How to be a Remarkable Long-Distance Leader

remote leadership

Managing a Remote Team

 

More and more of us are working remotely some or all of the time. Leaders are now challenged with managing teams spread across time zones. Taking on this topic of remote leadership is Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel in their book The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.

Kevin Eikenberry is the founder of Kevin Eikenberry Group, the author of several books, and a leadership speaker. Wayne Turmel is the cofounder of the Remote Leadership Institute and also has authored numerous books.

I recently spoke with Kevin about the unique challenges of managing a remote team.

 

“Think about leadership first, location second.” –Kevin Eikenberry

 

Your latest book is The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership and your website on leadership is superbly done. Let’s start with your definition of leadership.

Thanks for the feedback! I love this question, Skip, and while there are a hundred great definitions, here is one to consider: Leadership is the actions taken to help and encourage others consistently in the direction of a desired future outcome.  It is a verb (action), not a noun (a position).  And, nothing gets better without leaders.

 

“Use technology as a tool, not as a barrier or an excuse.” –Kevin Eikenberry

 

What unique challenges do long-distance leaders have?

The obvious one is that you can’t interact with some of your people face-to-face, and you likely won’t communicate with them as often.  So that means that every interaction is important – and you should work to communicate beyond email (turn on those webcams) as much as possible.

One less obvious is that it isn’t just you and the remote team member who have to adjust.  If you are like most teams where you have a hybrid – some work together and others are remote – you have to help the whole group learn how to collaborate and communicate most effectively in this new world of work.

 

“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” -Booker T. Washington

 

Pitfalls of Long-Distance Leaders

The Mythical Leader: 7 Myths of Leadership

mythical leader

Misunderstanding Leadership

My friend Ron Edmondson is a pastor, author, blogger, and consultant. After reading his leadership book The Mythical Leader: Seven Myths of Leadership, I followed up with him to discuss the many misunderstandings people have about leadership.

 

“Leadership is influence.” -John Maxwell

 

Avoid the Boss Mentality

I often say that leadership is personal, not positional. Myth number one hits this immediately. What are some of the problems with the “boss has ruled” mentality?

I so hate the word boss. Maybe because I’ve had one and, no, I never want to be seen as one. Frankly, from a purely practical standpoint, the “boss has ruled” mentality simply doesn’t work. It might get the job done for a while, but it will wear people out over time. We don’t get the best people have to offer because they will only do what has to be done to meet the “boss’s” expectation. But, I think there is a bigger reason. It’s wrong. At least from my Biblical perspective, we are all – regardless of title or position – ultimately to be servants of others.

 

“The culture the leader creates impacts the feedback a leader receives.” -Ron Edmondson

 

Myth number two says that if you’re not hearing complaints, everyone must be happy. Tell us a little more about this observation.

I’ve learned even in the best organizations and on the healthiest teams, the leader only knows what they know. And, people may be either hesitant to share what they are really feeling for fear, or retribution or they assume the leader already knows the problems. I go through seasons, as the leader, where I’m simply getting the required things done. I’m traveling a lot. I’ve got a lot of projects on my plate. If I’m not careful, I can assume silence means agreement. I must consistently be asking good questions to make sure I know the true pulse of the organization.

 

7 Myths of Leadership

Myth 1: A position will make me a leader.

Myth 2: If I am not hearing anyone complain, everyone must be happy.

Myth 3: I can lead everyone the same way.

Myth 4: Leadership and management are the same thing.

Myth 5: Being the leader makes me popular.

Myth 6: Leaders must have charisma and be extroverts.

Myth 7: Leaders accomplish by controlling others.

 

 

How to Lead Creatives