From Hospitality 4.0 to Customer Service 4.0 to Industry 4.0, the world is undergoing a technological revolution. In many ways, tech is making things easier and making life better, but it also comes with its own set of challenges.
One of these challenges is learning how to lead teams that may not even be located in the same state let alone the same country.
Leadership in the past may have meant having to help a diverse group of coworkers all function well together, but in almost all situations they would have at least had some kind of common base to build upon.
Now, co-workers can come from different countries, vastly diverse ethnic backgrounds and possibly not even speak the same language. Leadership is leadership, but this new revolution will require a whole new set of skills.
Here are some challenges remote leaders may face and tips on how to overcome them.
It can be difficult enough to inspire employees when you can interact with them face-to-face, so how do you do it when your employees are all scattered in various locations?
The key is remembering what creates the most engagement in the first place – namely, feeling a part of something bigger than yourself. Great leaders can inspire people from diverse backgrounds across the globe.
There may be no better example of this than Steve Jobs. While not everyone can be Steve Jobs – nor will there ever be another quite like him, he still has a great deal to teach us about employee engagement, even from beyond the grave.
It may seem like some of the biggest innovators thrive on change, but the truth is everyone hates change. The best leaders, however, are agile leaders. They are flexible, capable of going with the flow and changing on a dime. This doesn’t mean that they are wishy-washy or unstable in any way, far from it. They actively follow business trends and prepare for the future.
It simply means that they have learned how to embrace change. One important thing to remember is that leaders lead from the front. You can’t have an innovative company or a team that will take risks if you dig your heels in and fight change every step of the way.
One great way to learn to embrace change is to apply the Kaizen principle to change. The Kaizen method operates on a 1% principle or a goal to become 1% better every day. Try doing one new thing every day and you might be surprised how comfortable you become with change.
It is a strange conundrum of life that very often, leaders are called to lead people who are younger, smarter, faster and in many cases far tech-savvy than they are. What youth lacks, however, is the experience. In an iconic scene in the movie Good Will Hunting, an aging therapist explains to a young, cocky genius the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
It is very likely your employees will know far more than you about some things – and you can learn from them. It doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t have something equally valuable to bring to the table.
While you don’t want to force your tech-savvy employees to stay in the stone age, that doesn’t mean that everything modern is best. You might actually have an analog trick or two to teach the young digital geniuses.
Personality trumps skill
There is a reason that even in the digital age when we can run background checks, check references and even conduct skills assessments online, the interview remains the most important part of the hiring process.
Some people look great on paper but fall flat when you meet them. Some people don’t have a really impressive resume, but you decide to interview them anyway and they end up dazzling. Guess which one you should hire? That’s right, the one that dazzles in the interview.
Skills can be taught, but they are also most likely to be learned best by those with a good attitude.
Learning potential is key
One of the many reasons you want to hire employees with a great attitude above all else is that the world of tech is constantly changing, with new innovations being made every day. There was a time when a company might use the same software for a decade or more and it was the same software that almost every other business in that industry used.
Now, businesses are having their own proprietary software developed and designed for them that can change drastically every few years. One of the most important qualities to look for in employees is the flexibility to grow and change with the needs of the position.
Teamwork still makes the dream work
Building a great team is one more of many things that are hard enough when people actually work in the same space together. When they are spread across a city or the globe, the challenges rise significantly. No matter how far away from each other your team may be located, however, the ability to function as a smooth, solid unit is no less critical than in any office in the country.
With a remote team, you can’t just take them out and do trust falls or other types of corporate team building exercises. What you can do is create a strong culture that binds your team together.
In many ways, the directives of leadership are exactly the same for the leaders of remote teams as they are for every other leader. What is different, however, are the ways and means you have at your disposal to meet those directives.
Manning a remote team will take innovation and ingenuity, but there is no reason a remote team can’t function and perform every bit as efficiently as an office-based one. Perhaps even more so.
About the Author
Eric Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter @ericdavidgordon