One of the most significant changes this fast-paced world currently undergoing is the change in the style, definition & future of work. With many globally leading organizations accepting ‘remote work’ as a norm and plans to continue offering ‘remote work’ as a more acceptable mainstream work practice to their staff, for the foreseeable future, the talented professionals are to work remotely with the help of digital & virtual tools.
This emergence of remote work and workplaces has also challenged the other associated norms around productivity, leadership, team management, skills of the future, and business sustainability. With the boundaries of the ‘work-life’ getting blurred and no one looking over our shoulders, ‘Self-leadership’ has become one of the most critical success factors for individuals to do well in their jobs and progress in their careers.
So what is self-leadership after all. In straightforward terms, self-leadership is mastering one’s self. It is about being your CEO or the master of your destiny. It is becoming accountable & taking full responsibility for our thoughts, feelings & actions. It is about developing ourselves by consciously influencing our thoughts, feelings & actions towards achieving our professional and personal goals. It is also the science of thinking inside-out and a strong belief that instead of blaming others, we consciously try to improve our thoughts & feelings and channel those positive thoughts & energy into timely actions. When we do this, we stand a much better chance of improved outcomes for ourselves and the people around us.
Now, let us imagine this self-leadership in the context of remote working. One of the biggest obstacles to the mainstream adoption of remote working has been the employers fearing the loss of productivity & commitment to work due to the underlying trust issues. Line managers become wary of their remote working teams because they suspect if the group shall meet the work goals, timelines & outcome expectations with no one looking over their shoulders. As individuals, we can all adopt specific yet beneficial practices inspired by self-leadership; to provide that much-needed assurance to our employers and managers.
Here are the top 5 ways you can showcase & develop self-leadership, especially in times of remote working –
1. Deliver Results – yes, the proof of the pudding is in tasting it, and results speak louder than our words. So while working remotely, let our performance, contribution & impact speak for themselves. It always works better to showcase our performance & achievements in quantifiable terms; rather than just by way of some promise left to imagination & ambiguity.
2. Take accountability – it is tempting to pass on the buck or hide poor performance or lapses, citing multiple excuses, e.g., technology, distractions, lack of support from colleagues, etc. However, that is not how the real high-performers operate. So we need to take complete ownership of our work & deliverables and overcome hurdles pro-actively.
3. Bring clarity – wondering why? Ambiguity leads to confusion, while clarity fuels assurance. There are multiple uncertainties that the employers, managers & teams are dealing with while working remotely. Therefore, if we bring clarity to the table and exhibit predictability in our actions and results, people see us in a better light and get reassured or even inspired.
4. Communicate with solutions – when in a flight that experiences turbulence, don’t we feel better when the captain keeps briefing about the weather’s status outside & reassuring that they’ve got it under control and by when the flight should be out of the impact zone. Likewise, whatever our role in the team, we need to be communicating & do so by offering solutions. We need to start by thinking ‘inside-out’ – how can I solve this problem, what can I do to improve this situation, what value can I add to this process & so on.
5. Self-discipline – self-leadership is about self-mastery, and there can be no mastery without discipline. Right from getting up on time & starting our day to going to bed on time or the way we manage our work schedules and output. Even building family & relationships, developing a positive & growth-mindset, keeping ourselves healthy, developing good habits, taking care of the environment & planet happens with discipline. Self-discipline is the foundation of everything we can achieve in life. Therefore, while we work remotely & usually from the comfort of our home, we must practice & showcase a high degree of self-discipline to influence our outcomes and inspire other colleagues or teams.
Self-leadership is a fine art, and to master the same, we also need to connect with our ‘deeper self’ to discover & identify who we are. A better understanding of our ‘self’ at a deeper combined level helps us with self-discovery & self-identification that fosters better Self-awareness. Better awareness of who we are, what we want to be, what motivates us, and makes us most productive are good starting points. Our strengths to add real value and potential improvement(self-development needs) can be the next step on our self-awareness journey. And this self-awareness, when supplemented with self-discipline, leads to self-development and, eventually, self-leadership.