Leading remotely requires you to lead differently.

In this blog, we’ll cover the Three “O” Model and the Remote Leadership Model, and see how they work together.  I’m going to share with you 19 Rules to follow to make you a more effective Leader in the virtual work environment.

Rule 1:  Leadership First, Location Second

  • It’s first and foremost about Leadership
  • Timeless principles of Leadership don’t change
  • Four common questions remote leaders ask themselves:
    1. How do we know people are really working?
    2. Are people getting enough social interaction?
    3. Are we getting good feedback when we need to consider options?
    4. Can we be as effective as when we were co-located?

 Rule 2:  Leading Remotely Requires You To Lead Differently

  • 80% of white-collar managers have at least one direct report who works in a different location.
  • There are two major repercussions for leaders:
    1. Methods of communication have changed
    2. The leader’s sense of isolation has increased
  • The ACT of Leadership has not changed that much
  • We need to do the same things but in a different way, with a different set of tools

Rule 3:  Working Remotely Changes Interpersonal Dynamics

  • Being SEEN is critical to Leadership, and suffers in a remote setting
  • Virtual communication changes interpersonal communication
    • We lose face-to-face and non-verbal feedback
  • Must ensure your message is easily understood
  • Find other ways to receive critical cues from your audience/team

Rule 4:  Use Technology As A Tool, Not A Barrier

  • The Remote Leadership Model depicts three inter-working gears that work together to propel remote work:
    1. Leadership & Management gear
    2. Tools & Technology gear
    3. Skill & Impact gear

 Rule 5:  Leading Requires A Focus On Three “O” Model

  • Outcomes – lead with purpose of reaching a desired outcome
    • Barriers = isolation, lack of environmental cues, less repetition of messages
  • Others – lead with and through people
    • You are more influential when you focus on Others
    • Team members are more engaged when you focus on them
  • Ourselves – your beliefs and assumptions
    • Who you are and how you lead is important wherever your people work

 Rule 6:  Leading Successfully Requires Achieving Goals of Many Types

  • Organisational outcomesclear targets and frequent discussion with team
  • Team Outcomes people must know how what they do fits into the work and success of the team
  • Personal/individual outcomes –
    • Develop both goals and expectations
    • Establish the rules for working together and how to get support
    • Describe what good communication looks like

 Rule 7:  Focus On Achieving Goals, Not Just Setting Them

  • S.M.A.R.T. Goals – specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time bound
    • What are the quantity components of the work?
    • How does time factor into the success of the work?
    • How is quality of the work determined/measured?
  • Setting measures in smaller chunks can be more effective to identify and address delays/risks

 Rule 8:  Coach Your Team Regardless Where They Work

  • Coaching is an area most leaders feel they can improve.
  • Two reasons coaching remotely is more complicated and stressful:
    1. Interaction requires more effort
    2. New obstacles that don’t exist when in person
  • Two-Way Conversation – make sure you are not doing most of the talking
  • Ask great questions to start the dialogue

Always follow up after coaching to confirm the message

Rule 9:  Communicate In Ways That Work Best For Others Rather Than Your Personal Preference

  • Reference the “Platinum Rule” for style and method of communication
  • DISC Profiling approach – lead others in the way that works best for them
  • Utilise DISC Profiling to help identify where your team members –
    • (a) mesh well together
    • (b) sources of challenge in behavior style
  • Ask people how they want to work with you, using neutral questions

Rule 10:  Leading Successfully Requires An Understanding Of What People Are Thinking, Not Just Doing

  • Leaders need to See and Be Seen
    • See = how you gather information needed to understand what is going on within the organization
    • Be Seen = how others get their information about and from you as the leader
  • Be more aware of the impressions you make
  • Are you visible to your team, and what are they seeing?

Rule 11:  Building Trust At A Distance Doesn’t Happen By Accident

  • Remote leadership means Trust is harder to build and more easily broken.
  • Three components necessary for high levels of Trust to exist:
    1. Common purpose – do you and team have the same purpose?
    2. Competence – do you believe the people you lead are competent?
    3. Motives – are people willing to go the extra mile?
  • The more alignment of these three components, the more Trust will exist.

Rule 13: Maximize A Tool’s Capability Or You’ll Minimise Your Effectiveness

  • Use the technology at your disposal
  • Choose the right tool for the right job
    • Video and recorded message
    • Common file locations
    • Email
    • Webcam and video chat
    • Text messaging
    • Telephone and conference calls

Rule 14: Seek Feedback To Best Serve Outcomes, Others, and Ourselves

  • Start with existing evidence – files, emails, notes
  • Identify people you trust – develop trusted advisors
  • Ask open-ended questions – open and honest, not presumptive
  • Have these conversations as richly as possible – be patient
  • Have the conversations over time – allow for preparation

Rule 15: Examine Your Beliefs And Self-Talk

  • Beliefs define how you Lead
  • Good leaders require a relatively healthy self-image
  • A few warning signs to watch out for in your self-talk:
    • “You’re an idiot. That’s the worst idea ever”
    • “I can’t do this”
    • “I’m a fraud and I will be exposed”
  • Ways to address the self-talk Monster:
    • Check your assumptions
    • Accept positive feedback as valid
    • Get help from others

Rule 16: Accept That You Can’t Do It All

  • Find a balance between being responsible to your organisation and taking care of yourself
  • Look at your organisation’s process and workflow
  • Identify areas where the team could handle your activities
  • Delegate effectively and successfully

Rule 17: Balance Your Priorities To Be A Remarkable Long-Distance Leader

  • Know the difference between self-preservation and selfishness
  • Your values determine how you decide what is truly important
  • Everyone has the same amount of time, the question is how you will use it…
  • Time management is really Choice management
  • Knowing your values allows you to prioritise your activities

 Rule 18: Ensure Your Leadership Development Prepares Long-Distance Leaders

  • What kind of organisation do you want to be?
    • Does your culture match this vision?
  • What behaviours do you expect from your Long-Distance Leaders?
    • What skills gaps need to be addressed?
  • What is your plan for developing and supporting your Long-Distance Leaders?
    • How will the organisation support the remote team members?

 Rule 19: Remember Rule #1

  • Think about Leadership first, location second
  • As leaders we need to do the same things just in a different way
  • We are the Leaders who need to Lead – in our business and in our community!


 Now let’s get to Leading!

  • List 5 Ideas You Need to Take ACTION on today
  • Ready to develop your 90-Day Leadership Plan?