“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy
Perhaps some of us would like to change the current state of the world – 2020 threw everything we’ve known upside down and gave it a good shake. What’s still here? Well, if nothing else, you are. You’re here and you’d still like to be a great leader, in a wildly unpredictable time.
As a leader, it’s likely you’ve been facing the immense challenge of managing a team that had to abruptly transition from a familiar office space and established culture to what feels like dozens, or even hundreds, of people on their own remote islands. Even with a vaccination rollout underway, it will be months before we return to offices, and let’s face it, not everyone will.
The Future of Leadership
So, how can you possibly lead… effectively… given these circumstances?
You might explore different trainings, institute virtual happy hours or offer wellness perks to keep your team feeling inspired, engaged and connected.
Or, you might take inspiration from Tolstoy and first make an effort to look inward, before trying to have a larger external impact. This, right here, is an invitation to do just that – to go straight to your very core.
Who are you, at your inner core? When was the last time you contemplated this?
You can connect with your inner core in stillness and silence, self-reflection or inquiry. If you give yourself this opportunity to pause, look deep within, and ask yourself some of life’s most important questions (like, “who am I really?”), you will discover something very powerful lies beneath the external resume or bio most of us have come to identify ourselves with.
Connecting with your inner core is the hallmark of a great leader. At the very center of your being, you are tranquil, curious, open to change and growth; you are connected to purpose, and most importantly, you are deeply connected to everyone around you. This inner core is an ever-renewing state of courage, insight and energy.
It’s true, this state can, at times, become buried underneath things like goal obsessions, emotional surges and blind spots, but it’s always there. Perhaps you remember what it feels like in those moments when you’re operating from your inner core – you’re in flow, you’re receptive, you’re inspired, and you’re also inspiring. You are naturally bringing out the best in yourself and others.
Many of history’s greatest leaders have leveraged the power that comes with connecting to this internal state. Take Mother Teresa, for example. From 12 nuns in Calcutta to a global movement with countless supporters serving the needs of the poor, she made her outer impact by continuously expressing who she was at her core – compassion, empathy and love. She expressed these qualities continuously through her everyday actions, and it inspired greatness within all those who worked alongside her. Without any formal training, she had become a master remote manager.
You might be thinking, well that’s Mother Teresa. She was a saint. But there’s good news – the ability to do this – to connect with and lead from your inner core – lies within every single one of us! So, how can you bring out the greatness that exists within you and others, too?
Self-Investigation Leads to Better Remote Management
At Mentora, our research shows there are simple actions you can practice with consistency that connect you to your inner core:
- Agency – you will inevitably encounter challenges big and small within your work. Activate agency by taking control of the narrative in those moments and embark on a Hero’s Journey. To start, identify a goal and then do a little investigating to connect this work to an uplifting purpose – ask yourself what is aspirational, meaningful or rewarding about it? Next, frame snags that arise, to yourself and to others, as essential growth moments. Challenges or delays haven’t derailed you. They’ve just made you more aware, agile and equipped as you continue down the path toward your purpose. When you’re on a Hero’s Journey you inspire others to go on one, too. Master this action and you’ll notice your team responding to their own challenges with more resilience and collaboration.
- Awareness – during a difficult conversation with a team member, it takes awareness to identify the emotions you’re feeling in the moment. It takes higher awareness to investigate how those emotions can either help or hurt your immediate cause. And now, you have to do these emotional assessments virtually which takes it up even another notch! If you notice an emotional surge coming on during a conversation, if possible, suggest taking a break so you can both to do some reflection and introspection. During this time, ask yourself how you can bring out the best in the other person and the current situation. Consider what will you say and how you will say it. Consider how it will make them feel and how it will make you feel. As you re-enter the conversation, be ready to dial up or down the emotions so you can get to that optimal outcome you envisioned. Your ever-deepening awareness sparks deepening awareness within others.
- Affiliation – sometimes you may have to manage a team member that you don’t see eye-to-eye with. Whether the physical distance that comes with remote working has helped or further strained the relationship, the practice of affiliation has the power to create and strengthen bonds between the two of you. To affiliate, investigate various ideas and opportunities to find common ground. Instead of focusing on the differences in your styles or strategies or even political affiliations, you connect over something you both are, appreciate, enjoy or do. Perhaps you’re both parents to daughters around the same age or maybe you love to bake or play chess – once you find that connective tissue, nurture it so you can begin to authentically see them as one of yours and they will see you as one of them.
These actions require energy on your part – it’s an inside-out leadership operating system. The more you practice, the more you will step into your highest potential and into that state that is inspired and inspiring. From this state, you will bring out the best in people, even from afar.
So, as a remote manager, let me ask you: to keep your team connected, inspired, and engaged, are you willing to do the work yourself first? Will you invest the time to investigate who you are at your core? Will you practice these actions that can help you connect to it and express it?
After a decade working within high-growth tech startups, Jen Kluczkowski pursued higher education in slowing down in both New York and India with over a thousand hours of formal training in the science of Yoga. Before joining Mentora, she founded and operated MINDFRESH, a global organization responsible for leading thousands of virtual and on-site corporate mindfulness sessions, from tech companies in Tel Aviv to Fortune 100s in NYC