14/09/2020 |

New Skills Leaders Need When Managing Remote Employees

What new skills are needed now that leaders are
managing remote employees more frequently?

men pushing a car

The Corona Pandemic has sent nearly all of us “home.” Simple(er) for those who were already technically and process-wise set up in such a way that the change of one’s workplace did not pose too much of a challenge from an organizational point of view.

And yet, all of a sudden, there was and is something completely different now than the planned possibility of working from home could have ever produced: In many cases, we experience that the home office can almost become a prison. We’re at home with partners and children, sometimes in a small space, 24 hours a day; some residents work, others are bored, and it’s bundled together with the prospect of an increasingly incalculable future.

What Role Do Managers Play Now That Employees Are Remote?

Nevertheless, the usual work is to be performed; but suddenly it appears to be completely different from what we have been doing in our former working environment. Now the direction that managers can provide is an essential support to remote employees. However, many managers are overwhelmed and ask themselves what is expected of them now.

The complexity of daily life has increased to such an extent that it can no longer be managed by humans without the appropriate aids.

To know this, one must certainly take a look at the general changes to which the economy and working life are subject. The complexity of daily life has increased to such an extent that it can no longer be managed by humans without the appropriate aids. However, even more data and reports – provided by them – are of only marginal help. Today, there is a realization that we have to find a way to deal with uncertainty and risk in order to make decisions and thus be able to persist in them. The Corona crisis is now another reason for us to examine how sustainable our concepts are.

If, as recently experienced, spatial isolation occurs, teams should and must continue to work together remotely and productively. In such times, it becomes clear how strong and sustainable the effect of culture and leadership is, so that spatial isolation does not become social isolation. Essential elements of a confident leadership style are trust, tolerance and an appropriate orientation towards results.

Self-Awareness is a Key Skill for Today’s Managers

In times that are predominantly characterized by insecurity, skills beyond pure performance orientation are also required: foresight and sustainability. In many cases, however, this attitude results from work on self-awareness, external perception and intensive reflection on what service AND performance of leadership mean. After all, leadership is nothing more than a service to the people who work for the company.

Giving trust as well as demanding and using the competencies of employees are leadership approaches for the future.

Corona can also simply be understood – beyond the well-known versatile “side effects” – as a concrete challenge to deal with the catalysts that are necessary now and in the future and that are a prerequisite for successfully working together. Pioneering spirit and inspiration are at the forefront of this.

Together with the above-mentioned skills, as well as the traditional ones that have been strained in recent months, giving trust as well as demanding and using the competencies of employees are leadership approaches for the future.

The Principle of Cohesive Leadership

In order for these to develop well, it is above all a matter of promoting cohesion in teams – if only because we are currently looking at a fragmented society more than ever before. I believe that the principle of cohesive leadership, based on the three pillars of purpose, participation and education, shows very clearly how this community experience and work can be successfully developed.

graphic explains cohensive leadership


The younger generations of employees in particular see the higher sense of purpose in their own work as the central driving force, and KPIs are miles away from offering them this. Rather, explaining the “why” is a suitable motive. If we find a good definition here that is not a by-product of business activity, but rather forms its center; we will achieve sustainability regardless of any environmental efforts and experience real commitment.

The function and success of a team, i.e. a community, is supported when individuals can participate and have a say. This requires the provision of room for action and decision-making on the part of the management. This increases the opportunities, but at the same time also the obligations, because personal commitment is not only an opportunity, but is also demanded. Shaping the future means changing and adapting structures with a view on the big picture!

Last but not least, it is education and knowledge that must be continuously developed and promoted. Further education opens up perspectives for companies; no (further) education leads to stagnation. Establishing teaching and learning in companies is thus becoming a compulsory management program.

But even that alone is not enough. In order for a team to successfully follow this path, it needs personalities with genuine empathy and a world of emotions that goes beyond pride, hope and joy, i.e. that allows and lives many more emotions. This is the only way to overcome the boundaries of leadership created by focusing on the business and to find leadership that is visionary and value-oriented.

A quotation from Franz Kühmayer fits the bill:
“Passion, humanism and wholeness are the drive to discover potential in oneself and in others. For managers, these are the core competencies of their actual task.”

This, by the way, is not only true in times of Corona when you’re managing remote employees!

Photos: Aubrey Odom on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “New Skills Leaders Need When Managing Remote Employees

  1. Thanks for quoting me and for using the PEP (Purpose Education Participation) model for cohesive leadership that I developed and published in my Leadership Report. Great to see it has been of value for you!

    1. Actually I found the related article as well as the PEP model very inspiring. Matches perfectly our vision and culture. Thank you for making it publicly available!
      Sabine Riedel

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