Fun fact: Leadership is a complex task even in the most ideal conditions. Responsibility for business and results, for the right people in the right places, productive teams, managing relationships and conflicts and the right motivation has always been a heavy burden carried (with more or less success) by the leaders worldwide.
In the conditions of "remote" leadership, the basic principles of leadership and management have not changed, but maintaining top performance and employee engagement separated by kilometers, time zones and different cultures proves to be even greater challenge for anyone who manages organizations.
Being a successful/effective leader in a virtual environment requires awareness of the changing dynamics of relationships that affect the work environment and learning how to adapt your behavior to new conditions.
In the years B.C. (before COVID), working remotely was usually considered a special privilege, almost an incentive or benefit designed and offered to a selected groups of positions in selected industries. When the pandemic tsunami hit, the business world went online in a matter of days (literally). For some, it continued to be business as usual. For others, who have never even thought about remote work, it became reality they had to cope from one day to another. They are still learning to understand: What does it mean “going to work” without leaving your house?
The “new normal” struck the employees and leaders simultaneously and brought about a harsh truth: If not handled properly, leading remote teams and being part of a purely remote team can cause significant signs of overwhelm, all the way to stress and burnout.
As in many crucial life changing events, this is also more about common sense than management theories, “how to” books and self-help seminars aimed at explaining to us the facts of life. Using our common sense, we will try to answer some of the headaches and dilemmas of leaders and managers leading virtual teams in virtual world:
A recent global survey showed that 18% of employees (that’s almost 1 in 5) say that their biggest struggle with remote work is “not being able to unplug.” This is an area where you could offer coaching and also lead by example in your remote management: make sure team members know they are only expected to be available during core working hours.
And a word of advice: Make sure you personally stick to that rule. It might be the biggest challenge of all.
Author: Svetlana Mirković Borčić, People and Culture Manager
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