What’s Important When Leading Remotely?

Success in leadership doesn’t come from reaching the summit, the level that you are aiming for, it comes from the journey on how you got there and what you left in your wake – that’s the true measure of leadership success.

So, how have you been leading lately in the new world of Covid-19? 

Is your team dispersed and have you had to lead remotely? How’s that going for you? Are you leading the way you want to?  Are you hitting boundaries or having issues that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Leading remotely highlights the importance of the fundamentals of leadership and how making sure these are in place can help you navigate any situation. In my experience of coaching, training and being a leader there are a few non-negotiables to true, effective leadership.

1. Trust

The most important leadership essential is to develop trust – without trust you do not have a team and you are not a leader.  Without trust there is no tribe, no connection and no collaboration.

But trust is an emotion, it is a feeling, it is a sensory experience.   You cannot tell someone or direct someone to ‘trust’. 

Trust has to be built, it has to develop and when it does you have a true sense of connection with each other.  You will help and protect each other – you will do things for others instinctively because you know that they would do the same for you.

This aspect of leadership is the fundamental beginning of creating a team, a tribe, a community and without trust, you cannot lead effectively.   Without trust you will have infighting, people will keep to themselves, protect their patch, they won’t share or engage freely with others and this leads to teams being siloed, imploding, not delivering and can negatively affect individuals.

2. Authenticity

Authenticity is about being genuine and true. You will instinctively know if you are being authentic to yourself and to others. 

If you can genuinely be yourself, the way you want to be, show your own unique style, in the face of what others are doing around you, if you can develop self-awareness and stand up for what you believe in, even in the face of adversity and even if it means you maybe criticised or ridiculed, then you will see others wanting to be on your team.

Being vulnerable allows others to relate and connect with us.  Connectedness builds trust and tribes.  Be authentic, be true, be vulnerable, and know that it’s ok to say “I don’t know” – you do not have to have all the answers.  Give it a try and see the difference it makes.

3. Protect & Develop

What I mean by this is that if you are a ‘leader’ you need to look after your team.  You need to safeguard them from others – you know what I mean, there will be someone that is ‘coming at you’ or your team and you need to be the one to take the blow. 

Even if they have mucked up or not delivered something quite right.  You need to be the one out front, the one weathering the storm, the one steering the ship.  Instead of throwing them under the bus, you protect them from the unnecessary criticism or sarcasm. 

You filter the message so that it comes through clearly on what you want done differently next time and you manage expectations and explain the level of quality that you expect and want.  But you do it in a way so they learn, grow and develop, not be deflated and feel berated.  

You can and should hold them accountable, but you do not criticise publicly – not even in a team meeting, you do it one on one with the intent of them learning from the experience and doing better next time.  If a whole team has failed, do a post-implementation review and see where the issue was – discover it and learn together.

Develop your team so that they can be their best, then you can delegate to help them to grow even further.  That means you will have time to look at ways that you can develop yourself, because you know that they have got the skills to do more, which releases you to take on new opportunities, to focus on the things that drive you, that inspire you, that interest you. 

Always develop your team – that’s how you grow too.  Remember that old saying “a rising tide lifts all boats”.    Create that tide, so you can all rise with it.

As a leader, you are their protector, that’s part of your job as head of the tribe.  You need to set the vision, to bring the troops together and in order to do that effectively you have to be prepared to give yourself to that tribe, to the team that are following you. 

You have to create a safe environment, a sense of belonging, and you do this by protecting them from petty internal politics and harsh, unnecessary criticism.  What I mean by this is that they know ‘you have their back’ at all times.

4. Accountability

By protecting them doesn’t mean they are not accountable. It doesn’t mean they get away with not delivering, not meeting deadlines.  It is the opposite. 

You develop them by holding them accountable, by setting clear expectations, timelines and agree deliverables, you empower them to make decisions, you teach them to make principles-based decisions, not hide behind rules-based decisions. 

Encourage them to experiment and learn and when things go wrong, it’s about how you deliver the message and how you encourage them to learn from their mistakes and their experiences.

5. Transparency

Be upfront!  Tell them what’s going on, as much as you can – especially if you are leading remotely.  Keep the communication regular, clear and concise – use plain English and explain what’s happening.  If there is a change occurring and there’s no change in the change, tell them that. Tell them that today’s update doesn’t have any more information than last time., that there hasn’t been any progress since last time we updated you but that you’re doing what you said you’d do, giving them a regular update, even if there’s no further information to share.  

Don’t leave a void in communication – if you do, they will fill it with their own imaginations and it will be ‘worst case scenario’ for them.  You can stop that from happening with regular communication.

6. Reflection

Do you take time to reflect each day?  Or are you too busy running around trying to get things done?  Are you creating a false positive of thinking you’re being productive because you’re busy? Busy does not equal productive. 

Creating a habit of reflection allows you to look at your day through the lens of  ‘double loop learning’.  Looking at it from the aspects of:  What?  So What?  Now What?  Why? – why is the deeper thinking and reflective piece.  DoubleLoopLearning

Through reflection you can see what’s working well, what’s not and why.  You can capitalise on the things that are going well and you can review and amend your approach to those things that are not working, not progressing or just not giving you want you need.  Reflection is time well spent – taking 30 minutes each day – either at the beginning or end of your day – to reflect will allow you to learn from your experiences and approach things with new learnings and sometimes lessons learnt in hindsight.

7. Respect

Respect and treat others as you want to be treated. 

Think about your career and who were the people in your life that you trust and respect? Who is the best leader you’ve ever worked for or been around?  What made them great as a leader?  What traits did they demonstrate?

Now think about that leader that you couldn’t wait to get away from?   The one that every time you saw them you had a gut reaction, you wanted to turn away, you didn’t want to speak with or engage with them. What was it about them that made you feel that way, think that way and see them in that way?

When you look back at your career, what do you want to see?  Do you only want to see that you achieved your highest goal? 

That you got to CEO, you got to be captain of the team, you got to lead the church group – whatever your goal is, do you just want to look back and see that you’ve achieved that – even if it means leaving a trail of destruction behind you?

Looking back and seeing the disappointed faces of those that once followed you, but now don’t want to have anything to do with you?  Remembering those that you ‘stepped on’ to get to your goal?  Those that you forgot about, pushed aside, took credit for their work or quashed their dreams so that you could look good or get that promotion?

Or do you want to be the leader that made a different in people’s lives? The leader that lifted others up and that helped them be the best they could be?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do you want to look back and remember when you’re 90 and sitting on your front porch? 
  2. What do you want others to remember, say and feel about you? 
  3. What legacy do you want to leave behind when you’re gone?  What do you want to leave in your wake?

So, reflect now, reflect on how you are leading so far in 2020 – in these uncertain times, are you leading the way you want and should lead? 

Or are there areas that you’d like to approach differently?  Are you leading yourself and your team to the best of your ability or do you need support and assistance?

Through coaching and leadership development, I’ve been able to develop confidence and help leaders build their teams. If you’d like to find out more about this and to develop your confidence and ability as a leader, give me a call.

Tell me about your leadership experiences, what has worked for you?

About the author

Helen Luxford is a Leadership Coach, Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner.  Helen’s passion is helping  stressed professionals turn overwhelm and uncertainty into calm and confidence in 6 weeks or less.

Helen is an experienced Executive and HR Leader.  Helen combines her corporate experience with her qualifications and skills in coaching, Neurolinguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy to provide tailored programs for her clients. 


Helen is the co-author of Amazon best-selling book, Heart Centred Leadership.


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