• 5 qualities required for leading developers at a distance

    Personal på Indpro.

    Leadership is always challenging – but leading distributed teams is even more demanding. We see five important qualities that a project manager needs when leading a team of developers at a distance. Here’s our list of what a long distance leader needs to be – and why.

    1 Clear

    Being clear in how you express yourself and how you lead meetings is necessary when leading at a distance. Sometimes being clear means setting up a structure for meetings, with routines for when and how the meetings will be held. Being clear also means that all stakeholders in a project should know what the project manager expects of them.

    Of course all project managers need to be clear, but when many meetings are held online it’s even more important.

    2 Communicative

    Good communication is an important characteristic for any project manager, and when leading at a distance you definitely need to be a skilled communicator. You need to ensure that you have been understood, and that you have understood the other stakeholders correctly. A good way to avoid misunderstandings is to summarize what you have heard from the client or the team, and ask if your summary was correct.

    3 Responsive

    A leader should not only make him- or herself understood by others – he or she should also understand the stakeholders in a project.

    The ability to perceive signals and take not of the opinions of different stakeholders is always important for a project manager. But being open to others is especially important when you do not see each other, and can’t read the facial expressions during a discussion. If possible, take meetings over video conference as this will make communication easier.

    Another dimension of long distance work is that more than one culture is often involved. A project manager that leads distributed teams have great use of the ability to perceive when words and concepts have different meanings for different stakeholders.

    4 Organized

    A project manager should always be well organized, but leading developers at a distance stresses the importance of planning. The developers need to know what they are expected to work on, and when the project manager is not sitting next to them ready to answer their questions, a clear and structured plan is needed to avoid losing speed.

    If you work in different time zones, planning is even more important as the project manager may not be available during the full duration of the team’s work day.

    5 Tech savvy

    It’s always good to have a technical background when you lead developers. Surely it’s possible to be a non-techie project manager and let an IT architect handle the technical discussions with the client and the team. But when you lead teams of developers at a distance, it’s significantly easier if you’re not only a project manager – but a technical project manager.

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