolation having cancer treatment, and my Mum has just had her business shut their doors. Many of those around us are in a state of flux, fear and anxiety. The familiar smiles from the coffee shops are fading, the roads are quiet, and there is a strange energy in the air as we remain uncertain of our future, our health, our work and all that we planned.
Supercharging your leadership is needed now more than ever
In these times of uncertainty, change and disruption, as leaders, I believe this is an opportunity to shine and level up in our leadership through new ways of working, thinking and collaborating. With a major pivot, we can all get through this. Personally, we have had the majority of our work postponed, and for the past 3 weeks have been working feverishly around the clock to change HOW we deliver what we do. Going from chaos to calm is important as we navigate a landscape we have never seen before in our lifetime.
Leading remote teams
Leading remote teams is fast becoming part of the new normal due to our current situation and the accessibility of technology, better working practices and a downturn in the need to invest in expensive offices. Some businesses access all they need from a backpack. Whoever would have thought this was even possible?
More productive at home?
A report from the UN International Labour organisation found that while many employees are more productive when they work outside of the conventional office, they're also more vulnerable to working longer hours, a more intense work pace, work-home interference, and in some cases, greater stress.
The Challenges are real
Recent research from Soapbox indicated that remote managers experience retention challenges 6 times higher than on-site managers. They also discovered that remote managers struggle 2 times more than on-site managers when getting their teams to collaborate. This is due to distance, time zones and other factors.
Another finding was that managers leading remotely found hitting team goals almost twice as hard as when leading onsite. It was also discovered that managers with more than 50% of their team working remotely struggle with providing value to employees in one-on-one catch-ups. Another key finding was that 56% of employees surveyed believe that managers need to adapt their skills to lead a remote workforce.
As leaders, we need to step up and supercharge our leadership.
Having worked and led teams remotely for over 20 years, I’m highly aware of the above challenges. In conjunction with these challenges, many other barriers block our way to successfully lead teams and businesses remotely.
A few key tips:
Lead with empathy
Empathy requires us to lean in and really feel what other people are going through.
Don’t assume everyone is seeing the world the same way as you. Take the time to be present and have deep and meaningful interactions with your team and peers.
Simple questions such as; How can I support you right now? Would you like me to talk or just listen? Is there anything else I can help you with?
A change of mindset can be a barrier. An adaptative mindset around creating new norms is crucial when we go from an office environment to working in isolation. When we shift from what know there is uncertainty, and as humans, we aren’t good at dealing with the unknown, so reframing expectations is vital here.
Remember thoughts and what we tell ourselves lead to how we feel and therefore, what we action. Be conscious of what you are thinking and the story you are creating. Talk to yourself as a friend would.
Sole or group environment
In the workplace, there are those that lean towards working in a sole environment and most probably will usually adapt more easily to working remotely than someone who is motivated by people around them. Many people struggle to stay motivated working alone, even with access to online collaborative tools and new ways of working.
Ensure you tap into each person and amplify technology as a conduit to collaboration and don’t assume that everyone has adjusted to working remotely in the same way.
Set new expectations
A change in working conditions can lead to unclear expectations, boundaries and ways of working. For an employee having no direction or leadership is like driving somewhere using google maps without inputting a destination. There is nowhere to aim for or reach, which can stifle action, motivation and overall morale.
Unclear purpose, objectives and expectations of the business, team and roles are widespread, especially when new norms aren’t in place and accepted.
Ensure expectations are discussed as a team and everyone set boundaries for what they will and won’t stand for (such as working hours, breaks)
Set up your environment
The environment we work from can be a barrier. Lack of room, light, interaction, systems and processes can stifle our productivity, motivation and overall performance. Communication can become fragmented when a team is split up. A lack of training in new systems and other tools needed to do their job from home can impact confidence and productivity.
Ensure workspaces are set up for success, and the technology and systems are assessed, understood and utilised.
Managing time and prioritising is another common challenge and distractions from visitors, loved ones and even the family pet can get in the way. We may find loneliness creeps in. We are wired to connect, so this is a natural and common occurrence. I spoke with a client this week, who feels like she has FOMO – fear of missing out – and being out of the loop because she relocated to her home office from a fast-paced open plan office environment.
Manage self to manage time and ensure everyone has a work plan and boundaries around this.
Use physical disconnection to drive Connection
Human beings are wired for connection; it’s an innate need to belong and be part of a community. Ensure as a leader, you jealously protecting time for 1:1s (often first to be forgotten), team catch-ups, and quick check-in calls to keep the lines of communication open. Be innovative and have virtual lunches, themes of the day and different times you catch up.
Use a variety of tools to connect and leverage the technology available.
Coach and grow team members to facilitate team catch-ups, so you aren’t always in the driver’s chair.
I really believe there is a gift in every situation, and now is your time to shine as a leader, collaborate more deeply with your team and look at new ways of working to lift performance.
The world needs you; now is the time to step up and supercharge your leadership.
Over the last few weeks, we have adapted many of our programs to be REMOTE EXPERIENCES. We have designed and facilitated 1:1 sessions, group coaching and workshops on some of the following topics:
- Supercharge your remote work
- Lifting motivation in challenging times
- Resetting mindset & habits
- Coaching to connect
- Strategic planning to adapt
Please reach out if you need support, we are here for you.
Lead to be limitless
If this article has resonated with you in any way – I’d love to hear your thoughts – get in touch. Being in service to my clients is why I do what I do and your feedback, insight and I embrace your feedback and suggestions.
Find out where you sit on the Leadership Ladder, your responses are anonymous and the results summarised to help us better understand where our market sits so that we can continue to provide, insights, tools and solutions to assist you in moving up to be LIMITLESS, co-creative and stand out.
Renée is a mentor, coach, expert facilitator and keynote speaker, She is the author of ‘Limitless Leadership’ and co-author of ‘Leaders of Influence’.
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