How to Be a Hands-On Leader in Social Distancing Times 

by Joel Patterson

There are plenty of suggestions out there about how to best lead a company, but have you ever been told that an uninvolved, uninterested, hands-off leadership strategy is the way to go? Probably not. Being a hands-on leader is more important than ever these days, as many teams are working remote.

The more a leader separates him or herself from the rest of the company, the less effective he’s likely to be. Here are a few things I’ve learned on my path to becoming a productive, involved, hands-on leader:

Honesty. Transparent communication is crucial when developing trust. Employees know when you are vague with your information or messaging. The more you can be completely open with your employees, the more they will trust you to lead them in the future. For example, if we have a complex implementation coming up, and I can see that we are going to need to work longer hours and possibly a weekend or two﹘ I tell my team precisely that. While it may seem like being the bearer of bad news, it’s better than leading them to believe they will be logging out at five every night when that’s simply not the case.

Approachability. It’s vital that every person in the company feels that they can come to you with their problems and you will hear them. The more you listen to your team, the more insight you will gain into how to lead them effectively. Never brush off an employee’s idea, opinion, or problem. Listen with intent, not apathy.

Offer Feedback. If a team or individual is underperforming but hasn’t gotten the feedback needed to address the issue, nothing is going to change. In the same way, if you have employees giving 110% effort and producing outstanding work, that needs to be recognized. Make sure your team knows that you are present; you see the work they’re putting in, and you are on the same side.

Lead by Example. I’ve found that leading by example is an essential element of leadership. The leaders set the attitude of the entire company. You can’t expect a collaborative workforce if you don’t collaborate with them. You can’t expect loyal, dedicated employees if you don’t fight for them as well.

Be the Leader You’d Want to Have. When making decisions, you have to think not only about the success of the company but the happiness of your

employees. A solution carried out by an unhappy employee is never a sustainable solution. If you’re not sure about how your decisions are affecting your team, ask for feedback.

In every situation, try to put yourself in the shoes of those you lead. Are you the type of supervisor you’d want to work with? Each of your employees is a human being. It may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s easy to get caught up in the big-picture decisions and forget about the individuals that those decisions affect.

Joel Patterson is the founder of The Vested Group, a business technology consulting firm in the Dallas, Texas area, and ForbesBooks author of The Big Commitment: Solving The Mysteries Of Your ERP Implementation. He has worked in the consulting field for over 20 years. Patterson began his consulting career at Arthur Andersen and Capgemini before helping found Lucidity Consulting Group in 2001. For 15 years he specialized in implementing Tier One ERP, software systems designed to service the needs of large, complex corporations. In 2011, Patterson founded The Vested Group, which focuses on bringing comprehensive cloud-based business management solutions to start-ups and well-established businesses alike. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Baylor University.

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