114-Day 1 as a Distance Leader

 
 
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  • Show up. I know this may be self-explanatory, but you want your first days in your new role to emphasize and model your very best behavior as a leader.
    • Leadership takes time to grow, but treating others with respect is always a great first step.
    • A mass email may be useful, at first, but quickly move to in-person meetings so your team members can see you and hear your enthusiasm. Whether it’s web conferencing, phone calls, or recorded presentations, this is an opportunity to set the stage for strong communications.
    • Just because YOU may be a successful virtual worker or leader doesn’t make your boss or employee immediately effective. Your bosses and your team members may not understand what it takes to be an effective distance employee or distance leader.
    • When having discussions with your team members, model the behavior you expect:
      • Attention. When you are speaking with that person, you are not using your computer or half-heartedly carrying your side of the conversation. Give your employees your full attention. Builds rapport, respect, trust, and continued communication.
      • Meaningful dialogue. Have an agenda for your initial conversations. Use questions about work and workflow, but also tell your team a bit about you, too. Keep it light, informative, and positive.
      • Interpersonal support. Make supporting your employees a priority, both in word and deed. As a leader, your job is to remove obstacles for them to accomplish their work.
      • Consideration of other ideas. Over time, you can start discussing some of the ideas that you would like to bring to the team and the role. This is not for Day 1, but probably Month 1.
      • Focus. Like attention, being focused means that you are responsive and available when necessary at work. Whether it is during individual meetings, small group conversations, or larger presentations, do your best to demonstrate behaviors that indicate that you are prepared and considerate of others’ responsibilities and expectations.
      • Business goals. Revisit your team’s goals with each person individually, and ask how they see themselves contributing to the team goals.
  • Day 1 strategies:
    • Schedule in-person opportunities to work together
    • Begin the collaborative dialogue in one-on-one conversations
    • Be aware that employees are often nervous with new leadership, so use your understanding of the team to address concerns
    • Use video whenever possible
    • Make individual and small-group meetings a priority in the few few weeks
    • Focus on team and organizational goals
    • Share best practices but be open to current practices
    • Provide opportunity for informal feedback (“office hours,” responsiveness, and solicitation for advice)