27 September 2023

Learning to lead from anywhere

Start the conversation

Sonia McDonald* says that as more organisations decide that temporary remote working during the pandemic will become permanent, leadership styles have to change.

Leaders now have a new challenge. I am a big advocate of LBWA – Leadership by Walking Around (the office).

However, what happens if you can’t walk around the office and see your team?

LBZA – Leadership by Zooming Around? Or LBAA – Leadership by Anywhere Around.

Yes, times are changing and being able to lead anywhere is now going to be the new norm.

I can feel the cringe — if I can’t see you, can I really lead you effectively?

With many of us working from home, on the kitchen table, at the local café or in the spare room due to COVID-19, leadership is also changing.

Companies like Telstra, EY and Finder, to name a few, are now working from home and Twitter announced that now everyone is working from home permanently.

Whether this will be the new norm, who knows? However, the way we work will change and definitely how the way we lead.

We are coaching and working with many leaders and organisations around how to navigate, adapt and lead in this new norm.

For many it is really challenging. Leadership is a tough gig and even tougher when you are not leading in the office or face-to-face.

I want to give you some insights into how leadership is changing and what you can do to be a better leader, anywhere.

Where do you start? Trust — you must trust your people and teams.

I know you can lead anywhere.

I have been doing it for nearly 15 years.

Leadership isn’t about being face-to-face with those around you 9-to-5. We have been moving away from that for a long time.

The flexible workplace is one that I am a massive advocate for.

However, is permanent working from home something we need to adapt to and embrace?

The jury is out for me on this one. I truly believe we are social beings; that we need someone to connect and collaborate with.

There are online ways to connect and collaborate which is critical today, like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and so forth.

However, nothing beats the face-to-face connection.

I find the whole thing about working from home and how I need to lead my team from home, rather interesting.

As the founder of a company where I have led remotely for years, I feel like a semi-expert in this and guess what — I also had no choice.

As a full time solo mum for the past 15 years with no support network, I had to grow, navigate and lead a company and team most of the time from home and remotely.

It was super challenging. However, with courage, kindness and trust, you can do it.

Today (thanks goodness) I am finding more people embracing remote working.

I now have clients and associates who are more open to meeting and working online.

They are now more than happy for us to run workshops, keynotes, programs and coaching online too.

In turn, my team is so capable and incredible that I know it will deliver outputs and outcomes wherever it is.

I have helped it do this as I want it to know it can work and lead anywhere.

I am not saying this is always easy.

It takes more time, commitment, connection and courage to lead anywhere.

However, we are succeeding because we know great leadership can happen anywhere.

I am leading at home, in the car, in a café, walking along the beach, at the doctor’s reception, in the dining room, on the bus…the list is endless.

We use phone, Messenger, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, email and so forth.

I just lead anywhere as it is what I need to do today. I love to lead and love to create leaders.

You can do it as well. However it does take a new mindset and attitude to leading.

The keys are trust and courage. Trust your people and be courageous in knowing that this type of leading does work and can work.

* Sonia McDonald is the Chief Executive and founder of Brisbane-based LeadershipHQ and McDonald Inc. She can be contacted at soniamcdonald.com.au

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.