Remote Leadership Development: Advancing as a Remote Team Manager
Follow this 3-step game plan to sharpen your leadership skills, prove your management prowess, & chart your career progression like a pro.
Remote leadership development unlocks a new frontier of opportunities to further your career.
Whether you’re aspiring to become a virtual team leader or advancing as a remote team manager, you’ll score the time and space to hone your skills, pick up new ones, and tap into your unlimited potential for growth.
Gone are the days when leadership was confined to corner offices and annoying micromanaging methods.
With the world as their workspace, remote leaders now orchestrate a symphony of talents across the globe. They achieve great things by trusting, empowering, and inspiring their teams. And climbing this career ladder is both professionally fulfilling and potentially lucrative.
So in this blog, we’ll explore the best strategies, practical tips, and essential tools to guide your remote leadership journey to greatness!
Remote Leadership Development: 3 Steps To Unlock Your Full Potential
How does remote work impact career progression?
Without a commute dragging you down and the ability to create your own personal WFH schedule, you have more time to devote to professional and personal development. The more you invest in your career, the greater your returns.
Our three-step game plan for remote leadership development will help you prove you have what it takes to manage high-performing remote teams and reach your professional goals.
So let’s begin with:
Step 1: Sharpen Your Remote Leadership Skills
What makes a leader successful in a remote environment? Influential remote leaders typically have strong:
Virtual Communication Skills
Virtual communication skills are the backbone of remote leadership. To flex your communication muscles:
- Always keep your team in the loop. The best asynchronous communication tools and workflows make this task a breeze.
- Set clear expectations. Provide as much detail as possible for someone to give you their best work and know what’s expected of them.
- Be available. Make sure everyone knows you’re just a message, email, or call away — and that they can always reach you before a situation spirals to emergency level.
- Learn how to lead effective virtual meetings. Touch base weekly to keep your team engaged and aligned with its goals.
- Establish regular 1:1s to check in. You’ll build rapport with employees, address challenges head-on, discuss their career goals, get to know them personally, and more.
To take these skills to the next level, check out our guides on how to improve remote work communication with your team and upgrade your remote collaboration.
The top remote companies prize employees who display high emotional intelligence in the workplace, and there’s a good reason for that. As AI and automation take over more day-to-day tasks, the future of work will require professionals with stellar people skills.
The pillars of emotional intelligence include:
- Self-awareness. You recognize how your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and values impact your decisions, interactions, and communication with your team, and strive to make more thoughtful choices.
- Empathy. Actively listening to your team members, validating their emotions, and demonstrating that you care about their well-being and career goals.
- Self-motivation. Your positive attitude and dedication to achieving shared goals make your team more likely to follow suit. Driven, highly motivated, focused, and enthusiastic teams are unstoppable.
- Self-regulation. Managing your emotions allows you to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively. You remain composed during stressful situations, set a positive example for your team, and make well-considered decisions even in challenging circumstances.
- Social skills. Communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and relationship-building enable you to connect, facilitate productive meetings, and create a virtual work environment where honest, open dialogue is encouraged.
Psst! Raise the bar on everyone’s emotional IQ with these inclusive workplace practices for your remote team!
Remote leaders have to be extra vigilant about how their employees cope with the challenges of working remotely. To be more attentive:
- Ensure everyone follows a healthy work-life balance.
- Always support mental health in the remote workplace.
- Learn the signs of burnout and how to help employees reset.
- Encourage your team to request time off and actually take it.
- Be approachable, open-minded, and available.
Attentive leaders take a proactive approach to prevent minor issues from snowballing into major obstacles that hinder productivity, blow deadlines, and cause strife.
The remote work game is all about flexibility.
With the freedom to work how they’re most productive to meet deadlines, you may have a combination of morning larks and night owls on your team. Some employees may prefer connecting via messaging apps; others will happily video chat.
A good remote leader knows how to get the best out of their employees and adjusts their approaches according to their team’s preferences.
Skip the employee spyware and trust that your team is giving 110% to their work outcomes.
Trust is the cornerstone of any successful remote team and the glue that binds you. To show your confidence in their abilities:
- Delegate tasks.
- Let employees work autonomously.
- Empower employees to take the lead on projects, meetings, etc.
- Give constructive, actionable feedback.
- Make employees feel seen, heard, respected, included, and valued.
- Offer support, guidance, and additional resources to help them thrive.
Your team’s trust in you makes them more comfortable approaching you with concerns, creative ideas, and transparent feedback. This trust allows you to conquer potential issues before they escalate, prevent disruptions, and keep the work train chugging along the tracks.
Master these remote leadership skills, and you’ll be ready for:
Step 2: Prove You Can Manage Remote Teams
How can a manager effectively lead people remotely?
It may be challenging to balance managing yourself while supporting your remote teams when you first step up to the plate.
But if you follow these best practices for managing remote teams, you’ll find your stride, connect with your employees, and put your leadership skills on full display:
Start With Goal Alignment
Building on the importance of value alignment, goal alignment helps you and your team navigate toward a shared vision together. It aligns your team’s efforts with the bigger picture, which is *hopefully* a mission they believe in.
Motivation, engagement, and productivity soar when everyone understands the “why” behind their tasks. So to put this into practice:
- Craft a compelling narrative about how your team’s work contributes to the company’s success.
- Set clear objectives, project milestones, and deadlines.
- Track each employee’s progress using key performance indicators and follow up with feedback about their work.
Harness the Power of a Robust Tech Stack
Remote team management tools streamline workflows and enhance collaboration. They can transform your team’s efficiency and make working across different time zones a mere technicality.
Every remote tech stack should include a:
- Project management platform
- Team messenger
- Video conferencing solution
- Shared document hub/knowledge base/workspace
Pack your virtual toolbox with this cloud-based software, and you’ll be able to organize tasks, communicate asynchronously, and keep everyone on the same page (without distracting anyone from deep, focused work).
Make Time & Room for Team-Building & Connection
Teams that bond together work better together. They understand each other, play to each other’s strengths, feel more comfortable communicating, and aren’t afraid to bring their authentic self to work. All those perks translate to extraordinary outcomes.
To encourage more social bonding:
- Try these non-cheesy team-building tips for remote employees.
- Schedule fun virtual activities like online trivia, virtual coffee breaks, virtual watch parties, Jackbox Games, or even virtual escape rooms.
- Create informal, non-work-related chat channels for employees to connect on a light-hearted, more personal level.
Studies show that people who make genuine friends at work perform at a higher level, have greater job satisfaction, and feel more loyal and invested in the company. These social interactions are a low-key way to retain remote talent.
Plus, they’re an excellent strategy to combat the potential loneliness and isolation many remote workers struggle with.
Encourage Professional Development & Career Growth
When you speak with your team about their professional development, you help them envision their future with you and your organization. Sharpening their skills improves your team overall, which empowers you to achieve more goals.
To inspire your crew to invest in their remote careers:
- Share resources and book recommendations that helped you.
- Discuss the options HR offers to help employees grow while working from home.
- Follow these tips to support career growth for remote employees.
Proactively ask about your employees’ career goals and check in on their progress during your 1:1s.
Recognize, Appreciate, & Celebrate Wins
Don’t let your team’s hard work go unnoticed. Every achievement, milestone, and wrapped project deserves a virtual high-five. To make everyone feel valued and motivated:
- Shout-out employees during team chats and video calls
- Send company-wide kudos to highlight your team’s victories
- Hold a virtual celebration after a big project wraps
- Always say thank you
You’ll not only uplift spirits and strengthen team bonds, but show your employees that you see and value their hard work. That’s the foundation of building a strong culture with a remote team.
Remote work is continually evolving, and so should your leadership style. So keep adapting to new technologies, trends, and best practices to stay ahead of the curve and progress in your career.
Which brings us to your final task:
Step 3: Chart Your Path for Remote Career Progression
As we mentioned earlier, working remotely is good for career building because you can leverage the time typically spent commuting to upskill and reskill, network, and boost your chances of landing a promotion.
Even better news?
Climbing the virtual management ladder leads to some of the highest-paying remote jobs.
Here’s a typical career progression (including average salary ranges!) for remote leaders:
- Remote Team Manager ($55,000 to $130,000): Responsible for overseeing a team of remote employees, ensuring they meet their goals, managing their performance, and maintaining effective communication.
- Senior Remote Team Manager ($90,000 to $150,000): Take on more complex projects, manage larger teams, and strategically shape remote team management processes.
- Remote Department Manager ($110,000 to $180,000): Coordinate and align the efforts of multiple remote teams, set departmental goals, and work closely with other departments to achieve overall company objectives.
- Remote Director or Head of Operations ($140,000 to $250,000): Oversee and contribute to company-wide strategies for remote work and collaborate with top-level executives to ensure remote teams are integrated effectively to achieve the company’s mission.
- Vice President or C-Level Roles ($180,000 to $350,000+): Drive remote work strategies across the entire organization, focusing on innovation, optimizing remote processes, and championing a culture of remote excellence.
Not too shabby, right?
Follow these tips to level up your remote career today:
Invest In Continuous Learning
Remote leadership development is an ongoing process. The more you invest in yourself, the better you’ll be at guiding your remote team to success and picking up promotions along the way.
Continuous learning helps you prepare for the future of work, enhances your abilities, and sets a positive example for your team members.
So enroll in remote leadership training programs that allow you to learn at your own pace and offer a shareable certificate you can display on your resume, LinkedIn profile, website, etc.
GitLab even offers a free course, “How To Manage a Remote Team,” on Coursera. It covers a holistic, in-depth analysis of best practices for remote managers and leaders and only takes 10 hours to complete.
Find a Mentor & Expand Your Network
Mentorships offer the opportunity to learn how others in your position have triumphed in the face of similar challenges. So connect with other remote leaders, either within or outside your organization. Their experiences will provide invaluable insights and shortcuts to success.
Similarly, virtual networking opportunities will help you engage with leaders across industries. Their diverse perspectives may spark innovative solutions and illuminate some of the hurdles you may encounter (and how to conquer them).
Push yourself to reach out to new people, attend webinars, and participate in online leadership forums to strengthen your network.
Ready To Land Your Dream Remote Team Manager Job?
The sky’s the limit when it comes to your remote leadership goals!
Demonstrate consistent results with your team, refine your management skills, commit to continuous learning, and prioritize relationship-building to accelerate your career growth.
Remember that each challenge is an opportunity, and every success is a testament to your leadership prowess.
If you’re not first in line for a promotion, it may be time to steer your ship to new seas. We Work Remotely is the #1 remote job board to find incredible jobs for your expertise.
You can even use our resume builder to improve your remote job search and land your dream role ASAP. So go ahead and take the lead on your career now! 🚀
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