A Gartner survey revealed that at the height of the pandemic in 2020, 88% of organizations encouraged their employees to work from home. Indeed, the virtual workforce is growing exponentially, and managers need to keep up. An effective leader must be adept in many fields, including project management, performance monitoring, and coaching. Now, with the unconventional corporate environment, they also need to adopt a type of leadership that will revolutionize their remote team.
Over the years, the transformational leadership style has changed the digital landscape for the better. Managers who use this method build an engaged workforce that’s motivated to innovate and work towards the success of their organization. Anyone in a leadership position would want to achieve the same for their company.
So, in this post, we are going to share how transformational leadership principles can improve your remote workforce management techniques. We’ll also share some tips on how you can apply this method when managing virtual teams.
What Is Transformational Leadership?
Transformational leadership is a management style in which a person encourages, motivates, and inspires their subordinates to grow, innovate, and create change. They set an example at the executive level by creating a strong sense of accountability, independence, and corporate culture in the workplace. While transformational leadership is commonly used in tech companies, it is also applicable in other fields. For instance, a Walden University study revealed that this management technique also helps create a pleasant and uplifting atmosphere for healthcare workers. Leaders fulfill their psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness—qualities that enable them to excel in their occupations.
Another great quality of transformational leaders is their ability to motivate and inspire their workforce without micromanaging. Because they encourage accountability, they have faith that their employees can make sound decisions. Under this leadership style, staff members are given more room to be innovative. They are encouraged to look to the future and find out-of-the-box solutions to old problems. Mentor-mentee training programs can also prepare entry- and mid-level employees to become transformational leaders one day.
Is Transformational Leadership Effective for Remote Teams?
A Walden University dissertation explored the impact of transformational leadership on virtual teams in an information technology organization. The proponents of the study tested how remote employees’ productivity increased when they were subject to a management style different from traditional forms of leadership. The results revealed that aside from improving the relationship between managers and remote employees, transformational leadership also motivated the latter to work harder. This workforce management style inspired people to exert extra effort in their work. What’s more, the employees expressed more satisfaction with their work compared to their colleagues who were under a different leadership style.
How to Apply the Transformational Leadership Style in a Remote Working Environment
We know that transformational leadership is effective in managing virtual workforces. However, how do you apply this management style to your remote team? Here are some tips:
Identify What You Want to Achieve
As a transformational leader, you must think out of the box when approaching your goals. This management style encourages input and engagement from employees. Even so, as a leader, you should decide on the direction of the team before you commence a project. So, even before you discuss anything with your employees, you must understand the best methods for accomplishing your goals. From there, you can determine how you can bring the best out of your team to motivate them to reach project milestones.
Transformational leadership best practices call for a collaborative approach instead of a directive management style. If you’re using this leadership method in your remote team, you must equalize power among the members. Everyone should be allowed to be part of solving problems instead of waiting for directions. Your role as a leader is to inspire them to collaborate and move toward a common goal. You should motivate them to share responsibility, accountability, and authority.
Personalize Coaching and Feedback
When applying transformational leadership to a remote workforce, you must get rid of even the tiniest micromanaging tendencies. Moreover, you must encourage independence among your employees. Even so, it’s still important to perform check-ins as often as possible. Now, with a distributed team—especially with members coming from different regions—the meetings should be adjusted to people’s needs and schedules. You’re personalizing the coaching sessions by working on what’s important and convenient for your employees.
Since you’re avoiding micromanaging your remote employees, they’ll naturally make independent decisions under your direction. To encourage autonomy among your team members, look for people who have the potential to become a leader. Empower them to take initiative in guiding people towards making decisions and solving problems. It’s essential to find those natural leaders, especially in a virtual workplace where individuals are often geographically isolated.
Establish Policies and Processes
You can only ensure successful collaboration and autonomy if your team operates through well-defined processes and policies. With properly laid-out norms, your remote workers know how to handle uncertain situations. What’s more, they have adequate guidelines for meeting the milestones of a project.
Inspire Your Team to Give Their Best
The levels of team performance depend on how efficient the leadership style is. This means that no matter how talented your remote employees are, they will only reach their true potential with your guidance. However, instead of giving them orders and constantly telling them what to do, you should show them the role they play in the bigger picture and thereby motivate and inspire them. You need to lead by example and justify the motives behind your decisions.
To put that into context, let’s look at this situation. A man came across two people digging a ditch. He asked one of them, “What are you doing?” The person answered, “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m digging a ditch!” Then, he asked the other person the same question, to which he responded, “I’m building a school.”
As a leader, you need to get into the minds of your subordinates. Let them understand the purpose behind their duties and tasks—that they are part of something bigger. They aren’t simply writing code or filling in forms. Instead, they are playing an important role in making a positive change in the industry.
Don’t Confuse Transactional Leadership with Transformational Leadership
We understand that managing a remote team is difficult enough. Naturally, you’d want to find the leadership methods that will bring the quickest and safest results. Well, transactional leadership is the management style that will give you this. It relies on motivating people through rewards and punishments. Moreover, it requires performance monitoring, supervision, organization, and oversight. What’s more, it plays by the rule book and doesn’t have much room for innovation. After all, it is rooted in making consistent decisions based on predictable results. Overall, the goal of this method is to establish effective routine procedures.
Transactional leadership is ideal for companies or departments that thrive in structure and routine. It is applicable to businesses wherein reducing inefficiency or chaos is critical. However, do note that it does not allow for creative and innovative planning. Transformational leadership is more applicable in agile work environments—especially those that have room for low-risk failures. Transactional leadership promotes consistent development processes, while transformational leadership allows employees to innovate and look at how they can shape the future.
Traqq – A Project Management Tool That Works for Any Leadership Style
Whether you’re a transactional or a transformational leader, you need the right tools to ensure that your employees are working efficiently. Traqq is one of the best tools that can help you in this area. If you prefer transactional leadership, using Traqq as your time tracker will help you monitor your team’s productivity. You can use this tool to generate reports on your staff members’ day-to-day activity levels.
Now, if you’re a transformational leader, you can still use Traqq for your team. This app is especially useful for people who manage geographically scattered employees. With this leadership style, you’d want to give your workers room to be creative. Now, how can they innovate if they spend so much time on admin tasks like manual timesheets, productivity reports, and invoices? Well, Traqq takes all these off your employees’ shoulders. All they need to do is switch on the tracker and it will capture billable hours. With a few clicks, you can generate reports that will make invoicing easier. The best part is, you can download Traqq and access all its features for free!
There’s nothing wrong with using transactional leadership, especially if it is what works for your organization. However, since managing virtual teams requires being flexible and adaptable to change, you may want to consider becoming a transformational leader instead. It’s what will help you drive your employees towards creativity and innovation.