Key learnings for remote CEOs

business strategy

The pandemic shocked the world in the spring when the global workforce was sent to work from home. Six months later, many will continue to remote work for the foreseeable future, and leaders and employees have adapted to the new reality. Through it all, leaders have had to be more available and engaged than ever before, creating a rallying cry for what needs to be accomplished and anchoring their team to their company’s mission, vision, purpose and values.

In conversations with other CEOs and executives over the past few months, I’ve gathered key learnings from being a remote CEO during the pandemic. Effective leaders use the following principles to encourage their team to stay positive, present and motivated while working remotely:

1. Leaders who focus on what they can control set the tone for employees.

As we’ve learned, particularly in 2020, we cannot control what happens. However, we can work to control our reactions. Successful leaders set the example for their businesses during a crisis by focusing on what they can control: effort, energy and attitude. In turn, leaders also trust their employees to focus on what they can control – their responsibilities. This means managing their work, practicing efficiency and finding new ways to communicate while being apart. Trust from leadership creates a major cultural advantage that allows employees to stay connected with each other and their work.


2. Now is not the time for leaders to make excuses for their companies to lose momentum.

Effective leaders must keep their businesses energized, not just operationalized, throughout this year. This push cannot happen when leaders focus on negative outcomes from the pandemic or use it as an excuse not to drive the company forward. The pandemic has created challenges for most companies, but it does not mean your company and employees can’t work to prevail.

3. Have clear goals focused on results.

Successful leaders remind their employees of the company’s mission, vision, purpose and values, and how these connect to long-term goals. This might mean re-determining what you and your leadership team want the goals to be, as well as what you see for the future of your company. And as the organization works remotely to execute on those goals, teams can ensure that virtual meetings are effective by maintaining the discipline of clearly stating the purpose of every meeting from the outset. It’s also important for leaders to ensure that their team is taking time away to unplug from emails and conference calls to focus on strategy, new ideas, and innovation.

4. The strongest leaders always strive for improvement.

This includes working to continuously improve yourself, your leadership skills and your company. Fearless leaders can start simply by being more available than ever to executives and employees. Make time for coffee chats and bonding with those at your company. Encourage your remote team leads to schedule daily standups or weekly check-ins so no employee feels isolated. One of the most effective actions I’ve seen CEOs take during the pandemic is dedicating time to send personal responses to customer and employee emails. This allows their people to feel heard and know leadership is readily available. After all, world-class today is not world-class tomorrow, and there’s always room for improvement.

5. Believe in breakthroughs, and celebrate incremental successes.

Implementing changes or reaching goals can be an arduous journey from start to finish. Employees at Vistage list what they accomplished at the end of the day. This creates purpose, a structured routine and a sense of accomplishment around each day. Celebrating the small successes can make the big ones feel more attainable, and doing so is critical for individuals at your company to feel recognized and valued. Small wins still count as wins.

The CEOs who use these key learnings have managed to keep their employees energized, focused and motivated through the crisis. While our daily routines and business operations changed suddenly, the pandemic created an opportunity for CEOs to question past practices, improve themselves and their leadership skills. It is time to meet our new reality head on and guide your company through the current challenges.

This article was originally published on Small Biz Daily.


Category: Leadership

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About the Author: Sam Reese

Sam Reese is CEO of Vistage, the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses. Over his 35 year career as a business leader, Sam has led large and midsize organizatio

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