In this article, we look at five ways to take your leadership skills to the next level while working remotely.
The sudden, enforced trend for home working that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic took a lot of companies by surprise, from the smallest local businesses to huge multinational conglomerates relying on translation and localisation services to connect with their global staff teams.
We can get an idea of the scale of the home working revolution by considering Zoom’s rapid rise to global prominence. In its first quarter earnings report for 2020, the company showed revenue growth of 169%. It also almost doubled its revenue guidance for the year.
Microsoft Teams, seemingly caught off guard, has raced to catch up, announcing in June 2020 that its maximum number of video call participants would increase from nine to 49, thus matching Zoom’s offering in terms of caller numbers.
Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ has been easier for some companies than others. The most proactive have pivoted their operations to focus less on face-to-face contact and more on online and/or delivery services. Others (Microsoft being a case in point) have faced to catch up as their competitors have boomed.
Many companies have also used the coronavirus lockdowns to review their staffing arrangements and skillsets. For managers and team leaders, this has created the chance to review and hone their leadership skills. Managing a team remotely is a different challenge to managing staff directly.
Where the manager speaks a different language than their team, and uses translation services to communicate with them, this presents some interesting challenges, but also some interesting opportunities.
Read on to find out how you can take your leadership skills to the next level while working remotely.
Translating time to leadership
What are the five leadership skills? They are communication (whether in your native tongue or via a translation agency), awareness, honesty/integrity, relationship building and innovation. The best leaders excel in all of these areas and work hard to ensure that they continue to do so. This is reflected in company structures around the world.
For many people, working from home offers a chance to be more productive than working from an office. It’s amazing what you can do simply by cutting out the daily commute and putting into practice a number of strategies geared towards more effective working from home, whether you work as a translator, a localisation specialist of anything else.
It’s not just about having more time, but also about reduced stress levels. The majority of people don’t enjoy commuting, so removing that pain point from the start and end of the day can do wonders for morale, and thus for productivity.
Communication and translation
One opportunity to take your leadership skills to the next level is the appropriate use of Skype, Zoom and other communication technologies. Speaking to your team remotely cuts some degree of nuance and body language out of the conversation, so practice your listening skills intently when talking with your team.
Whether you’re simply chatting on the phone or in a more formal meeting, with a translation professional joining you as part of a video linkup, be sure to focus carefully on what your team is saying and also what they aren’t playing.
Attentive listening is a skill that keeps on giving. Practice it regularly and you should find that when you next meet face-to-face, you’ll be in a much stronger position to communicate successfully, as well as being able to lead video calls more productively.
When it comes to awareness, seek to enhance this at every opportunity when working from home. From company priorities to how to manage talent in the work from home era, make it a daily task to learn something new or to understand something in more depth. You’ll keep your mind active and your team will certainly benefit from the results.
Awareness can relate to a whole host of issues, from company goals to current market conditions. You’ll need to keep your finger on the pulse of all of this to lead effectively, but it’s always a matter of being aware of what your individual team members are experiencing.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns are putting unprecedented strain on many people’s mental health.
Those leaders who are thriving during such unusual times are the ones who are making an additional effort to tune into their staff’s individual situations and to respond appropriately in terms of providing additional flexibility and support.
Translate honesty/integrity and respect
If you want people to follow where you lead, trust plays a key part. Being honest and acting with integrity is the basis for building trust. When it comes to home working, why not work on these elements of your leadership by having a frank conversation with your staff about home working?
With people locked down at home in different family situations and with different national restrictions in place around the world, you have the chance to introduce flexibility around working hours like never before.
Be honest with your staff about valuing their output more than their timekeeping and you’ll likely see that approach translate into a greater respect for your position as team leader as a result.
This kind of team building through trust can be highly effective when it comes to productivity. There are eight key elements to effective team development:
- Clear goal setting;
- Decision-making authority;
- Effective leadership;
- Training and development;
- Resource provision;
- Organisational support; and
- Rewards for team success.
How do you lead a team? By combining all of the above and by being consistent with your application of each element. While working from home, you can frame your interactions with your staff around these eight principles and thus enhance your relationship with your team.
This applies whether your team members are working remotely just a few streets away or locked down halfway around the world and communicating with you through a translation service. Either way, be consistent and use these elements to strengthen the working relationship.
Innovation and localisation
We started this article by talking about how the most proactive companies have pivoted their services in order to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most inspirational leaders have also done so, using working from home to feed their capacity for innovation.
From the way you run your department to the way you communicate with staff, it’s time to innovate. What changes can you make to the working day to benefit your team while also maintaining (if not actively enhancing) productivity?
Times are a-changin’, so there’s plenty of scope to focus on your company culture as you embrace remote working. One aspect of doing this if you work with teams around the globe is to incorporate localisation into the way that you interact with your employees.
How do you connect with your staff in ways that fit with their particular cultural expectations and what more could you do in this respect? Translation is about more than just language, so if you’re using a translation service to connect with your team, be sure to include localisation in all that you do.
Doing so can help you foster deeper connections with your team by reaching out to them on a cultural level as well as a business level.
We’ve included five ideas above about how you can take your leadership skills to the next level while working from home. How do you demonstrate leadership skills? By always striving to learn more and to put your newfound wisdom into practice, and by focusing on working for your team as well as having your team work for you.
At the time of writing, more people are working at home than ever. By mid-June 2020, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the globe were in excess of 7.77 million. The pandemic has taken the world in its grip like no other in living memory.
Clearly, an increased rate of home working is going to be around for the foreseeable future, not just due to the lockdowns that are being used to fight the spread of the coronavirus, but because companies and their staff are beginning to grasp the multiple advantages that remote working offers.
As such, if you’re looking to take your leadership skills to the next level, there’s rarely been a better time. Focus on how to lead from home effectively and you’ll be ideally placed to thrive in the post-COVID-19 business world.
About the Author
Ofer Tirosh is the entrepreneur who runs Tomedes, a translation and localisation agency that uses remote workers and that specialises in business translation services covering a wide range of language pairings.