Employees working from home face an uncertain future where leadership is more important than ever. Donatella De Paoli, Associate Professor from the Department of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at BI Norwegian Business School, considers the current work environment a social experiment we can all learn from.
Many are increasingly working from home, and adapting our working habits and businesses with screens means they have become a necessary part of communication and connection.
Professor De Paoli has outlined five tips for how leaders can effectively lead their teams when working remotely during this global pandemic:
- Focus on Relationships – Working from home requires leadership which places importance on good relationships and is based on trust. The focus should be on how the team can get along: good dialogue is vital as well as understanding how people are coping mentally.
- Adapt the Level of Control – Leaders need to use the right levels of control with remote team members. There are two main approaches for leaders working digitally: one more controlling and the other more accepting of autonomy. The most appropriate approach depends on the work; short deadlines might require more control, while work with more relaxed deadlines show better results with less control and greater autonomy.
- Be Present – Computer screens create distance and hamper two-way communication in meetings. The quality of communication also declines as we cannot read body language through a computer screen. Turning on your video camera can ensure you are more present and focused in virtual meetings.
- Vary the Means of Communication – One-way communication through email works for keeping the organisation up-to-date, but leadership aimed at building relationships requires two-way dialogue. Use digital platforms which enable informal social interaction, experiment with new ways to communicate and do not be afraid to be personal.
- Co-create Leadership – De Paoli states leadership is co-created: effective leadership includes making it clear that every person is responsible for ensuring tasks are completed. When we are physically isolated from each other, team member must engage in greater self-management.
If companies are to succeed during and after the pandemic, traditional and centralised views of leadership must be replaced. The coronavirus pandemic will affect how leadership is understood and practiced, now and in the future. This advice will help leaders coordinate effective teams while working from home and maximise productivity.