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  • Writer's pictureAnn-Marie Collins

The Manager's Guide to Remote Leadership: Be an Enabler, Not an Enforcer

As organizations increasingly embrace remote work, it is important to recognize the need for the departure from traditional enforcement-based leadership styles. Instead, we need to advocate for a shift towards being an enabler – fostering a culture that promotes collaboration, engagement, and success in virtual environments. 

Remote leadership requires a special set of skills, with a focus on trust, proactive coaching, well-defined expectations, effective communication, and the occasional in-person meeting. Let’s breakdown the fundamental ideas that enable managers to lead from a distance, creating an environment where trust is paramount, teams prosper, and individuals develop. 

Remote Online Meeting

Trust: The Foundation of Effective Leadership 

As a manager, our paramount duty is to nurture and uphold this fundamental core value, for without trust, the intricate machinery of our operations is destined to malfunction. 


Research highlights the profound impact of trust on workplace dynamics, revealing that organizations ranking in the top quartile of trust witness exceptional results compared to those in the lower quartile. A culture steeped in trust correlates with a remarkable 50% increase in productivity, demonstrating the pivotal role trust plays in driving success. 


Trust also affects employee loyalty and individual performance. In high-trust environments, 50% more employees' express intentions to stay with their employers over the next year. Moreover, 88% more confirm they would recommend their company as a best place to work to friends and family.

The overwhelming conclusion is that trust is an essential element and cannot be compromised. Having motivated and engaged teams is a must for any manager and establishing trust, whether it is distant or not, takes deliberate effort and a dedication to transparency.  

Leading, Not Telling: Supporting Growth in Remote Teams 

Effective remote leadership is not solely about providing ready-made solutions for our teams; it is about leading, planning, and motivating from a distance.  


The essence of true leadership lies in setting an example that inspires the best from our teams. While any manager can offer answers, those who prioritize the growth and advancement of their team members demonstrate true leadership. 


There are two key strategies you can implement to achieve remote leadership excellence and enhance your team’s capabilities:  

1. Coach the Employee to Think Proactively: 

Adopting a coaching mindset is a hallmark of skilled managers. These leaders go beyond traditional management roles, actively promoting proactive thinking within their teams. This entails providing support in anticipating potential challenges, critically analyzing situations, and empowering team members to devise solutions independently. By instilling and nurturing this proactive mindset, managers play a pivotal role in equipping their teams with the confidence to navigate the complexities of work with resilience and self-assurance. 


2. Ask Thoughtful Questions: 

In the remote leadership arena leverage a strategic approach by posing thoughtful questions rather than providing direct answers. This deliberate strategy stimulates independent thought processes, fostering creative problem-solving among team members. Encouraging individuals to examine problems from multiple perspectives through well-crafted questions serves as a catalyst for identifying solutions organically. In doing so, we collectively guide our teams toward resolving challenges but also fostering continuous skill development. 

Setting Expectations for Success and Navigating the Remote Dialogue 

An effective enabler, embodies essential qualities crucial for remote leadership, including:  

Setting Expectations for Success 

  • Alignment with Organizational Goals: Ensuring that team priorities and guidelines align seamlessly with the broader objectives of the organization, fostering a shared vision for success. 

  • Strategic Structuring: Crafting a well-defined structure for remote work, including communication protocols, project timelines, and workflows, to promote clarity and empower team members. 

  • Empathetic Connection: Going beyond transactional interactions by engaging in routine check-ins, demonstrating genuine interest for team members' well-being, and cultivating a sense of solidarity. 

  • Feedback Mastery: Using feedback as a catalyst for improvement and acknowledgment, delivering honest and direct feedback tailored to individual preferences, thereby enhancing efficiency and team morale. 

Navigating the Remote Dialogue 

  • Strategic Communication Skills: Excelling in strategic communication foundations, adapting their approach based on the situation and choosing the right medium (Teams, Slack, email, or virtual calls) for effective conveyance of messages. 

  • Individualized Understanding: Recognizing the inadequacy of a one-size-fits-all approach, investing time in understanding individual preferences, and contributing to improved communication effectiveness and a harmonious team environment. 

  • Feedback Tailoring: Showcasing astuteness in feedback delivery by modifying their approach based on team members' preferences, turning feedback into a positive force that propels individual and group development in the unique setting of remote work. 

mind map remote leaders skillset

Face-to-Face Meetups - Bridging the Virtual Gap 

 For managers who recognize the transformative power of building personal connections and seizing the opportunity for an in-person meeting is a strategic necessity.  Beyond pixels and screens, digital platforms facilitate collaboration and communication, but they remain confined to the world of technology. Meeting in person overcomes these limitations by providing a genuine, unfiltered connection that crosses the virtual divide. 


Effective leadership requires the strategic imperative of building relationships, not just teams. In-person meetings help foster the development of close relationships that go beyond business partnerships through personal, in-depth discussions.  


The role of a manager in the dynamic world of remote leadership transcends conventional limits and calls for a nuanced strategy that incorporates personal connections, clear expectations, trust, mentoring, and effective communication. With its profound effects on employee loyalty, productivity, and engagement, trust emerges as the cornerstone. Building trust among team members is the first step towards creating a positive workplace culture. 


Effective leaders adopt a coaching mentality and go beyond traditional managerial responsibilities, promoting team members' skill development and proactive thinking. They know that being a leader means enabling people to reach their full potential rather than just telling them what to do.  

By prioritizing trust, leading with a coaching mindset, setting clear expectations, fostering strong communication, and embracing personal connections, managers become architects of success for their remote teams. The future of leadership is not limited by physical locations; rather, it flourishes in the context of flexibility, compassion, and real human connection. 


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