How Ethical Leadership Can Steer Your Remote Workforce

Friday, August 20, 2021

Finding the right leadership balance is a difficult enough task for managers without having to consider the strategic difficulties of remote working.

Article 5 Minutes
How Ethical Leadership Can Steer Your Remote Workforce

Leadership looks different in a remote workforce. Although many companies are enjoying the advantages of a well-oiled remote team, their leaders can admit it was a tough road getting there.

It can be difficult to find the line between ensuring productivity and micro-managing in a remote workforce. But practicing ethical leadership can steer your remote workforce in the direction of consistent achievement and growth. When leaders work with integrity, honesty, care and purpose at the forefront, they can inspire and encourage their remote teams to perform at a high level. Additionally, an ethical workplace houses the happiest employees, and that only makes your responsibilities as a leader easier to manage.

So first, let’s explore the benefits of ethical leadership.

The benefits of ethical leadership

Ethical leadership is defined as “putting people into management and leadership positions who will promote and be an example of appropriate, ethical conduct in their actions and relationships in the workplace.” In other words, each day, you’re tasked with modeling ethical conduct, performing with integrity and purpose and forming working relationships that start from a moral foundation.

As an ethical leader, you make it easier for your workforce to follow in your footsteps and contribute to positive company culture. Ethical leadership helps raise your team’s morale, gets each person excited about their work and ensures they’re valued. It also steers your company away from any future scandals and other unethical situations.

All in all, a fully functional, highly efficient remote team is dependent on ethical leadership. Your workforce is likely to be more productive, reliable and motivated with this style of leadership, despite not being in the office.

What ethical leadership looks like in a remote workforce

Ethical leadership looks different in each remote workforce, but here are four general principles to foster that are foundational for ethical leadership.

1.   Two-way communication

Ethical leaders encourage open lines of communication - even more so if their workforces are remote. But ethical leadership requires not just an open-door communication policy, but a commitment to two-way communication. In other words, you should be listening to your employees just as much as they’re listening to you.

Leadership isn’t a dictatorship, so ensure your employees are on board with honest, consistent communication. For instance, hold regular one-to-one virtual meetings to check in with them personally and professionally. Always gather feedback from your team through email surveys and group meetings and have honest conversations about the company’s direction, job security and plans to support them now.

Ethical leadership in your remote workforce also looks like a whole lot of trust between you and your employees.

2.   Trust

Navigating company culture change like shifting to remote work presents unique challenges—one of those being gauging productivity. Many company leaders depended on seeing their employees every day to determine whether they met their productivity goals for the day,  but they can’t anymore with a remote workforce. Still, the need to ensure your team is getting things done stands.   

Instead of micro-managing the heck out of your team, demanding immediate email responses, expecting daily productivity calls and requiring the completion of unrealistic project goals, work with your employees to come up with the best workflow. Ethical leadership means trusting your team members.

Trust that you have a team ready to work together despite being in different locations. Trust that each employee is more than capable of doing their job, and encourage them to be self-motivated, self-taught and ultimately self-sufficient in their remote workspace. 

Ethical leaders also ensure that each employee has equal access to everything they need to perform their job duties successfully.

3.   Accessibility

As much trust as you give your employees to take ownership of their productivity, you’ll still need to ensure everyone has what they need when working remotely. Accessibility is a huge part of ethical leadership. This is because ethical leaders always prioritize the seamless function of the team over individual wants and needs, and that means ensuring everyone has access to the same quality tools, devices, software, documentation and leadership support.

So, keep everything your team uses to function organized either digitally, physically or both. Keep track of who has access to what, And check in with your team often to ask questions about accessibility and if there’s anything you can do to better their experience.

And finally, ensuring your team members are safe and secure during their remote work is also evidence of ethical leadership in practice.

4.   Security and safety

All ethical leadership practices are intertwined with safety and security in some way. When leading a remote workforce, ensuring your employees are safe and secure should be a top priority. Educate your team on cybersecurity measures, best practices for working on a public network or how to ensure they have a secure network at home.

You should also educate your team on safety practices in remote work environments. Just like in-person work can result in workplace injuries, remote work can lead to its own injuries and accompanying expenses. Ethical leaders managing a remote workforce have the same obligation to ensure workplace safety. So, ensure your employees are taking breaks to preserve their mental health, that their home offices are equipped to house any workplace technology safely and that they’re prioritizing their physical health.

Ultimately, ensuring your remote workforce’s safety and security shows that you care about their well-being. This encourages them to work harder for you and trust your leadership even more. 

Final thoughts

Ethical leadership steers your remote workforce in the direction of measurable productivity, consistent growth and noticeable efficiency. Mirror what ethical leadership looks like by implementing the tips above.

Indiana Lee

Indiana Lee is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest with a passion for covering workplace issues, social justice, politics, and more. You can follow her work on Contently, or reach her at [email protected]


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