The Inside Scoop on leading remote teams pt. 1

Want the inside scoop on how to lead remote teams?

While remote teamwork is solving a load of problems, leading remote teams has challenges of its own. In this three-part blog we’ll discuss the ways successful remote team leaders drive thriving organizations. Part one defines the behavior and priorities of leaders who have built successful teams.

People Leadership, Performance Management, and Engagement with Team Systems

Here are three key focal points for managers leading remote teams to implement: a) people leadership b) performance management and c) management of team systems. Without a clear vision, managing remote teams can feel like herding butterflies. By defining their sense of purpose, remote team leaders can foster the healthy practices and relationships that enable team performance and excellence.

How does the leader build trust in the remote team?

Leading team members to trust in each other and in the team is the most important aspect of the leader’s role, and particularly in the case of remote teams. Trust and strong relationships facilitate the confidence behind the performance. High performing remote teams find ways to connect, to encourage and to support one another consistently and the leader´s role is to present positive opportunities that will foster robust relationships, share experiences and grow together as a team.

This means leaders need to ensure their peoples’ well-being and build safe environments that support individual and collective performance. When leaders take an active, genuine interest in the dispersed people in their team, and invest real time to understand employees and their challenges, they create a climate for greater connectivity, engagement, and growth.

Competence-based trust, in which team members trust that their colleagues will competently get the job done, as well as psychological trust, in which team members respect and look out for each other, are critical components of any high-performance team, and indispensable to a remote team that will thrive.

“When you have trust and you get that trust in place throughout the company, people are empowered — people are free.” Angela Ahrendts

The culture, values, and identity of remote teams are unique to the team and must be decided upon and defined by the group according to how they will be the most productive, meet objectives, and deliver results. Groups with a cohesive team culture also understand their purpose and identity well enough to tailor their remote work habits for maximum performance.
Leaders should strive to facilitate this self-governance. The culture, values, and identity of the group serve as the glue that keeps the unit intact and on the same trajectory toward goals. An important skill for any remote team leader is developing a sense of inclusiveness by making sure everybody feels valued and heard in the team, and that the diversity of expertise, backgrounds, perspectives, culture, gender, and so for the are not only valued but seen as assets by all.

“If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”

― Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Build Engagement – Love what we do!

Building engagement and sustaining motivation is more difficult in a remote team than in a co-located environment. To counter this, leaders must be attentive to what they can do and to team rituals and collaboration practices on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to ensure that everybody stays engaged in the team and feels motivated. To contribute to their own and overall team objectives, it’s important to build a sense of community so that people will take ownership for their part of deliverables. Leaders must make objectives clear and align the team to meet objectives through communication, tracking progress, and empowering people to contribute no matter where they are.

The remote team leader builds engagement through trust, autonomy and alignment. Today more than ever, in the midst of the global pandemic and a Work From Home (WFH) reality, leaders need to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform with excellence, whether they at their desk or in their backyard.

Trust + autonomy + alignment = Engagement

To enable high alignment and autonomy, tools like Trello, and Asana are a good way to track the progress of specific tasks if you want a quick overview of what’s happening in the team. Team and task management tools like Wrike, Weekdone, or Monday give teams and team leads visibility on the progress of goals for each team member, whether they are OKRs, team goals, agile goals, or personal development goals. You can check out the Miro team charter tool at this link: