6 Leadership Styles and Essential Skills for Leading Remote Teams

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As the rise of remote work has shifted the workplace paradigm, leaders must adapt their leadership styles to effectively manage and inspire teams in various online locations. In the virtual realm, where face-to-face interactions are limited, mastering the leadership style and skills required to direct your team is crucial for success. Here, we explore six leadership styles and the core skills required to lead an online team of remote workers.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their team by fostering a shared vision, encouraging creativity, and promoting a positive work environment. In a remote setting, it’s essential to leverage digital tools for effective communication, regularly articulate the team’s vision, and provide constructive feedback to keep the team engaged and aligned with organisational goals.

Skills: Effective communication, vision articulation, motivation, and feedback delivery.


Servant Leadership

Servant leaders prioritise the needs of their team members, aiming to support their growth and development. In a virtual workspace, leaders can demonstrate servant leadership by actively listening to their team, providing resources to facilitate their success, and fostering a culture of empathy and collaboration.

Skills: Active listening, empathy, resourcefulness, and collaboration.


Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leaders make decisions independently, without seeking input from the team. While this style may seem counterintuitive to remote work, it can be effective in situations that require quick decision-making. Online leaders adopting this style should ensure clear communication of expectations, deadlines, and guidelines to maintain efficiency.

Skills: Decisiveness, clarity in communication, and strategic thinking.


Democratic Leadership

Unlike autocratic leaders, democratic leaders involve their team in decision-making processes. In a virtual environment, this style can be applied by utilising collaborative tools, conducting virtual meetings for brainstorming sessions, and encouraging team members to share their insights. This fosters a sense of ownership and engagement.

Skills: Collaboration, open communication, and facilitation of virtual meetings.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leaders delegate authority to their team members, allowing them to take the lead on projects. In a remote setting, this leadership style can empower individuals to take ownership of their work. However, leaders must maintain a balance by providing guidance and support to ensure productivity and goal alignment.

Skills: Delegation, trust-building, and availability for support.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders focus on setting clear expectations and rewarding or correcting team members based on their performance. In a virtual workspace, leaders can utilise performance tracking tools, establish transparent performance metrics, and provide timely feedback to ensure accountability and productivity.

Skills: Performance tracking, feedback delivery, and goal-setting.


Effectively leading an online team of remote workers demands a nuanced approach that blends various leadership styles and skills. A successful leader in the digital era must be adaptable, communicative, and empathetic while leveraging technology to foster collaboration and maintain a cohesive team culture. By mastering these leadership styles and skills, leaders can navigate the challenges of leading remote teams and cultivate a thriving virtual work environment.

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