by Kami Anderson
Often we talk about leaders who were “born to lead or “natural born leaders.” However, history shows us (as well as our experiences) that leadership isn’t necessarily a genetic trait that’s passed down from generation to generation. We know of certain sons and daughters of great leaders who never became that way themselves; likewise, we know of great leaders who rose to that status despite not having been born to it.
Being a good leader is an acquired trait, and no trait is more important than trust. Whether you’re a politician, a business owner or team leader, if you want people to respond and follow where you’re leading, you first have to earn their trust. That’s especially important for remote team leaders. Absent the daily contact in a traditional office setting, remote leaders often have to rely solely on the trust they’ve built to ensure their teams reach their goals.
Connect with people
At their most basic level, relationships live off of shared connections. Employees don’t follow leaders they consider to be “aliens.” They need to know that you are human (even if you really are an alien), that you have feelings, needs and wants just like everyone else. They can connect with that. That’s why it’s so important for remote leaders to intentionally engage their team members in non-work conversations. Get to know them and talk about yourself as well. That goes a long way toward building that shared humanity.
Be transparent and honest
Honesty is the most important thing when it comes to keeping a team together. Transparency occurs a little more naturally in a traditional setting, but remote leaders have to be intentional about it. You don’t have to share every single detail about the company, like compensation or individual personnel matters, but be open about the organization’s progress. Regular reports, finances, performance metrics and the like can and should be shared with the team. Even if it’s not good news, don’t be scared. Being honest and upfront only makes you more trustworthy in the eyes of your employees.
Be an encourager, not a dictator
These are people on your team, not robots that can be programmed to do your will. You cannot dictate, you cannot command your employees to do things for you. Well, you can, but you’re probably not going to be very successful. Encouragement and motivation toward an achievable goal is far more effective than just handing down orders to perform tasks…or else! Empower your team to make decisions. Let them know exactly what you expect and then give them the autonomy to prove themselves to you. Trust them and they’ll trust you!
Set the example for accountability
You probably know people who are too afraid to apologize or admit their mistakes. Are they trustworthy? If you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to own it and apologize if needed. By the same token, don’t nitpick your team’s tiny mistakes. They’ll give you the same amount of grace that you offer them. And when it comes time to offer criticism and praise, do the first privately and the second publicly. Nobody wants to be dressed down in front of their peers, and everyone likes a deserved public pat on the back. When your team sees your consistency and care with accountability, they’ll go the extra mile for you.
Be willing to teach and coach
No one hires the perfectly trained staff that simply shows up and succeeds. You’ll always have opportunities to teach and coach. Hire people who are passionate about what they do, and even if they’re already really good at it, want to work and learn. Be continually coaching your team to make them more better. Lots of employee training software and programs are available all to help remote teams learn together. In fact, some of the best can be found right here at Remote Leadership Institute. Use them well and often to get the best out of people. Other organizations offer employee training software solutions that you can customize to fit your team’s needs. When your team knows that you’re invested in their improvement, they’ll trust you.
Trust is a two-way street. As the leader of a remote team, it’s your job to show your team the map to that street. When you do that, you’ll find everyone is engaged in behaviors that create a cycle of trust-building.
About the author:
Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management systems & elearning authoring tools.