How leadership development can thrive in a world of remote working

Remote working is here to stay

Remote working has been thrust into the spotlight by the COVID 19 coronavirus outbreak, but the trend towards flexible working patterns is long established.

In the UK, the number of remote workers has increased by over a quarter of a million in the last decade and nearly 50% of people now work from home at least one day a week.

Effective development of leaders in a remote working environment is a significant challenge for many organisations. Whilst online learning is well established for processes and systems, effective leadership development requires a different approach. Rather than following set rules, effective leadership is about responding appropriately to different situations, incorporating logic and emotion, and delivering effective business outcomes in a constantly shifting environment.

Of course, there are already effective methods for improving leadership skills. The majority of programmes involve a combination of workshops, coaching, action learning, and collaborative work-based projects. These approaches have proven effectiveness, but are often reliant on bringing people together physically.

In a world where people are working remotely, through choice or otherwise, what should we do?

5 point plan for effective remote leadership development

1. Focus on what works

Identify the approaches that are readily suited to a remote environment such as coaching and action learning and put these at the centre of your programme. Whilst other approaches like workshops can be adapted to a remote environment, be prepared for them to take a supporting, rather than central role.

2. Use existing technology

There are a multitude of existing business tools that can easily utilised in a leadership development programme. Find ways to incorporate what you already have rather than invest in novelty technology. Tools such as Skype, Zoom, Slack, Teams and Yammer can all be used to educate, communicate and collaborate.

3. Break boundaries

One of the major benefits of remote working is that it allows the creation of truly diverse teams. Embrace and reflect this in your learning programmes by bringing people together from across different departments, locations and time zones.

4. Go little and often

Team engagement and bonding in a remote environment is highly sensitive to the frequency of interactions. Build your programme around short, regular activities and don’t leave long gaps between tasks and communications.

5. Seek specialists

Effective remote leadership development requires facilitators with specialist skills and knowledge. By partnering with an organisation that has specific experience in remote development, you can be assured of faster, more effective results.


If you have any questions about implementing remote leadership development in your organisation, book a FREE discovery call with one of the VMAX team.

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