Mastering Remote Team Leadership: Strategies for Success in the Modern Workplace

Many firms seek innovative solutions and tips for leading a remote team while fostering human connection. Effective leaders know how to create relationships with employees that are mutually beneficial and successful. A growing consensus is that the modern workplace flourishes when there is a shift from older management styles toward a new leadership style. According to McKinsey, modern leaders:

  1. Can communicate vision, purpose, and impact.
  2. Move beyond planning to create new levels of value.
  3. Are catalysts for collaboration and foster communication and transparency.
  4. Move from control to coaching in an environment of continuous learning.
  5. Demonstrate high levels of empathy and engage on an authentic level.

In an onsite workplace, connections and trust are built, in part, by access and proximity. We work together, meet for lunch, pop in for a quick answer to our question, or sit down for a deeper discussion. This kind of connection and intimacy is made easier by physical presence. Remote workplaces present challenges in building trust and effective collaboration, but these challenges are not insurmountable. In fact, with intentionality, many remote and hybrid teams are thriving.

Leading and Managing Remote Teams: Insights from HR and Leadership Experts

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Barbara Larson, Susan Vroman, and Erin Makarius looked closely at remote workers’ challenges. They recommended strategies to address these challenges, such as difficulty accessing information, lack of supervision, and loneliness. They published their findings in Harvard Business Review. While there have been innovations in cloud-based platforms for sharing knowledge and resources, the authors’ tips on good leadership practices that keep people connected are essential. One of the widely adopted effective practices is planned daily contact. They also recommended setting clear expectations and multiple communication channels.

Simon Sinek, a leadership expert who shares insights on the value of trust and relationships in the workplace, emphasizes connection. He shares that belief is integral in leadership, and that building trust in a remote workspace must be intentional. In this YouTube video, he shares practices that can build human connection. He recommends leaders carve out time for employees to connect personally before jumping onto the business agenda. Trust is reinforced by sharing and listening to what is going on in each other’s lives. Leaders should also encourage team members to work communally on independent projects while connected to Zoom. This approach replicates the experience of shared office space. A bonded team will have frequent check-ins. He also shares that one surprising change can make a big difference in intimacy: making phone calls for deeper connections.

Shelby Wolpa shares insights on better work-life integration and authenticity as leaders and workers invite each other into their homes. One strategy she employed at InVision was a deliberate effort to seek out empathic leaders in the recruitment process. She feels remote work can foster deep personal bonds as people see the real you, not your work persona.

While there is a strong consensus that an empathic and authentic leadership style is essential to build trust, all the experts agree that solid processes are also crucial. The team must clearly define goals, and each employee must know their roles, responsibilities, and performance targets. They must understand how their work supports shared goals. Resources to do the work must be readily available. With effective leaders, employee engagement and effectiveness are at their absolute best in this environment.


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