MELISSA ROMO is a multinational marketing leader, having built and led teams distributed around the world for several decades. Drawing on this experience, she wrote the book Your Resource is Human: How empathetic leadership can help remote teams rise above to help leaders of remote and distributed teams know how to build culture and connection no matter where people work. In this interview, Melissa shares her insights into the world of empathetic leadership in remote work and why empathy and trust go hand-in-hand with setting boundaries and managing performance.
Empathetic leadership is essential in the remote work landscape, enabling leaders to create engaging and high-performing teams. Melissa Romo’s book, “Your Resource is Human,” offers valuable insights and practical strategies for leaders navigating the challenges of remote collaboration
Enhancing the Remote Experience
- Use a “Happy Light” during video calls to brighten the mood, especially during winter when daylight is limited. This additional light can create a more positive atmosphereb and helps video calls look great.
- Establish and communicate agreed-upon working hours with your team to set clear boundaries and prevent overworking.
Cultivating Effective Communication
- Maintain open lines of communication with remote colleagues through regular one-on-one meetings. This practice helps build relationships and ensures that everyone feels heard and supported.
- Instead of large group meetings where people may hesitate to speak up, opt for smaller “cluster meetings” with 3-4 participants. These smaller sessions foster better conversations and engagement.
Building Trust and Psychological Safety
- The old way of managing was done via MBWA (management by walking around). In a hybrid work environment, replicate the visibility and connection that previously existed in an office setting. Find new ways to build trust and foster psychological safety among team members.
- Focus on being visible, understanding individual needs, and adapting leadership approaches to accommodate the unique challenges of remote work.
Five Critical Empathetic Leadership Behaviors
- Checking-in: Regularly connect with team members to gauge their well-being and address any concerns or challenges they may face.
- Communicating with optimism: Foster a positive and supportive work environment through effective communication that encourages and inspires.
- Building trust: Prioritize trust-building activities, such as transparent communication, active listening, and following through on commitments.
- Setting boundaries: Recognize the global nature of remote work and respect individuals’ need to adjust their working hours. Support team members in finding a healthy work-life balance.
- Managing performance: Document performance metrics and regularly review them with team members to provide feedback, track progress, and help them feel valued and supported.
Remote Ready Questionnaire
- Use the remote ready questionnaire provided in Melissa’s book (or on our website) to initiate self-reflection on your remote leadership abilities.
- Extend the reflection process to include conversations with colleagues or team members, seeking their input and perspectives on your leadership style and areas for improvement.
By implementing tips such as enhancing the remote experience, cultivating effective communication, building trust and psychological safety, practicing critical leadership behaviors, and engaging in self-reflection, leaders can create a supportive and productive remote work environment. Embrace empathetic leadership and empower your team to thrive in the new era of work.
The fabulous Miro, a visual online workspace, has sponsored this podcast episode. Visit miro.com/superpowers to get your three free whiteboards today.
Miro is a collaborative online workspace where you can visualize every idea, project, or workflow with the help of ready-made templates and tools. It’s built for teams to feel like they’re sitting side-by-side, even working in different places.