- 1. Practice Micro-Understanding
- 2. Lean into Imperfection
- 3. Embrace Playful Leadership
- 4. Express Gratitude and Reward Good Work
- 5. Create a Shared Vision for Your Team
- 6. Make Time for Social Interactions
- 7. Practice Adaptability in the Moment
What habits do highly successful remote leaders use in their daily lives? If you’ve ever wondered how to manage a remote team without losing your sanity or your Wi-Fi connection - then welcome to the front lines of remote management. In this article, we will look at the 7 habits of highly successful remote leaders.
We’re talking about the pros who've figured out how to ensure productivity doesn't turn into burnout, and distance doesn't mean disconnection. They set the bar for remote greatness!
These habits are the secret ingredients that can transform the chaos of remote work into a streamlined, efficient operation.
They're all about keeping your team engaged, your company thriving, and your clients satisfied.
By the end of this post, you'll be equipped with practical strategies to lead your remote team like a pro, ensuring everyone is productive, happy, and efficient.
So, grab your coffee, put your phone on silent, and let's get started on your journey to becoming a master of remote leadership practice.
These habits are yours for the taking.
1. Practice Micro-Understanding
Leaders who hover over their team's every action aren't leading, they're stalking. Forget micromanaging and practice micro-understanding instead.
This habit is about the daily practice of taking a moment to lean in and listen. Offer support, remind your remote team that they can come to you for help or advice, and consistently use check-in opportunities to show empathy. We’re all in this together!
At your next standup or one-on-one ask:
- What are your biggest blockers to getting this done?
- Is there someone on your team who can jump in and help?
- Do you need to tweak the timeline to allow for additions?
Doing this will help you get a grip on their remote work output, while leaving them to get on with it.
It's not about poking your nose into every detail, but about knowing enough to solve problems and offer guidance.
2. Lean into Imperfection
Remember when team leads were always suited up and never showed a hair out of place? Those days are long gone. We’re all people with busy lives here. And science has proven that the concept of perfection in leadership is problematic.
These days we embrace juggling work and life, pets, kids, and all the chaos that comes with it.
So, get comfy and show your remote team that it's okay to be human, even during a Zoom call. It will pay off in higher trust, better relationships and greater innovations.
Practicing imperfect leadership daily:
- You can’t always make fair decisions in a remote environment. They often have to be based on limited factors (resources, time, market conditions, outside demands) – so when you can’t be 100% fair, explain why to your team.
- While you’d like to be available 24/7, the fact is that you can’t be. Async work aside, leading means prioritizing in a way that will regularly make you unreachable. When that happens, simply take a moment to prepare your team for it.
- Accept responsibility for mistakes and don’t be quick to place blame on people. By doing this you show your team mistakes aren’t a full stop, but a pause on the road to making things better.
3. Embrace Playful Leadership
Who said remote collaboration is all work and no play?
A little fun does a lot for remote culture. Whether it's virtual escape rooms or walking meetings, relationships bloom when you mix playfulness into your workday. It starts at the top, with you as the remote leader inviting others to be creative, silly and inspired.
Playful inclusions to practice:
- Team-based challenges with fun rewards (like an afternoon off)
- Allowing emojis and memes to be a part of how you communicate
- Encourage playful joking, and fun virtual surprises (like a special birthday delivery)
Studies show that playful teams are more creative, innovative and positive! If you want to make sure your remote team feels connected, this is the missing secret sauce.
4. Express Gratitude and Reward Good Work
Recognition in a remote work environment doesn't have to be a glitzy award ceremony.
Often a simple, personalized gesture hits the mark. Be creative. A remote pizza party, a heartfelt IM of thanks, or a virtual high-five – as long as it's thoughtful, it's perfect.
- Create a gamified reward grid and let workers choose their reward
- Practice appreciation in the forms of notes, emojis and memes
- Mention their contribution in team meetings or in the company newsletter
Who needs a plaque when you can have pizza, right? Do this on a semi-regular basis and your remote workers will feel seen and appreciated. With 79% of employees saying that recognition makes them work harder, it’s an easy habit to adopt for better team results.
5. Create a Shared Vision for Your Team
This isn’t an episode of “Lost” where everyone’s running around with no idea where they’re heading. As a remote leader, you need to co-create a clear vision with your team, ensuring everyone’s on the same page and working towards the same goal.
With 72% of people saying that they expect great leaders to be forward-looking for their teams, it’s a must-have habit to adopt.
- Make a point of saying how small tasks link to the overall goal
- Invite team members to contribute to, change or develop the vision
- Promote team values and call them out when you see them
Remote leaders often forget to keep their vision central to all weekly or monthly missions. It’s your team’s North Star so when you mention it, or use it to inspire – you’ll notice workers taking the initiative to achieve alignment without you.
6. Make Time for Social Interactions
All work and no play make your team a dull bunch. Don't be a party pooper. Make time for social interactions within your virtual work environment. Creating a sense of community and camaraderie is essential for a cohesive team.
Getting to know who you’re working with will make you a better manager. And that’s beyond the basic benefits of finding colleagues you can share your life with, and avoiding feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Take 10 minutes before you discuss work during a call to catch up
- Start a tradition of being introduced to team member’s pets
- Do a show and tell each week and share funny stories
When people get to know each other in a team environment, they feel a real sense of belonging. Make it a habit to allow room for social engagement and your remote workers will thrive.
7. Practice Adaptability in the Moment
Embrace the chaos! Yes, you read that right. As a remote team lead, you might be striving for a picture-perfect workflow where every task runs smoothly, every deadline is met, and every meeting starts on time.
But let's face reality: the world of remote work is often characterized by unexpected disruptions, tech glitches, and time zone mix-ups. That’s okay, and as a leader you need to let your team know that plans will occasionally fall apart.
The magic lies in accepting these unexpected moments and turning them into a source of flexibility, creativity, and resilience.
Successful remote managers aren't those who eliminate chaos, but those who master the art of dancing in it. They pivot, adapt, and turn every stumbling block into a stepping stone.
- Critical team member is off sick? It’s an opportunity to practice team agility
- Client isn’t happy after a call? Brief your team on what needs to change and why
- Someone isn’t performing? Ask them what has disrupted their focus and realign
Train your team to understand that a bit of chaos isn't a disaster; it's the spice that keeps the remote work life interesting and dynamic.
And there you have it - the 7 habits that make a remote leader truly exceptional.
Embrace these, and you'll not only elevate your team's productivity and happiness but also set your company on the path to success.
Remember, in the realm of remote work, being a great leader means being an innovator, a motivator, and a cheerleader. So, gear up and start shaping the future of work today.