I’ve been privileged to lead teams in varied contexts each context has demanded a different kind of leadership and strategy. Of course, there are some universal / crossover principles that were / are relevant in all.
Back to the contexts of leadership…
One of the most unique contexts of leadership I had for about three years was leading touring teams. This meant that most of the time they were far from me. That is, there was usually a geographic divide between us.
This dynamic meant taking measures to do things to bridge that gap. The reason bridging the gap is necessary and important and worth attention is that there are things you can pick up on when you’re in the same space, physically, that you cannot when they are far.
For example, body language. You can read facial expression. “Energy” is significantly more tangible when you sit in the same room with those your work with.
I’ve been reflecting on some for the things I either did or learned on leading teams far from you. Some of the things I feel are important when leading teams that are far from you:
When leading teams far from you, you must place a high value and focus on being present when you’re with the team. When you have the opportunities to sit at the same table, eyeball to eyeball, make sure there are no distractions.
Make sure you get as much “business talk” in as possible, but always plan to have some chill and hang out time. Having deep relationships is key. This means being intentional with every second you have to connect in person.
Depending on the periods you and your team are apart, you must schedule regular retreats. Again, I don’t think I need to say more about being intentional with time spent together. This is also important especially when leading a culturally diverse team.
Regular check-ins. This is over and above emails. The next best thing after meeting in person is voice and or video. FaceTime, Skype…
Details become important the further apart you are. You will have to start giving as much detail as possible as information flows in either direction. If you are starting from scratch it will take a while to figure out exactly what details are more important that others.
I must also state that there are times we’ve deemed some details not important and it came back to bite us. Unfortunately different details for the equally different contexts are important. Sorry, I have no formula; you’ll just have to figure it out.
Truth is, even as a leader, you will get along, naturally with some faster and betters than others. When leading nowhere near you, you’re going to have to work even harder for those relationships you don’t just “automatically click” with.
Some leaders managers, and sadly so, think that work is about getting stuff done. They do so with the mentality that all you want to see or get from people is what they are supposed to deliver. Big mistake. Relationships are important because they unlock things cold, formal demands never will.
Work at building relationships. Remember the contact sessions and check-ins, very important.
[Photo Credit: shirokazan]