Leadership in Remote & Onsite Teams - It’s Easier Than You Think
We are constantly alternating between the known and unknown. As a business leader, you constantly guide your company – partners, customers, and workers – through unknown waters. As expressed in our previous article: Thrive Through Change: being able to adapt is vital, but so are certain skills: resiliency, leadership, communication, transparency, and being open-minded. Today’s article looks at the core differences between work-from-home and onsite policies. The goal is to show you that the two aren’t that different.
Skills of Leadership Traditionally.
Traditionally (in the early 1900s, up until 1950), the mark of a good leader included the ability to persuade others, to be organized, and to have good managerial skills. During my research for this article, I was surprised to see how terms and phrases like, “imposing their will,” and “being in charge” were used to describe “good” leaders and their skills back then. Leaders were described as someone charismatic and good at getting their way.
However, times have changed, the mark of a good leader is being redefined as we learn from our current situations and what has not worked in the past. What is considered the best leadership practice among prominent coaches today is the focus on “people before profit.” This links in with an amazing concept that Simon Sinek explains. Sinek is an American-British author and motivational speaker whose thoughts have been appreciated by some of today’s most important business minds, including Disney, Microsoft, and multiple branches of the US military.
Sinek speaks of infinite and finite games, with business being an infinite game that one needs to play with an infinite mindset. In summary, the concept points out that flaws in leadership are a result of consistently playing finite games within an infinite system. According to Sinek:
“Doing this leads to predictable outcomes that result in the eventual demise of the organization.”
Finite Game - “Known players, fixed rules and agreed-upon objectives.” The example he provides is football and “the objective is to win the game.”
Infinite Game - “There are known and unknown players, rules are changeable, you can play however you want and the objective is to perpetuate the game, to stay in it as long as possible… There is no such thing as winning business”
The benefit to having an infinite mindset in business is that you are constantly moving and adapting. You are working with multiple factors that affect your business, like workers and partners, as opposed to trying to control them (which has never worked in the long term). Having the foundation of good leadership practices is needed when it comes to managing onsite or remote teams. You cannot expect to guide and be a good leader if you have never been trained or guided yourself.
If you would like to learn more about this concept, I highly recommend that you check it out here on Impact Theory.
Differences In Managing Onsite and Remote Teams.
Given this information, you may be wondering what the good skills are of a leader in a remote space. How do I successfully manage a good remote team? The answer is simple. It is the same as an onsite team and is not something to cause you to feel overwhelmed or anxious. Just as you have managed an onsite team to the best of your ability, you will do the same with the remote team. The only difference between the two is the priorities that will need to shift. You need to cater to the difficulties of any business and working remotely also has them.
Difficulties that result from onsite teams include:
Lack of flexibility.
And the most common issues that remote work cause seem to be:
You no longer get that face-to-face interaction, resulting in
miscommunications and feeling less connected.
There may be more distractions/ interruptions.
However, this does not mean there aren't tactics and resources to aid with these issues. When it comes to remote teams, by prioritizing the difficulties first and addressing them head-on, a leader can minimize the impact of any issues. Just like you would face individual issues with onsite team members, take the same approach with remote teams. Remember that a best practice nowadays is “people over profit.” By assisting the problems of workers, customers, and partners, a leader invokes a sense of trust, and trust breeds loyalty. And when you put people first you can become more profitable after all.
A business that cares more about its workers, customers, and partners will last longer in the infinite game that the company that cares solely about profit. The difference between work-from-home and onsite teams lies in the implementation of management and not in the practice of it. As a leader, the question should not be, “Can I manage a remote team?” it should rather be, “How will changing to remote teams benefit my workers?”