Leading, Not Managing June 4, 2020

Leading from a distance: Managing yourself and others remotely

Leading from a distance - Managing yourself and others remotely

The firefighting should be over. But with the UK into its ninth week of lockdown, businesses are struggling to move beyond panic mode.

That’s because many leaders are still outside of their natural habitats. Whereas planning and strategy was once their bread and butter, managing now forms the bulk of their routines.  

Meanwhile, endless meetings and Zoom calls cramp schedules and trump proactive tasks. 

Still, a return to normal is some way off. That means no easy reset: executives must find a way to make leading from a distance work.

As Vistage speaker, trainer and coach, Hannah Miller explains, achieving this means going back to the drawing board. 

Leading from a distance: Dos & don’ts

The most important thing to remember about leading remotely is that there is no set recipe for success. Some leaders are able to translate their leadership styles to video calls. Others feel out of sorts without their fingers on the pulse. 

But regardless of your traits, there are some surefire ways to move away from the dancefloor and back to the balcony.


Leading from a distance tip one: Reconnect with your best qualities

Many leaders are exhausted. That’s because they’re leading remotely in a way that neglects their key motivators. Of course, putting your team first is fine, but it’s also crucial not to forget about your needs. 

For example:

  • If you lead best by nurturing individual team members, arrange a one-to-one; 
  • If you lead best by inspiring people in a large setting, arrange a group call;
  • If you lead best by being analytical, create different scenario plans for the future.

By reflecting on what made you a successful leader to begin with, you’ll be able to regain control. You’ll also be able to cull the tasks that drain you and replace them with ones you find productive.

Rediscovering your spark will help you move beyond the paralysis of uncertainty and inspire your teams from afar. 

Leading from a distance tip two: Invest in trust

Trust is crucial to remote management. To invest in it, continue listening to the people that follow you and remember that no one size fits all. Cater to individual needs, whether that’s giving employees a virtual arm around the shoulder or rope to be autonomous. 

"Empathise with their struggles."

The biggest challenges of working from home also differ from person to person. Empathise with their struggles and encourage them to return to what they do best. 

By consolidating these relationships now, you will come out of the other side stronger.

Leading from a distance tip three: Create hope

Creating hope means defining it. And in a situation like this, it doesn’t constitute blissful positivity. Nor does it constitute hyperrealism. 

There is a fine line between these two states which is both rational and optimistic. Striking this balance is key to establishing a narrative that propels you beyond the crisis. Calmness, honesty and clear communication will help you deliver it.

Create hope

Hope is one of the most important factors in moving you away from crisis management and towards strategic tasks. This could include assessing new market opportunities, or learning more about emerging trends in your field.

Leading from a distance tip four: Choose your influences carefully

Drawing on positive influences is crucial in a crisis. But this requires more than transplanting the most liked social media anecdotes into your business. 

You have to view success stories critically to decide which ideas are and aren’t applicable to you. So, ensure that you speak with peers who understand your challenges. 

These people will provide you with unsanitised advice that cuts through the noise. Then, you’ll be able to chart an authentic route for your business.

Join Vistage today 


Leading from a distance tip five: Forget about your team on furlough

One of the key challenges of managing remote employees is making your furloughed teammates matter. After all, they are your ticket back to normality. Down the line, you will reap the benefits of keeping them engaged and involved in the business. 

"Include them in team meetings and keep them in the loop via one-to-ones."

Though they can’t perform their roles, you can include them in team meetings and keep them in the loop via one-to-ones. This is especially important for team members who are upset about furlough. 

By combatting their feeling of loss, you will ensure they feel like a crucial part of your company. As a result, they will invest in your future goals and hit the ground running when they return.

Leading remotely: Key takeaways

There are several keys to successfully leading from a distance. But stepping away from just managing and moving towards strategy may be the most important. To do that, make sure you remember these three things:

  • Look after your needs, as well as your team’s
  • Regain control by returning to what you do best
  • Use hope to dream again

Discover more about the importance of leadership during uncertain times

Coronavirus Resource Centre

Images via Adobe Stock (Fokussiert) and Pixabay


Our gift to you...

Apply now for your personal leadership consultation with a Vistage Chair. They'll help you assess areas of strength of your business and identify areas of potential growth.

Apply Now

Subscribe to Vistage Insights