Leading From A Distance: Co-working during the time of COVID-19
Being a leader in today’s climate certainly has its challenges. Ever since we began our working lives, we associate what we do with where we do it. Now, even in the most field-present jobs, structures have changed and many business owners, managers, and employees need to find new, innovative ways to be at the forefront of their business, paving the way and empowering new and experienced employees.
We have spent decades using a system that involved both direction and presence for the training and development of staff. While that has since been the norm, we are now tasked as leaders to develop a new way to lead, but with more distance in between us. For some, we are learning how to use technologies or telecommuting models that were essentially inconceivable before 2020. Models that were once just the purview of philosophers such as Malcolm McLuhan and Noam Chomsky have to settled to where the rubber meets the road. These ways are now a new set of best practices, and mastering them will be the best way to support our teams so that our businesses and employees thrive in this new age.
Here are 4 ways to be an effective leader, co-working and managing from a distance during the time of COVID-19 and beyond.
Contact your team members regularly, and continue to build and maintain individualized relationships with them. For virtual communication, ensure you are in an environment with few distractions. People can tell when you are not focused, attentive, or present in the moment. Effective team leaders take initiative, which means reaching out and communicating with colleagues. Show your team that they matter and that you are still in touch even when you can’t physically be in the same place.
Times of upheaval and uncertainty have a funny way of prompting the natural leaders among us to grow from the most unlikely beginnings. Often, some of the best leaders on a team come from off of the frontlines, and in times where things are changing, they remain a stable force to rely on. These leaders know the job like the back of their hand and are excellent resources to new staff and upper-level management. Trusting your team and empowering them to suggest and make changes can help you take your business next level. Ensure everyone has the resources they need to be as autonomous as possible while staying connected to each other for support. Lastly, assure them of your confidence, and celebrate their successes – everyone is always appreciative of a virtual pat on the back.
While we may not be able to pile into a conference room or go out to celebrate accomplishments, it is still essential to connect frequently. Holding regular virtual meetings to keep everyone informed on any updates to rules, regulations, or practices that may be changing is an excellent way to keep everyone on the same page, and ensure no onesies left behind. This is also an excellent platform for team-building exercises that you may want to incorporate into ongoing training or communication.
With so many aspects of our lives going virtual or online, it is important to make sure that your team has both the tools and knowledge to proceed with confidence. This may mean setting up extra training for any people who may not be as technologically inclined, as many different programs or devices have a learning curve. Encourage training and offer help to anyone who may need a bit of extra time to master this new skillset.
Of course, we all remember the shock and trepidation as our comprehension of this ‘new normal’ began to take hold. Even the most mundane and commonplace practices and social habits are now altered almost beyond recognition. As much as it may seem like a new world, it is equally true that when faced with a challenge, however daunting, the resilience and adaptability of leadership has arisen from every quarter of our economy and civil society. Unlike thirty years ago, we now have access to high-speed bandwidth and broadcast-quality video in our homes. We can communicate one-on-one with employees or in a group, in real-time or recorded and shared at any time it is needed. This is the context of a new leadership paradigm. A new paradigm with the same objectives, skills, and insights that have taken us all this way.
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