Mira Dahlman: People-driven remote leadership

What is good to keep in mind when leading people remotely?

When there is a smaller chance for us to meet face-to-face, the people-driven way to lead is becoming more important than ever.

Remote cooperation requires a greater dose of trust and empathy. Invest in being present, in interaction and in supporting people’s wellbeing.

Listen and communicate more. Measure and react.

Both transformations and remote working require more effort in leading and communicating. Offer alternatives to ask and hear. Ask; how are you, how are you feeling? Pay special attention to what you are hearing and try to recognize any weak signals. Not everything is necessary told face-to-face.

Find a way to constantly stay on people’s pulse; understand what people are thinking and what they need. Do not only ask one, but rather make it a habit. React to what you have observed, answer any questions and take necessary actions.

It is critical for people to know the common direction and targets and understand what is concretely expected of them. In addition to bringing clarity, remember to give thanks. People have the need to feel appreciated.

Execute leadership practices virtually and consider individual needs

Pay special attention to being present as a manager, even virtually. People’s situations, needs and hopes vary; therefore, understand and allow all kinds of emotions. Offer alternative ways to keep connected and agree on commonly used channels. Seeing others through video connection, if possible, makes it easier to recognize emotional states and feelings. Taking walks together in nature during remote meetings and pausing over a cup of coffee bring welcomed change to everyone’s day and offer a chance for more informal chat. Think of how you could serve your team better and ask for feedback.

Trust each other and cut yourself some slack

There is no need to control how and when people work – not even when working remotely. Only the results matter. Trust people and be trustworthy yourself. In challenging changes and in exceptional times, people cannot be required to perform the same as before. Doing things at a good enough level is enough. Cutting yourself and others some slack is important.

Support teams to self-direct – together

Managers have a key role to show example and raise topics that are culturally important, e.g. communicating; “it is ok for us to ask each other; how are you?”. Invest in creating an environment of psychological safety. Encourage your team members to take care of each other, upfront.

Change makers need to make sure that people are aware, understand, commit, act, and ultimately change their behaviour. This also applies for your organization and team’s adoption to collaborating remotely. On your journey to mastering remote working, remember to enable your people’s wellbeing and your business continuity.