Historically, the world has only become more digitally-driven. We’re seeing remote digital teams now more than ever as global barriers to the world economy are lifting, especially after the impact of the pandemic.
The team, the moment, and the space are all here; now the magic of crafting a traditional digital or “tradigital” community that stands the test of time begins…
Authenticity in leadership is mission-critical. As we further integrate our digital work and home lives, showing up as our full, true selves lends itself to trust and as a result, commitment, connection, and productivity. Work is not only a place where we meet deadlines, it’s how we spend most of our life.
Inevitably, our connection with our teammates feeds into conversations outside of work hours and enters our thoughts during the most random times. When we can foster our full being and support authenticity without fear of stereotypes is where empowerment thrives.
Encourage showing up in all the ways without fear. A teammate may worry, “If I’m too upbeat, I may be seen as unrealistic, versus as a discerning strategist.” In this example, we must remember that two things can be true at once.
Employ Quality Listening
Quality listening starts by “walking the halls” in this remote work world. “Boots on the ground”-type individuals often make the best leaders, but virtual work has turned traditional leadership on its head.
Endless perspectives, connections, and building of bonding beliefs can be found anywhere. Speak directly with as many team members as you can, including your direct reports, superiors, and team members outside your direct sphere.
Actively acknowledging bids for attention builds strong teams. Everyone wants to be seen and heard. Take the time to proactively strengthen your perception awareness and book time to meet with team members across your organization.
Taking the time to listen and acknowledge your team member’s bids for attention lends itself to situational leadership.
What’s most inspiring and illuminating for one team member may have the opposite effect on another. This is why quality listening through acknowledging bids for attention is essential, particularly for a global remote company.
Curiosity is the cure. As Rumi said, “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” There are no bad ideas in brainstorming. In this stage, the importance of saying yes vs. no is to keep ideas percolating.
The word “no” shuts down the creative process in the brain and the best idea may not even be “on the board” yet. Cultivating this sense of wonder also makes work feel like play again. Good brainstorming sessions should truly be feel-good sessions; the time for weighing decisions comes later during a strategic stage.
Encouraging ongoing learning is also critical to maintaining a culture of innovation and curiosity, which is why we invest in and follow trends in learning and development at Hennessey Digital. We proudly invest in continuing education for our team, as the Finance team thrived together at a continuing education conference this past summer.
“Over-functioning” refers to consistently executing rather than consistently coaching. Avoid over-functioning as a leader because this enables under-functioning in your team.
As a leader, your goal is to engage your team so that they can elevate their own skills. Asking questions before giving answers or directives is a proven way to create long term skill growth.
Asking “What do you think is important here?”, “What do you think is possible here?” and “How would you approach this task?” are a few intentional frameworks to inspire critical and strategic thinking on even the smallest of decisions.
Coach Your Team Through Mistakes
Coaching people through their mistakes is powerful. Accountability can feel like an attack when a team member may not be equipped to own their own role and appropriately pivot.
This is why it is important as a leader to cultivate honesty and without fear of owning their mistakes. This way, at least there will be a takeaway in creating a solution for future-proofing.
Learning through the sensory pain of a mistake already stings. As they say, “a minute of pain lasts longer than an hour of glory.” During a hard day, remember to encourage the concept that it’s just a tough error, not a terrible performance, so you can grow through the mistake together.
Leaving project timelines open-ended could amplify needless worry and divert productivity on other important tasks. And similar to how water takes the shape of any container it’s in, Parkinson’s Law stipulates that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
It’s tick-tock (not TikTok) on timelines for teams. When delegating to team members, always propose specific time parameters on projects, especially new or ad hoc projects. In support of this, research has shown providing tighter timelines, with perfectionist slack, increases throughput.
A simple statement such as “spend about two hours or less on this and let’s review it next Tuesday” gives information on the level of priority on the project and how detailed the deliverable should be.
Mitigate Unforced Errors
Prove yourself wrong before putting a stake in the ground. We do this to mitigate any unforced errors on our part, not to say an idea shouldn’t be implemented.
It’s important to always ask yourself, “What are we missing? and “What if we’re wrong?” so the team can adjust and iterate on an idea. This is the strategic stage that follows the brainstorming stage, and it’s an important long game skill to encourage in your team.
If you further entrench yourself in your own opinions by trying to only prove yourself right, this often leads to short-sighted outcomes. Janet Yellen, the first woman treasury secretary, goes by this as well, steadfast in her belief that the ability to build consensus around these two questions is critical.
Lay Your Cards on the Table
Allow people in to improve on your own growth goals as a leader. Be transparent in what you as a leader are improving on within yourself and your work.
Vulnerability and awareness of our own areas of improvement build towards the concept of a “we” rather than “you vs me.” It highlights that we are equally invested in improvement and it’s not a top down one way directive.
As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It could be said that creating a functioning global remote team isn’t sustainable, but we’ve been proving that wrong at Hennessey Digital since 2015.
Take these core traditional leadership skills and consistently foster them in your team to craft a strong culture in a virtual work environment that stands the test of time.
(And the cover image for this post is of me, CFO Michele Patrick, Senior Director of People Success Jill Wenk, and Senior Director of Marketing Cindy Kerber Spellman. Because we’ve intentionally cultivated “tradigital” leadership consistently, we love getting together in person whenever we can, like we did in St. Louis for dinner!)