The challenges of remote leadership and their possible solutions

The challenge of managing remote teams is likely to be as old as the history of civilization itself. The Roman Empire had its governors in charge of its provinces. The proliferation of the English, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies required the management of remote teams in America, Africa, or Asia.

Similarly, multinationals have been managing remote teams for years. In addition, the increasing globalization of the economy only increases the need to create more and more remote links with customers, suppliers, business partners or employees.

Leading remote teams, therefore, is not something new, but the increase in this way of working after the global Covid-19 pandemic is spectacular, as well as the possibilities that new technologies offer us.

The dynamics of relationships with remote teams depends on the nature of that relationship, although the challenges and possible solutions to them are similar.

A direct hierarchical relationship, for example the relationship between a multinational corporation and those responsible for a subsidiary in a distant country, is not the same as the relationship between two colleagues who are part of a regional or global project and have a relationship of peers or colleagues.

The most frequent remote relationship is that of an employee with his or her boss. The digitization of the economy allows a large number of people to perform roles and tasks out of their own homes in very remote locations and with no one from the company present for miles around. The consequences will be very interesting from different points of view, for example, the decongestion of large cities, wages, the labor legislation that applies, or the access of talent from third world countries to leading companies.

The biggest challenges for leading remote teams are: combining control and empowerment, making communication fluid and interesting, solving operational issues, getting the right way to create commitment, knowing how to create more mutual trust, avoiding some cognitive distortions, and ultimately, find an effective way to provide feedback on performance.

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