«With digitalization, the leadership framework for executives has been changing for years, offering more flexibility and automation to the courageous who embraced these new methods. With COVID-19, one of the accelerated aspects of digitalization was remote leadership, which became a reality for a wide range of executives.”
Remote leadership means leading a virtual team and thus positively directing employees, their behaviour, and motivation from afar – always in line with set corporate goals (Avantgarde Experts, 2020). Yet, what are relevant principles for successful remote leadership? I introduce you to three central success factors in this article: trust, flexibility, and creativity.
Three Central Success Factors for Remote Leadership:
- Trust: The mutual trust between executives and employees is crucial for remote leadership to work. On the one hand, executives should not micromanage but rather set clear goals, well-defined tasks, and structured processes while trusting that employees will follow these three communicated aspects. On the other hand, employees should bring results to show that their supervisor’s trust is being respected by working independently and having an entrepreneurial mindset.
- Flexibility: Executives need to understand the preference of employees regarding the home office and balance it with business requirements. On the one hand, some employees may prefer to work remotely (e.g., due to less probable exposure to the COVID-19 virus). On the other hand, other employees may want to go to the office (for instance, they might be more extroverted and enjoy personally meeting team colleagues). Yet, it can be relevant for the company to have employees working on-site, such as because intense on-site teamwork is crucial due to urgent deadlines. Thus, executives need to understand the individual needs of employees and balance them with business requirements. In this way, it is possible to find a solution satisfying all parties.
- Creativity: The rethinking called for by the advent of an “overnight pandemic” has brought the challenge that executives need to create innovative digital forms of collaboration, team-building activities, and stakeholder management. Digital tools cannot completely replace personal meetings, yet physical meetings with all employees or stakeholders may also be impossible. Thus, executives could organize collaboration events as digital lunches, hybrid formats of team building activities by sending a thematic care package in advance to a digital event and, personalized stakeholder management by sending hand-written cards to thank for the collaboration.
In conclusion, remote leadership has become even more practised. Three central success principles to lead remotely are trust, flexibility, and creativity. For instance, mutual trust between executives and employees is crucial so that each party accomplishes business goals. Meanwhile, flexibility allows finding a solution regarding the home office theme. At last, creativity is relevant to reshape forms of collaboration, team-building activities, and stakeholder management.