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How to Be a Leader, Not Just a Manager, Even Working from Home.


How to Be a Leader, Not Just a Manager, Even Working from Home.

Nothing in the business is as valuable as the people, and nobody can help you more than an empowered team of like-minded people. Over the past twenty years, we had a few turning points for our company when we had to make significant changes to catch up with the world around us. Every time, our team helped us, supported us, and collaborated with us to make these changes happen. I could not even imagine doing all that on my own.

This is how I learned that leaders lead by inspiring others, while managers focus on what needs to get done on a daily basis. Both are needed, but only one will truly inspire your team to move through even the hardest times.

In the beginning, a lot of our team had to work nights and long weekends, just like any other start-up. Our management team always stayed with the teams even if we could not help them professionally. I always made sure that the team had something to eat (as simple as getting them a take-out or ordering a pizza) or could get home if buses were no longer going (driving them myself or getting them a cab). We lead by example, not just by telling our team what to do.

As a result, in 2008, our CTO and a few trusted employees opened our first US-based office. These people left the comfort of their established lives at home, they encountered a profoundly changing environment around them, and they practically had to travel halfway around the globe. However, they did it for us and with us. Some of our employees practically became part of the family.

How did this all happen? Through connectedness. When it comes to connectedness, it is essential that people feel that they are still working together even when no one is around.

Here are 5 tips to lead your team to a place that feels truly connected:

1. Make sure that everyone understands the common goal. Think of that as providing your employees with a North Star to guide them. It is the only way to align their efforts and your company’s vision and goals.

2. Make sure that they have enough means to communicate effectively. During COVID-19, we introduced multiple tools for our employees: forums, corporate discord servers, group chats on Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, etc. There are hundreds of products available on the market right now, so choose what works best for your business.

3. Ensure that your teams have at least one daily meeting where they share what they did yesterday to make you all closer to the goal; what is their commitment for today, and are there any obstacles on their way right now?

4. Visualize! Visualization is one of the most effective tools to keep everyone connected—Burndown charts, shared documents with progress, kanban boards, etc. There are plenty of instruments for visualization that allows everyone to keep track of what is going on. And that helps them to feel connected to the company and each other.

5. Make sure that information is being spread around. When people are working from home, you lose osmotic communication. So find ways to connect them. We introduced things like a monthly newsletter and town hall meetings. We share all the news and everything we think is essential in a newsletter. And then we assemble everyone at a general meeting, where anyone can ask management anything. Or share their information with everyone if they want to. That helps a lot.

Above all, ask questions and listen to your team. As leaders, you’re there to motivate, so listen hard and often.


Gehtsoft USA LLC is a software development and agile consulting company from Raleigh, NC. For more than 20 years, we help businesses to develop and support their products, resolve their IT problems, and do the Agile transformation of their business processes. Our technical experts, certified technical trainers, professional scrum masters, and product owners have a unique skill set and experience.