How to lead without leaving home
Key leadership takeaways from Candace Giesbrecht, Director, Teamit Remote Performance Academy
Of all the changes brought on by the pandemic, the shift to remote work may have been one of the most universally impactful on many of our day-to-day lives. When it first hit in March of 2020, a small part of our team was already working from home. But transitioning our entire team remote, and ensuring our Builders felt supported through such uncertainty was no small feat. Bold's approach included training opportunities for our leaders, and further providing the tools and resources they needed to successfully lead their teams. These efforts wouldn't have been possible without the help of Teamit and their Remote Performance Academy. Two years later, we're still (mostly) working from home, with a distributed team across Canada and parts of the U.S., and continuing to lean into many of the lessons we've learned along the way.
Known as one of Western Canada's leading recruiting and talent strategy companies, Teamit brings extensive expertise in recruitment, technology, and HR, delivering exceptional education and programming tailored to high-performing technical teams. Their Remote Performance Academy includes a series of assessments, coaching, and action-planning designed to cultivate and sustain high-performing teams.
As the Director of Teamit's Remote Performance Academy, Candace Giesbrecht uses her 20+ years of experience and passion for connecting people and building stronger teams. She is focused on guiding companies, leaders and employees in cultivating high-performing remote teams. Here, she shares five key pieces of advice that anyone currently in (or working towards) a leadership role in a remote or distributed environment can put into action.
Invest in relationships with the people you work with.
Many aspects of effective leadership rely on the quality of our relationships. When we work in a co-located work environment, there are organic opportunities every day to build relationships and to get to know one another. When we're working in distributed environments, it's important to be intentional about creating ways to foster relationships with our team members and opportunities for them to connect back in with us. Lead the way by sharing small things about yourself and your life outside of work and take an interest in learning about who your team is outside of work, too.
Ask for feedback.
There are many aspects of distributed leadership that require additional or different skills than what we need when we work face-to-face. Here are some questions to consider asking your team:
Then, take action on the responses. By doing this, you're building trust, which is critical in leadership.
- How can we use our meeting time more effectively?
- Are you getting the support you need in order to do your best work?
- Do you have access to the tools you need?
- Do you have clarity about what's expected of you and about how your work contributes to the success of the business?
Invest in your own productivity.
Leading from a distance requires organization and a commitment to finding new and better ways of working. Regularly take time to research and understand new features of the technologies you have access to. You may be surprised by the improvements that have been added to tools you use every day. Whether it's your team's messaging app (e.g. Slack, MS Teams), your email program, or calendar platforms, companies have been racing to improve the functionality of their products over the last couple of years. Consider committing 30 minutes a month to research new features of the tools you have. Small gains can quickly turn into big gains in productivity.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to leading people; our careers are just one part of our lives. The ideal work day for one person may or may not work for someone else, so it's important to be flexible when possible. Encourage your team to identify what will help them achieve work-life balance and support them in taking those steps. Everyone has unique living situations, preferences, and learning styles. Be clear about the expectations you have that are non-negotiables and extend trust to your team members to identify when and how to get the work done.
Relentlessly lead yourself first.
“Self-leadership is the practice of understanding who you are, identifying your desired experiences, and intentionally guiding yourself toward them. It spans the determination of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it.” Before considering, “what does my team need to be doing right now?” ask yourself, “what do I need to be prioritizing and investing my time in?” Pausing long enough to ask yourself these questions is a discipline that can transform your leadership impact and effectiveness. Don't forget, good self-leadership means also prioritizing good self-care. You won't be effective in your leadership if you're exhausted and burnt out.
For many organizations, including Bold, the future of work will look like some combination of remote, in-office, and hybrid work. For leaders, it's imperative to continuously look to understand and evolve with the changing needs of your team and invest in resources that better support them. For employees, it's crucial to seek out opportunities that inspire you to be your best both inside and outside of work.