How to Develop Leaders on a Remote Team
Leading and managing a remote team is quite different from in-person management. To that end, developing leaders on a remote team is also quite different.
Just as being a successful remote worker requires a specialized skill set (being proactive, excellent communication skills), being a successful remote leader requires specialized skills. And the way you help a team member develop into a successful manager and leader requires a unique approach.
Check out the critical areas you should consider when developing leaders on a remote team.
How to Develop Remote Leaders
The best time to start helping staff develop into leaders is day one (or close to it)!
As soon as new staff are onboarded and familiar with the role, start tracking their performance. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses, leadership potential, and demonstrated interest in growing into a manager. This can help you identify who is “management material” and help you better understand what kind of support they need to grow into a leadership role.
Offer Opportunities to Lead
Whenever you can, give people the chance to lead. Let them spearhead a project, lead a team meeting, or even mentor and train new staff. Allowing staff to take the lead helps them develop their skills and feel confident in their leadership abilities.
And giving them the chance to be in charge and possibly fail lets you see how they might handle conflict and adverse situations if they were in a leadership role, then develop their skills accordingly.
Maintain Proactive Communications
When working in an office, it’s easy to get a team together to share important information. Likewise, out of sight, out of mind can be an easy mindset to fall into when working in a remote environment. Successful remote leaders, however, don’t allow this to happen and take the initiative to reach out and talk to their team members. They understand the importance of sharing information as quickly as possible.
Potential leaders are similarly proactive in their communication style. They may regularly update their manager on their progress toward goals, reach out about challenges they’re facing, or are open to answering questions and helping other team members solve problems.
Open Lines of Communication
Remote workers can’t walk to their manager’s office for a quick chat when something comes up. In the absence of a brick-and-mortar office, remote team leaders need to keep their lines of communication open. Providing the team with different communication platforms and having an open-door policy helps facilitate the free flow of information.
This is “leading by example.” Having an open communication system helps staff develop their own open communication style, which will help them grow into effective remote leaders.
Promote Outcomes Over Hours
For decades, seeing a person sitting at a desk was enough for a manager to assume the team was working. In a remote environment, that simply isn’t possible (or effective in any situation!). Remote leaders understand that and help their staff develop their skills in this area by focusing on productivity, not the time logged.
All good leaders know that their employees and staffers sometimes need a break away from work with their coworkers. However, in a virtual environment, you can’t simply hit up the local watering hole after work.
Create opportunities for your team to get to know each other in an informal and virtual environment, such as a scheduled trivia night or karaoke hour. This is also a great way for managers and future leaders to connect with their teams.
From Employee to Leader
To develop leaders on a remote team, you have to evaluate their success as remote workers alongside their success in leadership and management. When you’ve found both sets of traits in one person, you can help them develop into a leader who understands how to build and lead a team in a virtual world.
For more advice, check out our Q and A’s.
By Jessica Howington | Categories: Build a Remote Team
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