leadership approaches for building trust in remote teams

The 6 Leadership Approaches You Need For Building Trust In Remote Teams

The 6 Leadership Approaches You Need For Building Trust In Remote Teams

leadership approaches for building trust in remote teams

Quick Summary- Building trust has always been a plight for leaders- And speaking of remote teams, it’s even tougher because teams are dispersed. Which is why virtual leaders should go the extra mile to craft a culture of trust and ensure that their teams are well-run. In this blog, we talk about the top 6 leadership approaches that work like charm when it comes to building trust in remote teams. So, without further ado, let’s get started!


A typical virtual workplace looks incoherent without trust- Your team members are juggling between time zones, deadlines are being missed, communication is lost, team performance suffers, work culture sinks, and what not! And together these make it difficult for teams to trust you and the other way round. 

On the contrary, trustworthy leadership does exactly the opposite- It encourages teamwork, compassion, empathy, autonomy, open communication, failure, resilience, and an agile working style. 

Trust-building is the key to a happier and more productive workplace. 

Gartner affirms that “Companies with high levels of trust maximized their average employee engagement by 76% as compared to those with low levels of trust.”- Such is the power of fostering trust in virtual teams. 

Trust building is hard when you don’t get to see your teams face-to-face but it’s not unachievable- All you need is slight adjustments in your leadership style, organizational culture, and willingness to embrace the change. 

The 6 Leadership Approaches You Need For Building Trust In Remote Teams

In case you’re wondering, listed below are the top 6 leadership approaches that work like a charm and assure that your organization is well-run even in a distributed work setting.These leadership

1. Exercise Vulnerability

In remote environments, practicing vulnerability acts like icing on the cake. Allow yourself to be your authentic self. It’s okay to admit your shortcomings in public. You can have long days too. You can mess up too. That’s fine! Communicate and ask for help, whenever required! 

When interacting with your team members, act friendly. Share more of yourself- Indulge in non-work-related conversations at times! Also, encourage your team to do so.

Practicing vulnerability helps build a healthy rapport with your team. Here’s how-

If you’re honest with your team about stalled projects or declining revenue, you encourage openness. Tell them setbacks are normal but how you bounce back when adversity hits can make a huge difference. Your colleagues will become confident/inspired/empowered if they see you doing it. And that’s how you’ll develop high-performing teams!

Talking about your struggles takes nerves, but it also sets the tone that “not knowing all” and “having bad days” are normal occurrences at work! 

Being vulnerable, when leading remote teams can literally take you places. If you’re struggling with building trust in remote teams, now’s the time to initiate tough conversations, develop an outcome-oriented mindset and be emotionally available whenever it’s needed!

2. Show Up as a Trustworthy Leader by Keeping Your Actions and Statements in Sync

When “what you say” and “how you act” align—you’re on track to building trust in a remote team! The trick is to keep your word (just like a general human) and align your behavior accordingly. There’s no better way to strengthen your team’s trust!

Also, do not try to commit something nearly impossible. This could come across as a major red flag. Prioritize transparent communication. Set the right expectations, no matter how harsh they may sound!

As a new leader in the system, you must get clarity on the deliverables first. Only then should you either commit or start goal setting. With time, honoring your commitments rewards you not just with trustworthiness but also a stellar reputation.

If you do what you say you’ll do, you open doors to a team that looks up to you, on good days and the bad!

3. Take Ownership When Things Go Out of Way and Resolve Them

As a leader, you’re wearing several hats- From team handling to operations to client management to analysis, there’s a lot on your plate. Hence, loopholes/glitches are inevitable. 

There may be times when you let someone down- That’s where ownership/accountability comes in handy! Instead of placing the ball in someone else’s court, start owning mistakes! 

Building trust in remote teams requires leaders to act with integrity! You just can’t throw your hands and say, “Sorry! That happened!” You must find ways to solve the problem. Communicate the entire thing with your team and come up with a solution. 

When it comes to managing remote teams, the need for accountability becomes even more important. To bridge the gap, you need to embody the behaviors you’d like your team to emulate. Create a culture of accountability in a virtual work environment and reward people who actively take up accountability. 

4. Develop Emotional Intelligence At Work

  • Do you lose your cool when things don’t work to your advantage?
  • How well do you handle work-related stress?
  • Are you able to resolve team conflicts effectively?

The world is rapidly advancing, and so is the workforce! The current environment requires leaders to develop a compassionate voice as they manage remote teams. 

Emotional Intelligence is a key skill that will determine how you respond to tough situations. The more emotionally adept you’re, the better you can manage stress and build stronger interpersonal relationships, which in turn improves performance.

According to McKinsey, practicing Vulnerability, Empathy, Awareness, and Compassion can help leaders navigate the new normal better. 

Developing Emotional Intelligence at work can help you get rid of communication silos. You’ll be better at sensing your employee’s emotional well-being, even if you’re watching them from the screen. 

To sustain in a remote working environment, your teammates need to understand what you expect of them- That’s where transparent communication owns the stage. Try to collaborate more often. Be approachable and easy to work with, so that people feel comfortable pouring their hearts out to you!

Emotional Intelligence can’t be taught. It’s something you need to apply in your day-to-day work life. In addition to leading by example, you should also promote a learning environment where your team is given opportunities to handle emotions well in a simulated learning environment. 

Role plays in a risk-free setting will help you and your team to identify how emotions are triggered. On top of that, simulation-based learning also gears you for real-world challenges. By fostering an open learning environment, everyone in your team will get an opportunity to bond with each other, thereby leading to building trust!

5. Lead Through Change

At KNOLSKAPE, we believe that the one who adapts quickly wins the fastest! Looking back to the past 2 years, right from product experiences to service deliveries, things morphed quite a bit and the brands that adapted to the shift succeeded multifold. 

As cliche as it may sound, “change is the only constant”. And as leaders, you need to rise to the challenge and serve as a change agent. Leaders who incorporate change as a part of their culture will stay ahead of the curve. There’s no second-thinking to that! 

It’s time for you to be more agile, open, and accommodating when it comes to managing remote teams. You must be willing to discard traditional methodologies and devise new approaches based on the circumstances.

And let’s not forget, change is not just about you. It’s an organization-wide initiative. Just leading change won’t pay off, you also need to drive change amongst your team and arm your workforce with the competencies that will help them thrive a few years down the road. 

Encourage curiosity, innovation, and experimentation. Reward flexibility. Think from people and customer’s point of view to reach decisions. Train yourself in change management- It’s a necessity! If you know how to get everyone on the same page despite uncertainty, you’re on your way to leading next.

6. Celebrate Achievements/Initiatives, No Matter How Tiny!

When your team power through hard stretches, the value of toasting is paramount. Showing gratitude, honoring the human side of work won’t make you any less a good leader. In fact, it makes you an incredible leader- one who sticks with his/her team in happy and not-so-happy moments, one who’s there to grease the wheels, even in a virtual setting. 

People love being rewarded and heard. Show them some love by sharing positive notes about their contribution to the company. You can do it either way- One-on-one or publicly. Understand how people in your teams like to be acknowledged and act accordingly. 

No better way to make your team members feel special about their contributions to the organization than social media-Leverage social media to highlight employee appreciation. Celebrate employee anniversaries. 

Pack your company’s social page with employees’ monthly or yearly performance. Cheer them by sharing uplifting quotes or messages. Also, make sure it’s not just restricted to work. You can give shoutouts to people based on – “how they helped a team member?”, “how they didn’t give up in trying times?” or “how did they step out of their comfort zone to accomplish something?”

These tiny acts of kindness often go unnoticed and rewarding people for even their smallest efforts can go a long way in building trust in remote teams. 

Trustworthy leadership skills don’t come by nature. You need to earn them. No matter where you’re on your leadership journey, the only way to build trust is to walk the talk. To put it in simple ways- If you want to drive a culture of trust in your organization, you need to lead the change- Cast off micromanaging, believe in what they have to offer, allow them to reach their full potential. We hope you find this blog helpful in better understanding the key behaviors that impact trust. 

Do You Embody Trust-Building as a Leader?

Trust-building is a two-way street. Thus, At KNOLSKAPE, we expose you to a simulated-based learning environment and help establish trust-building with external key stakeholders, clients, and team members. Whether you’re a first-time manager, first-time leader, or an individual contributor, Building Trust Simulation by KNOLSKAPE has got you covered. It walks you through different ways of building trust in a workplace like never before.

Are you curious about leveraging trustworthiness as a leader? Please feel free to contact us! 

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KNOLSKAPE is a global leader in experiential learning with a mission to help organizations and employees become future ready. Using a large award-winning portfolio of simulations aligned with 100+ competencies and cutting-edge talent intelligence, KNOLSKAPE produces stellar outcomes for more than 375+ organizations across 75 countries. Driven by research and thought leadership, KNOLSKAPE offers its products and solutions in a flexible subscription model powered by omni-channel delivery.

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