A 2015 Gallup poll revealed that 37% of employees in the United States now work remotely compared to only 9% back in 1995. In order to lead well in 2016, you have to be connected with your remote employees, engaging their hearts and minds. But how do you build an authentic connection when so many factors are working against you? If you’re a remote leader, it may be simpler than you think. Although leading remotely is harder than leading in person, it’s still doable. Below is one suggestion that can make remote leadership easier and more effective.
Establish a Coaching Mindset
Great leaders are just that—whether they’re leading others in person or remotely. Why? One important factor is they have a coaching mindset: they care about unlocking greatness in their people. Their authenticity and genuine caring about the person drives everything they do. Research continues to demonstrate that coaching is one of the most powerful levers (if not the most powerful) for unlocking people’s talent.
A coaching mindset values the person first in order to help them get results. When people don’t feel valued, they disengage and withhold their discretionary effort. So, before you dive into the task on the phone, it might be useful to take time to ask the remote employee how his/her day is going. This small tweak can make a big difference in your relationship. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Every conversation a leader has makes an impact; this impact is what drives execution. And every conversation is an opportunity to bring this mindset of coaching to bear and increase your impact. When you genuinely care during every conversation (and listening is a key way to show caring), you make a positive impact on the relationship. It is always in your power to choose what kind of impact you have—positive or negative.
Leading remotely is harder than leading in person. But you can lead others effectively and build authentic connections by valuing the person first. When you adopt a coaching mindset, something magical starts to happen. As you improve your communication with your employees, you discover that you’re leading them well—whether it’s the employee in the next room orthe one in the next time zone. You are unlocking the greatness within your employees—the key role of a leader!
This post is excerpted from the article, Don’t Phone It In: Four Principles to Manage Remote Employees.