by Chuck Chapman, Content Strategy Coordinator
Whether in life or in business, one attribute is characteristic of those who succeed: resilience. The importance of having that trait is pretty obvious. Nobody enjoys a smooth, uninterrupted ride to the top. Neither does anyone get to sit back and relax once you get there. At some point on your team’s journey, you’re going to encounter some kind of adversity. The question then becomes, how will you react to it?
What does resilience look like?
Resilience isn’t something you can easily identify. In fact, it’s a quality that often lies dormant and unseen until the moment of crisis arrives and you need it. There are, however, some underlying factors that can increase the likelihood your team will be able to face adverse circumstances and emerge stronger than before.
Like many other organizational qualities we discuss here, these are just as important for co-located teams as they are for remote teams. The big difference is cultivating these qualities is much more difficult when your team is scattered, requiring intentional effort and leadership.
Resilient remote teams are connected and engaged.
Think about what happens emotionally and psychologically when your team encounters adversity. Whether it’s a financial setback, a leadership change or some other event, the proverbial rug gets pulled out from under everyone’s feet.
This leaves team members questioning each other, themselves and especially leadership. If your team hasn’t done the work to become connected and engaged with each other, what will you have to lean on when times get tough? If you have put in that work, however, you have a culture of trust that can provide stability and comfort when uncertainty surrounds the team.
Resilient remote teams are informed.
When times get tough, things that are unknown become greater than what is known. That creates fear and anxiety in the team. Teams that have good information sharing practices and leadership that goes the extra mile to ensure transparency are far more likely to survive during these difficult times and be in a position to bounce back. These teams aren’t wondering whether management is hiding important information or fearful of the “other shoe dropping.” There’s a track record of openness and honesty that provides a measure of assurance when the future looks cloudy.
Resilient teams follow positive examples.
Rudyard Kipling’s classic poem “If” is often cited as an example of good leadership. The opening line is: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”
Long-distance leaders who have shown a track record of level-headedness are much more likely to have teams who follow that example when crisis comes. It’s a lot like when you’re flying and the plane experiences some turbulence. Most of us look to the flight crew to see how they’re reacting. If they’re going about their business, we know this isn’t something we need to worry about. Even if the crew goes back to their seats and straps in, how they carry themselves can either calm or add to the stress the passengers are experiencing.
All of these qualities discussed above would be considered “soft skills,” and yet they could very well be the difference between success and failure for your remote team. No amount of business acumen is going to insulate you from the inevitable moments of adversity you’ll experience. The question is whether you will have done the preparatory work as a leader to make sure your team survives and ultimately thrives.
The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership is the ultimate guide for leaders who want to be the kind of steadying force their remote teams need. Order your copy today and transform your team into one that will thrive regardless of circumstances.