Career Coaching – Leading Remotely

by Malcolm Nicholson – iCN Journalist (United Kingdom)

Summary: The last three years have brought with it massive changes and threats. Remote & Hybrid working means that a strong culture is crucial for driving positive results. Leaders need to focus on the relationship with employees and create a new kind of ‘stickiness’ with their organisations. This has to be built on purpose and focus on people as individuals, not units of production.

Many people are struggling to cope. We were in over our heads before the events of these last three years. ’COVID has driven an accelerated digital adoption, and an accelerated remote working. And I think it is going to change the way we engage with our workforce, our customers, our shareholders and all our stakeholders, because it had to change.’1

Covid brought lockdown and working from home, then Work from Anywhere, which led to the real globalisation of many job markets. All you need is good broadband and away you go. With this came the stretching of the thread of ‘organisational culture’, that should bind together everyone in a work department, location or organisation.

An Accenture report noted that regardless of where you are located, hybrid workforce models are embraced by 63% of high-revenue growth companies. Workers prefer a hybrid model 83% of the time2 . Only 4% of respondents in a recent Gartner survey said they would want to go back to the office full-time 3. The failure of organisations to respond adequately to this has contributed to ‘The Great Resign’.

However, by focussing on the processes, many are losing sight of the stuff that’s less easy to see… the culture, the below the waterline ‘soft’ stuff that enables the above the waterline ‘hard’ stuff to impact – or not.

‘Culture’ is often misrepresented because of its external symbolic manifestations – logos, buildings and the like, as well as internally by ‘trendy stuff’ – bean bags, table tennis areas, catering and personal wellness support.

It has been defined so many times as to make clarity somewhat opaque (For example Hal Duvall &Salom; Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner; Schein; Hofstede). Fundamentally, it’s about ‘how we do things around here’, which sounds simple, but includes behaviours of which we approve and reinforce and those of which we don’t. Culture can be toxic4 or a positive attractor, an enabler for fun and sustained peak performance, according to any significant business/people measurement.

Culture is not something that will naturally permeate through a remote organisation. So how can it be driven? One of the key conductors of culture has to be the manager/leader. To perpetuate this, leaders should evaluate their role to ensure their focus is on delivering through others as they create the climate for talented people to contribute and grow, with ‘welfare’ conversations being given as much space as possible. Your behaviour changes the system.

Millennials are looking for purpose; they’re also looking for employability, which means experience and learning. This ties in with the leaders and delegation; if the leaders are not delegating, then their team is not going to be learning. People also want flexibility. And feedback – stacks of it, and now. Leaders cannot always shape global events, but they can impact how people are within the work family. Many teams are working in geographical isolation, they should NOT be working in social isolation. If they are, then the leader is not doing their job.

Source: iCN Issue 39  (Career Coaching); pages 11-14

About Malcolm Nicholson

Malcolm Nicholson is the owner and Coaching Director for Aspecture, and has worked successfully with a wide range of international business people for 20 years, enabling them to improve business results and personal growth through transformational changes. To find out how he can help your organisation contact him at or on +44 1932 267597.