Leading a distributed team

How can you lead a team at a distance, when leadership happens in the moment and in the place? You do it by taking the moment and the place into the online digital world. By creating situations, places, venues, interactions that are completely online, where everybody can participate from wherever they are and whenever they can.

It is asynchronous communication. You are not there necessarily in the same moment, but it becomes a moment for you, when you communicate. And it becomes a moment for the other person, when he or she participates and sees or listens or reads.

This way when your team members experience you as a leader, they know that it’s a human being with emotions, with passions, with the drive, focus and instructions. This they can sympathize and empathize with and disagree with. All of this happens online.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Leading a distributed team is at the same time very very challenging and extremely rewarding, because it works.

People come to me and say, how can you lead a team at a distance when leadership happens in the moment and in the place? I say, you do it by taking the moment and taking the place into the online digital world. By creating situations, places, venues, interactions that are completely online and where everybody can participate from wherever they are. And also typically, whenever they can. So, it’s asynchronous communication. You are not there necessarily in the same moment, but it becomes a moment for you when you communicate and a moment for the other person, when he or she participates in it and sees it or listens to it or reads it.

So, I believe that as a leader of a distributed team, you have to go all in online.

You have to make sure that whatever your leadership mechanisms are in the physical world are translated into the digital world. You have to show your personality, intentions, strengths and weaknesses online and show that you have immersed yourself with the online world.

When you do that, it’s easier for, it’s actually easy for your team members to see who you are, to understand your priorities, follow your guidelines, engage with you, challenge you, question you, understand you, ask questions. You do this by using whatever digital online tools you can find. They can be expensive ones, cheap ones, complex ones, simple ones, but you use as much as you need.

It can be email, IRC, it can be video conferencing, instant messaging. Whatever it is that allows you to bring your whole self into the online world. So that your team members, when they experience you, they know that it’s a human being with emotions, with passions, with the drive, with focus, with instructions. And then they can sympathize and empathize with it, disagree with it and all of that happens online.

That’s how you lead a distributed team and you can do it across long distances and you can do it across time zones.

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