Leadership in Remote Working Organizations

Going from in-office working, to remote working was a tough transition for everyone, that includes the Leadership! Instructor, Robert Annis, continues his pandemic blog series with this blog discussing leadership in this remote working environment. 

A lot of focus is given to how workers will need to change their approach now and indeed I’ve focused on this a fair amount in previous writings, but let us not forget that we will all be analysed for our ability to adapt. Leaders will be judged on their ability to adapt their leadership skills in these new and challenging times.

One of the struggles will be how we are perceived in regards to our ethics: are we seen as doing the right things, for the right reasons.  Interestingly, but not surprisingly, this is harder for anyone who feels that their power base has been eroded and many leadership and management will feel this way.  This is why authentic leadership is an important consideration.  The authentic leader and its sister role, the ethical leader, are judged more than by achieving dates or productivity targets…they have an essence of trust in and focus on their people that is intrinsic.

Let’s look at this small table regarding the authentic leader:

1. Purpose

They understand their purpose

2. ValuesA strong sense of right and wrong
3. RelationshipsEstablishing trusting relationships with others
4. Self-disciplineDemonstrate self-discipline and act in accordance with their values
5. HeartThey are passionate about their mission

I think the big difference in management, leadership and indeed, dare I say it, hiring will be the shift to the individual.  It has been skewed too much in the opposite direction for too long.  Let us be blunt, the manager needs the worker more than the other way round.  Nonetheless, these days job adverts don’t even advertise the pay window.  Take a moment and think about that…a job with no advertised income.  It could be £30k or £300k and the applicant has to interpret a job description written by someone in HR who likely was given minimal information from the requesting  department.  That’s not respecting the job candidate, it’s suggesting how they’re going to be treated…and surprise, surprise it’s not a positive experience.

An authentic and ethical leader would not treat people in this manner.  Neither would the applicants be put them through hideous panel interviews.  As a leader you are looking for someone that you can build a relationship with – that you can trust.  You can only do that by beginning that relationship with openness and trust.  You have to take the first step in building that.  An aggressive interviewing strategy is the opposite.

So how, do we relate that to distance working?  Leaders need to change their thinking away from expectations and punishment to engagement and support.

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Sometimes though, when I work with organisations to implement this way of thinking, some leaders turn round and tell me that this sounds like we’re being too good to these workers.  ‘They need structure’ is a common phrase or ‘I’m just helping them’…it’s not an argument as much as a resistance to trying something new.  A resistance to adapting.

The delivery of value that organisations seek requires Predictability, Quality, Team Health and Productivity.  We need to trust our people by enabling them to be successful.  If you want to innovate at speed, people we need to be trusted and empowered.  In a remote world this is only more true as they cannot be managed in the traditional sense.  Yes, of course people need boundaries and help with being empowered – it’s not an easy transition.  But it is the right one, the one that an ethical and authentic leader would make and likely the one that will be most successful in the future.

Keep an eye out for the next blog in this series!

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