In A Remote World, Here’s How Agencies Can Keep Growing Leaders

Since the beginning of 2020, more companies than ever before have switched to either a fully remote or hybrid work model. With the transition to a digital-first approach, agencies may struggle at first to continue to help leaders grow and develop remotely.

But helping leaders thrive from a distance isn’t too different from the tools agencies would use to help them grow in person. From encouraging further education to developing soft skills, Forbes Agency Council members shared 15 strategies for agencies that want to inspire growth in team leaders. Follow their advice to continue developing your remote managers.

1. Set Time Aside For Teaching

To foster next-gen leaders in a remote world, agencies must pursue a counterintuitive pivot away from the distance and long leash typical of remote work. Instead, we need to embrace a return to a day-to-day, high-touch approach to mentorship, albeit virtually. It’s about deliberate time set aside for teaching rather than relying on organic modeling of behaviors picked up via hallway observation. – Bess WinstonWinston Agency

2. Encourage Proactive Engagement

I have successfully grown our agency to over $100 million in revenue. The things I have learned in growing leaders today are teaching them to proactively engage, be nimble, be solution-oriented, and appreciate and recognize often. Don’t be afraid to level up the ones around you, and welcome conversations that push progress and champion change. The goal is to get buy-in and teach execution excellence. – Jerry KellyMarketing 360®

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


3. Invest In Communication, Collaboration And KPIs

When you compare the physical workplace with the virtual, one thing that you notice is the difference in people’s soft skills and how they interact with each other. Core to the success of the remote work model is investing in three things: communication techniques (to remove misunderstanding), collaboration (to empower teamwork) and establishing meaningful KPIs (to measure success). – Hamish AndersonThree Piece Marketing

4. Build A Foundation Of Trust

In a remote work environment, building a foundation of trust is essential to growing leaders. Micromanagement has—unfortunately—become a norm in workplaces everywhere, leading to higher rates of employee dissatisfaction, burnout and feeling undervalued. Managers must build trust with their team members and focus on skill development over task management. – Annette SallyBlue Sky Agency

5. Maintain Regular Check-Ins With Team Members

The fundamentals of growing great leaders do not change between in-office and remote settings, they are just executed differently. Regular one-on-one meetings between managers and individual team members remain imperative. Managers need to continue to identify growth projects and educational opportunities for rising talent and empower team members to own initiatives and learn from missteps. – Marian HughesTier One Partners

6. Find Somebody Who Can Influence Others

Find somebody who has a proven ability to influence others: teams, clients, vendors and those doing the interviewing. Ask the question. Ask for references. Call the references. If they talk about “setting the table and letting people make mistakes,” or use T.E.A.M. acronyms, run. This is the sign of someone who can’t influence or who isn’t a leader. Simple. Also, check credit, criminal and education credentials. Don’t skip this. – Matt WilsonEastport Holdings

7. Take Advantage Of Virtual Learning

A teaching hospital agency culture where team members work virtually side-by-side with leaders who are engaged in the work is a great way to grow leaders. Executive education is also a great virtual opportunity for growth. There has never been a better time to take online classes. Lastly, virtual programs for high-potential leaders that include executive coaching are very successful for leadership growth. – Wendy KarlynRightpoint

8. Develop Solid Processes And Tools For Support

Our WordPress agency has operated with a distributed workforce for 13 years. We have cultivated many leaders remotely by trusting the people we employ. We have solid processes and tools in place that benefit our team. Additionally, our company culture is flexible, and we support wellness and personal growth. Mentorship, one-on-one check-ins and continuing education are important to our culture. – Brad WilliamsWebDevStudios

9. Replace Meetings With Mentorship

How many meetings are simply recaps or management making requests, which can take place in emails? Use valuable screen time to set up one-on-one mentoring sessions, group sessions, review the course of the business and work with staff to help them lift up their teams. – Loren BakerFoundation Digital

10. Remain Empathetic And Support Work-Life Balance

Today, leadership for agencies has two dimensions: client leadership in the new disrupted world and internal team leadership. While client leadership focuses on translating brand communication beyond digital platforms into the new ecosystem of connected and competing metaverses, empathy becomes a fundamental team leadership skill to prevent burnout and ensure life-work balance in a team. – Oksana MatviichukPerformics

11. Give Teams More Responsibility

Give them more responsibility with a clear reward. Leaders tend to take the torch and carry it when tasked with more opportunities. Followers tend to complain. Want to find out who is who in your agency? Read the first sentence. – David KleyWeb Design and Company

12. Set Firm Expectations

Besides taking advantage of the plethora of online learning and leadership trainings that have become so prevalent, managers of future leaders must foster a new kind of connectedness with them while setting firm expectations for both autonomy and accountability. Leaders are and will continue to surface in the new norm. – Camille NicitaGongos, Inc.

13. Model Desired Behaviors

We want to be a place where people come to do their best work, experience true belonging and grow. The methods for cultivating leadership are the same, whether staff is working in-office or remotely. Start by setting clear expectations for management behaviors, and model the desired behaviors from the top down so that credibility, confidence, compassion and accountability are cultured. – Mike PopowskiDagger

14. Put Trust In Your Employees

Instead of just tracking hours and tasks on a spreadsheet, you should start trusting your employees more based on their achievements and work done at the end of each month than merely based on weekly hours clocked in. Since you have less control over someone who is working remotely, it’s better to show that you can trust a person more than micro-manage every single task. – Alessandro BogliariThe Influencer Marketing Factory

15. Inspire Your Team To Attend In-Person Experiences

Invest in opportunities to empower your team with virtual learning and in-person experiences. This can range from in-person team sprints for a few days in a particular city to offering a stipend to encourage your agency talent to attend virtual conferences where they can expand their skill sets or network. It’s a win-win for both the agency and the team. – Ethan ParkerTreble

The Tycoon Herald