The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the benefits of remote work to the forefront for businesses and managers. With more than half of Americans currently working from home and 56% of hiring managers reporting that this transition has gone smoother than they anticipated, many organizations have begun to explore the idea of having a permanently distributed workforce. They may continue to allow flexibility and remote work arrangements even when it becomes safe to return to the office full time.
Although many professionals report that working from home has been a positive development, with 85% of workers enjoying the new arrangement, companies will need to make some adjustments to operate effectively with a remote workforce model.
The pandemic and global work changes have created an unprecedented time for businesses, and these changes call for bold, dynamic leaders who can help steer their teams forward. These leaders will require traits that allow them to operate optimally in a remote environment.
If you want to become a dynamic leader who will lead your team and organization toward success, here are key characteristics that you will want to cultivate to reach your goals.
Defining dynamic leadership
Dynamic leaders understand the importance of inspiring others and achieving success through teamwork. Rather than trying to dominate conversations or micromanage tasks, they help nurture the growth of all team members, giving them the space that they need to grow within their roles.
As a dynamic leader, you can see the larger picture. You grasp how the different traits of your team members complement each other and how these relationships can bolster the entire group. You lead through an example of passion and hard work, encouraging others to perform their best and achieve new heights.
Successful dynamic leaders help groups adapt and grow in response to changes in the workplace, including the landscape of a remote team. These leaders possess a few key characteristics that allow them to nurture this growth.
Dynamic leaders: 5 key characteristics in a remote workforce
Outstanding communication in a remote environment
When working with a remote team, communication becomes even more essential to success. Team members will no longer meet in person, which will inhibit the ability to read body language and other nonverbal cues. Dynamic leaders will need to ensure that their communication strategies fill in the gaps. Regular phone calls and video conferencing technology can help to maintain connections lost in purely written communication.
As a dynamic leader, focus on three key areas:
- Set clear expectations. Make sure that tasks and directions provide clear and straightforward guidance for team members. Everyone should remain on the same page regarding their expectations and how their tasks fit into the broader goals of the group.
- Create an approachable culture. Team members should feel comfortable letting you know if they need clarification regarding a task or even if they need flexibility on an upcoming deadline because of personal struggles. This type of communication helps to build a strong sense of community. You can nurture this culture by approaching team members for feedback after briefings and meetings, responding positively to member outreach, and letting people know that you want to create a culture of open communication.
- Focus on constructive feedback. As a dynamic leader, encouraging growth in others should be a priority. When speaking with team members about their performance, focus on delivering effective, actionable advice that will help them continue to improve. Overly general praise or criticism does not provide purposeful guidance.
Maintain a flexible work environment
With an increasing number of teams working from home, a dynamic leader will also want to create a flexible environment. You might have team members in different time zones or who have different effective working hours. You want to recognize that even if one team member works best at 6 a.m., and another produces their most effective work products at 11 p.m., the common goal is to meet the benchmarks of the organization.
Depending on your group dynamics, you might find that having a certain number of core hours where team members have to be online remains important, but remaining flexible when possible helps to create a satisfied group. Remote team members should be able to work around personal obligations or finish work at hours most convenient for them, which enhances productivity.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance among full-time workers
In addition to flexibility, as a dynamic leader, you also need to carefully watch the work-life balance of you and your full-time team members. With everyone working from home and having constant access to work emails and pressing work questions, it can present a challenge to fully disengage from work commitments during off-hours. This can become magnified if you have team members working different schedules and work meetings scheduled at times outside “typical” office hours.
However, maintaining a work-life balance remains critical. Track your team’s required work hours or required output and ensure that you do not demand excessive time or obligations from them. If your team members have meetings scheduled at nontraditional times, such as 9 p.m., encourage them to take breaks throughout the day so that the amount of time they spend at work does not exceed their expected hours.
One of the best ways to work this into your team culture is to model it yourself. Let your team members know your typical hours when you’re at the computer. Outside of any team core hours, ask independent professionals about their expected work hours for scheduling meetings or email responses rather than assuming.
Care for full-time workers’ mental and physical well-being
Working remotely, particularly in the context of the current global pandemic, can present a large adjustment for full-time workers. From a mental health standpoint, many people find the isolation taxing, particularly those who do not live with family members or roommates. The stress of the current situation only adds to mental health worries.
Physically, many people find themselves closed off from gyms or other means of exercise. They might also not have proper desk chairs and other features of a home office that make working at home as comfortable as possible.
As a team leader, you likely cannot solve many of these problems for your team, but you can lend your support and let them know you care. Providing simple benefits, such as a small budget to support home office equipment or software purchases to enhance their home productivity, can help. Similarly, a business that usually offers a company gym or membership discounts can offer subscriptions to virtual exercise classes as a perk.
Using the previously discussed flexibility to help workers cope with competing sources of stress, such as children’s distance learning or ill family members, can also provide support.
Even providing relaxing times for team members to interact, such as coffee hours or group breaks, can help cut through feelings of isolation and encourage people to feel like a cohesive unit.
Be passionate and positively reflect your brand
As a dynamic leader, the example you set for your team reverberates through the work that your group produces. Your passion and work ethic will encourage the same among your team members.
In a remote environment, brand culture can also sometimes get lost within an organization. Community culture that naturally develops when people see each other in person can slowly erode. For many members of your team, you will embody much of their impression of your brand. Make a pointed effort to build a positive opinion of the brand and the mission that you have to serve customers.
Help the team remain connected to the success and culture of the overall organization. Let them know when their efforts and work have contributed to a larger success for the company. Keep them informed regarding customer praise. This generally requires more effort in a remote workforce, so look for ways to include them in regular briefings or meetings.
Build and lead the remote team you need
Dynamic leaders will shine in a remote work environment. As technology and the pandemic cause drastic changes to how businesses function, these leaders will need to prepare to lead their groups forward.
A dynamic leader knows how to encompass the above traits so that they can easily adapt to these changes and lead their teams along the same path. They encourage success and produce results by guiding those around them and knowing how to leverage the time and talents of those they work with.
Those interested in building their remote team will find that Upwork offers an unparalleled opportunity to find independent professionals who can contribute to projects and help organizations achieve their goals.
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