Secrets to success

These remote leadership skills are more important than ever during lockdown

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With lockdown looming again for much of Europe, find out which skills are essential for successfully leading your team through the coming weeks

With much of Europe facing renewed lockdowns, there’s never been a better time to reassess your leadership skills as you face a potentially challenging few weeks and months ahead.
While many key skills, such as resilience and adaptability, are more relevant than ever before, there are other others that require a rethink or flex to meet a new standard of best practice.

1. Communication

Old world: Effective written and verbal communication skills have always helped leaders build good working relationships with everyone, from suppliers and potential investors to customers and employees. Pre-pandemic, good body language and a firm handshake were also important.

New world: During lockdown, and with your team working from a variety of locations, communication is more important than ever before – especially when you have to do it from behind a computer. If the majority of your communication is through email or text-based chat, it’s worth taking the extra time to ensure you’re being as clear as possible – while still staying polite and friendly.
In fact, you may also want to rethink how much time you’re spending on the keyboard and start making yourself more visible to your colleagues and employees on video calls. “The more uncertain or challenging the circumstances, the more important it is for leaders to be visible,” recommends leadership strategist, Tara J Rethore. “All leaders can communicate important messages about the team’s work, progress towards shared goals, required changes, etc. visually – via livestream, video-conference platforms or simply a video file embedded in a text or email that can be viewed on mobile devices.”

2. Delegation and management

Old world: Failure to delegate was a trap some team leaders fell into, usually because they were reluctant to relinquish control. Good leaders found a way to manage their time effectively by delegating responsibility to someone else in the business or outsourcing.

New world: It can be helpful to realise that most people want to do a good job at work, whether they are physically present or not. They want their company to be successful and they want to contribute to that success.
Once you know this, it’s easier to see how much remote leadership is about empowering your staff to do the work you’ve asked them to do – and trusting that it will get done. “Remote work success depends heavily on whether you trust employees to do their work even if you can’t see them,” says Aaron McEwan, Vice President, Gartner.
Exchanging trust for managerial control was critical for the success of homeworking, found a study by Acas. Managers felt that difficulties in managing flexible workers could be minimised through effective communications. This was particularly important in terms of ensuring that work could be completed on time, with deadlines and targets being met.

3. Project management and planning

Old world: Starting and running a business meant managing a range of projects, developing multiple policies and procedures and effectively managing your resources, including time, money and staff.

New world: Operating online means you can take advantage of many tools to help with all of the same tasks as before. You may find this actually works better for your team, as you’re able to more easily document processes and decisions – and ensure that your employees are all clearly briefed and accountable.
Plenty of tools exist to help you plan and project manage across dispersed teams, from work management platforms to time-zone schedulers. Empowering your colleagues to also use these platforms should be a priority for leaders, so invest in training wherever you can.

4. Networking

Old world: Building good relationships through networking helped grow your business and give you the support you needed.

New world: Lockdown can be isolating for many professionals, so take the time to nurture relationships where you can. While networking may have moved online for the moment, that doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable. From improving your profile on LinkedIn to joining virtual alumni events, it’s important to invest time and energy in building up your contacts and staying in touch with those you already have.
Making virtual team meetings and wider video networking opportunities part of your working week can help to contribute to the future success of your business. “Using your spare time while under lockdown is a way of laying the foundation for future growth for when the pandemic comes to an end,” recommends Dr Jo Webber, CEO of social networking app Pod.

Businesses today need more flexibility than ever, with scalable workspace that makes sense for today. With Regus, you can create a flexible way of working that is good for your people and great for business