2023 is the time to take a step back and examine the challenges of working remotely, how it can be improved and whether you’re developing your leaders with remote working and inclusivity in mind.

For years, the option to work partly from home stood on the periphery of the working environment and watched on. At best, it was seen by many as an ‘easy Friday’ and a way to segue into the weekend.

Now, it’s front and centre of the way businesses all over the world operate. But three years after it was thrust upon us, it’s time to pause and reflect on whether your business is maximising the opportunity it’s provided.

Essential skills for digital leadership

Lots of managers found digital leadership tough at first. Having distributed teams seemed as though it would be like trying to herd a colony of ants – with all the workers going off in their own direction.

In truth, digital leadership requires many of the same skills as face-to-face management:

  • Clear goals and instructions: Regardless of where they are in the world, your team needs to know what is expected of them and by when.

  • Communication: Apart from setting out your expectations, you need to be checking in with employees from time to time and ensuring you’re available for them to contact you. Establish a standard method of communication and respond in a timely manner.

  • Trust: This came easier in a physical workplace when you could see people. But if you set clear goals, facilitate two-way communication and support your team members to develop their skills, you can have faith in their ability to work autonomously.

  • Inclusion: It’s well-documented that teams work best when they have a shared goal and a sense of camaraderie.  And this hasn’t changed. It’s part of human nature – and it’s something leaders need to be conscious of. Virtual coffees, games and Slack rooms or chatting about things other than work can all help unite the team and ensure people feel part of something bigger.

Digital leadership is about combining the best parts of the physical workplace and using them to enhance the benefits of remote working for employees:

  • More autonomy
  • Less travelling time
  • Better work life balance

Inclusivity in a distributed workforce

This is not a new term in the workplace, but there is an argument to say that how we interpret inclusion in the workplace has changed in recent years.

At its core, it remains the role of leaders to ensure that every person in the workforce is treated fairly, has barriers to inclusion removed and feels comfortable to be themselves.

Workplace inclusion should be part of the culture. And it’s the responsibility of business leaders to create and demonstrate that culture. For those who have successfully implemented an inclusive culture into their business already, this means getting to the heart of what they have done and ensuring it is applied to distributed teams.

For example, individuals can easily feel that they’re not part of the team because they’re in a different geographical location, aren’t confident with tech and so feel left out, or are new to the team and find it hard to bond with people they haven’t met.

The specific challenges facing your leaders will differ according to the makeup of the team and working practices. It’s important, therefore, to ensure your leaders are equipped with the right techniques to implement the essential skills for digital leadership as laid out above.

In addition, they should be able to detect signs that somebody is struggling or feeling disengaged. Once again, these were clearer in a physical working environment but are no less important when working with distributed teams.

Preparing leaders for success in digital leadership

The ability to lead from afar may not come naturally, even to experienced managers. But if they possess the right core competencies, it can be learned.

Richmond provides Skills Coaches to help leaders understand the nuances of digital leadership. Often, small tweaks to the way distributed team managers operate can have a huge impact on output and productivity.

All our training packages are completely bespoke and built around the needs of each client. To talk to us about tailored training built around modern trends in leadership, call today on 01244 344322 or enquire online.

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