During our current leadership training we are discussing John C. Maxwell’s The Five Levels of Leadership.

Inspired by our discussion, here are two major takeaways that can be applied to working on a distributed or remote team:

1. An effective remote leader builds genuine connections with people over time.

You cannot lead people effectively if you do not care for them. It’s also hard to people to want to follow you, or to get along with you, if you don’t get along with them! Getting to know someone, finding out how they want to grow as a person, and seeing how they are a unique addition to the team, are not things that can happen overnight.

This kind of growth orientation takes time, energy and intention, Maxwell explains in his book. Relationship-building happens over time, and it isn’t any different in a remote setting.

Although it may seem more difficult in a remote setting, Maxwell points out that in order for people to do their best—which is what is required to “create, share, question, attempt and risk” in the workplace—it is essential.

As remote leaders, we’re able to build relationships by ensuring we are extremely accessible, intentional listeners, and having a focus that never takes people out of the equation.

2. An effective remote leader recognizes that the foundation of successful leadership is trust.

To develop these meaningful, trusting relationships with our teams, it requires a sense of dependability, true involvement, and of course honesty.

In a remote setting, one of the most effective ways to show your dependability and involvement is showing your trust in your team

An example of Edoc leadership showing trust and proactive team building is evident in our transparency as a company.

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Trust is the foundation to grow towards each other and together as a remote team. Empowered staff will feel more fulfilled as they see the influence their work has on the company’s growth.

Jack Stack, author of The Great Game of Business, provides another example. Stack built his company, Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation, by sharing the company’s financial statements with all workers.

Beyond just opening up the books, Stack also taught line workers to read and understand the reports. Doing so ensured that the financials could appropriately influence the strategy and day-to-day decision making that took place at the company.

Backed by their understanding of the financials, he also provided workers the freedom to act on specific financial line items for stellar results.

In doing so, he built an engaged, strategic team—a group of people who could all think like entrepreneurs. The success of the company, justly built upon financial analysis to help guide strategic direction, included multiple launches of sister companies by his empowered staff.

This state of financial transparency is a major way we build our relationships with one another, since we can better recognize the value of the work being done by those around us.

Looking at the state of the business as a team enables us to all give meaningful input into key decisions—a great example of how leadership should lift a team when done right. It’s up to leaders to ensure that the remote culture is conducive to personal and team growth, inspiration, as well as desired growth (personal and as a company).

One thing is clear from Maxwell’s The Five Levels of Leadership: remote leadership is an ongoing, but very rewarding, journey. To continue to have one another’s trust, and to continue to authentically connect with people, we must go from “sole producers” to people developers!

Kim Sykes EdocREAD MORE: If you liked this post, you might like “What You Should Know About Virtual HR Etiquette

Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service, Inc., a total virtual company.