How to Lead from Afar

In this today’s world, many leaders will be managing their teams from afar.  Great leaders will have enabled their teams to be productive on their own, but a bad leader leaves their teams unable to deliver without being there all the time, and in person.  How can you make sure you’re a great leader for today’s world?

Think of this way:  You can’t see what people do at a distance.  You can’t manage activities…you can only manage progress and achievement.   You need to enable your people to define their own activities, and focus your communications on progress and achievement.

How to move your team to more independent thinkers

At a distance, you need to be clear on expectations and the outcomes you want your people to achieve.  These outcomes need to be defined, and your people given a clear understanding of what “good” looks like with respect to the delivered outcomes.   Think of it this way:  When something is not clear in your team, is something good or bad happening?  Usually something bad, so when leading from afar it is important to invest more time up front to make sure what you want to be delivered is clear.

Moving yourself from the passenger seat to the driving seat

As a leader, you need to keep your thinking in front of your people.  You are in charge of setting a clear direction and the pace of achievement.  By staying out in front of your people, you can anticipate and empower your people with the right information for them to take more ownership of their role.  Whenever your thinking doesn’t stay ahead of your people, you move to the passenger’s seat and end up being driven by your people…always needed to be there to answer your people’s questions to keep them productive.  You stay in the driver’s seat by thinking ahead and enabling your people to OWN their responsibilities.

How to create a culture of shared expectations

You get to step away micromanaging from afar by setting clear shared expectations…both on what needs to be delivered (the outcomes), and the way everyone will work together to deliver them (the values, principles and culture).   One of the most important words in leadership is CLARITY, and when your people have clear shared expectations, they can deliver more on their own and with more confidence too.

Acid test for leadership

In many ways, distance is an acid test for leadership.  Since you cannot micromanage activities at a distance, you must learn to truly lead.  Therefore, if you want to test someone’s leadership skills, get them to manage people at a distance and they will reveal to you the leader within them (or not).

For more ideas on leading from afar, give me a call.