Too Lazy to Read? Top Leadership Podcasts for a Better Remote Work Life

Podcasts are one of a powerful tools to level up your business and leadership skills. It gives people a room to take lessons and stories in a personal and mindful way. You plug in headphones and experience the podcast in private while still interacting with and paying attention to the outside world. The most interesting part about podcasts is when you listen to the guests, who oftentimes are an expert in their field, sharing their insights and personal experience on your chosen topics. It’s like real-life advice that you won’t find on text-book, hand-book or any conventional learning tools. The experience of hearing a story from someone who has walked the talk can really affect the way you take in the lessons from a podcast.

Today, with remote work becoming more and more common, we can find more insights and real-life advice from several podcasts about the topic. Here we curate some podcasts that bring the ins and outs of remote work straight from the experts, have a listen to these great shows.

SPOILER ALERT* We’re about to reveal the plot details of the podcasts!

HBR IdeaCast : Taking on a Senior Leadership Role Remotely

In Taking on a Senior Leadership Role Remotely, Harvard Business Review invited Muriel Wilkins, cofounder of the executive coaching firm Paravis Partner to talk about the challenge of starting a new job remotely that usually faced by senior leaders. The premise of this podcast is about how senior leaders must focus on building connectivity and credibility while leading remotely. Through this podcast, as a remote team leader, you will learn the biggest thing to keep in mind if you are starting a new job remotely and the added pitfalls to look out for.

From her experience as a coach, Wilkins learned that there are two hurdles that must be overcome as leaders starting out their new role in a new company. One is how they effectively and quickly establish credibility and the other is also how they effectively and quickly establish their connectivity. The credibility part is learning about the organisation, assessing what’s working and what’s not working at times having to make decisions on day one. While the connectivity side to it is understanding and establishing their relationship and their presence with their team, their customers, their investors and broader organisation.

Amid these uncertain times, leaders have to focus on confidence of communication. Since the spontaneity and the impromptu moments that actually make up the human relationship are gone, leaders have to understand that they need to communicate and they need to adapt how they’re communicating and be proactive around that. When leaders are communicating, they should demonstrate their presence as a leader who has full knowledge of their team and the organisation as well as forging connections with the teams.

Wilkins breakdown three formulas for successful remote leadership, which are listen, prioritize and take action.  She emphasized that a successful leader must take a lot of time to ask questions, listen to people, give the team a chance to voice their opinion and work with the team to take the actions.

The thing that we love about this podcast is the idea of Zoom Tea Hours that Mulkin shares from her client’s experience. Zoom Tea Hours is like a small and intimate virtual gathering where the leader as well as the team are on zoom with a cup of tea, and it becomes the right moment to “spill the tea”. We learned an important point that a good remote team leader always creates a way to be both accessible and available as well as leave a room for unscheduled conversations with their team.

Leaders are required to be in tune and have their ears on the ground for what’s happening.”

Muriel Wilkins

Yonder: Remote Leadership Institute’s Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel, the co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute and co-author of a book called “The Long-Distance Leader” talked about richness and scope in communications, productivity, optimisation and tips for remote managers and leaders.

In reality, remote work has become a series of tasks and as long as the employees are doing the tasks they are assigned; the leader is going to assume that everything is fine. This situation has been discussed by The Harvard Review Study with the headline “Remote Workers Get More Done”. While it gives a green light for employees’ productivity, Wayne thinks that employees often suffer when it comes to the tasks that involve other people contributing to the group, brainstorming and collaborating.

There’s also an issue of remote employees that work too much. Wayne saw it happens for both right and wrong reasons. The right reasons might be because the employees actually do care about their work, their response is to be a proactive worker and a good teammate. Also, as remote workers, they have flexible time and more autonomy to decide whether they want to work on extra hours later because they need to deal with personal stuff first. The bad side is when there might be productivity barriers that the employee encounters. There might be situations where employees feel not getting as much done during the day (but of course they don’t want the boss to know) so they need to work extra midnight hours to show that they’re responsive and hard working. When this happens, Wayne reminds that as leaders, you need to allow people to be people and acknowledge that.

The interesting part that we like about this podcast is when Wayne told his story when he was working with a company in Silicon Valley and they had a rather unique problem. The employees are all the brilliant world class coders but the company couldn’t get anybody to take management positions. Everybody just loved being a coder. Why? Find out more on Yonder: Remote Leadership Institute’s Wayne Turmel!

The Remote Show Live with Dr. Tolonda M. Robert

For remote team leaders who want to optimise diversity, inclusion and equity, we highly recommend you to listen to The Remote Show Live with Dr. Tolonda M. Robert. She is the Co-Founder and Head of Strategy and Culture at Eskalera, Inc. She comes to the role with almost two decades of hands-on experience in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and culture change.

In this podcast, Dr  Tolanda talked about the realities of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in remote work environments. She gave many important insights including practical teams and actionable projects for improving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

One of the things she does at Eskalera is teach people social and emotional skills as well as emotional intelligence. It goes around managing emotions, identifying emotions and being able to build empathy and connect with people, understanding what triggers yourself in all of these kinds of things. According to Dr. T, emotional intelligence is an important skill that must exist in every organisation.

“Having emotional intelligence means having a growth mindset where you’re willing to see yourself as somebody that’s in process and constantly trying to improve yourself and learn more about yourself and how you work with others.”

Dr. Tolonda M. Robert

In reality, when it comes to a company structure D&I leadership, a lot of organizations recommend having a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer but many claim they often don’t have the resources to do their job effectively. Here, Dr T affirmed that people cannot become people managers unless they have good reviews on inclusion. How leaders work with people should be measured and should be something that is part of the competencies in order to move into leadership. Whenever leaders work around engagement or inclusion in an organization, it’s always necessary to have multiple ways of getting feedback and implement actionable things around that. Dr. T emphasized that in this case, leaders should keep that feedback loop consistent and make sure that it is a loop, not just the organizations telling people what they want to do. At Eskalera, the team and Dr. T believe that culture happens through people, not to people. So it’s important to involve the people in what’s happening and the change that you’d like to see.

Outside the Valley: Darren Murph (Gitlab) – Why Companies Should All Go Remote

Darren Murph is a head of remote at Gitlab, a book author, a Guiness World Record holder for most prolific professional blogger.  In Why Companies Should All Go Remote, he talked about why GitLab uses “all-remote” to describe the company’s remote identity, how hybrid model remote teams can lead to anxiety and guilt and why “story-telling ability” is essential in remote teams.

Darren has an interesting key takeaway of being intentional about the informal interaction. At Gitlab, the informal interaction is something that is formally designed. For example, on a monthly call with the marketing team, there is an agenda where employees bring something and show off on the webcam. It can be something that they built, something that their child or spouse created and just want to talk about it. It will kind of open the team up to seeing something that they’re passionate about. When people see the sides of others that they don’t normally see during the workday, that’s how bonds and relationships are built.

“The other part is we’re really intentional about in-person interactions. So it’s funny. We’re an all remote company, but I think we’re more intentional about when we get together than even companies that are co-located.”

Darren Murph

In co-located teams, sometimes there’s just a take-for-granted factor where people see everybody on a daily basis. While in all-remote companies like Gitlab, they get their entire company together every 9 to 12 months at a company summit called Contribute. This is a highly engaged activity that means so much for the employees. Like they cannot wait to get together and meet people in the flesh that they’ve worked with virtually.

We think all the remote team leaders should hear the real-life experience, insights and practical tips from someone who has the rare title of “Head of Remote” like Darren Murph.

Final Words

If you are already a podcast listener, make a space in your schedule to give these top remote leadership podcasts a chance. We hope that these shows can be a source of new knowledge and motivation for you to lead in a better way.

Did we miss a podcast that should be on the list? Feel free to share in the comment section!

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