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  • Writer's pictureDarren Cowlbeck

Evolution of Leadership Styles in the Era of Remote Working

Title: Evolution of Leadership Styles in the Era of Remote Working


The shift to remote working brought about by global events has significantly influenced leadership styles across organisations. This paper examines the transformation of leadership practices in response to remote working conditions, exploring key changes, challenges, and implications for organisational effectiveness. Drawing on empirical research and theoretical frameworks, it highlights adaptive leadership approaches and strategies that have emerged to support remote teams and foster resilience amidst uncertainty.


The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote working, challenging traditional leadership paradigms and necessitating adaptive responses from organisational leaders. This paper explores how leadership styles have evolved in the context of remote working, examining shifts in communication, decision-making, and employee engagement strategies.

Changes in Leadership Styles

1. Emphasis on Communication: Effective communication has become paramount in remote settings (Grant & Parker, 2009). Leaders have adapted by leveraging digital tools, scheduling regular check-ins, and fostering transparent communication channels to bridge physical distances and maintain team cohesion.

2. Shift towards Empathetic Leadership: Remote working has heightened the need for empathetic leadership, characterised by understanding and responding to employees' emotional needs (Mayer et al., 2008). Leaders who demonstrate empathy build trust, support well-being, and enhance morale among remote teams.

3. Focus on Results-Oriented Management: With physical presence no longer a measure of productivity, leaders have shifted towards results-oriented management (Bloom, 2014). This approach emphasises clear goal-setting, accountability, and outcomes-based performance evaluation to ensure productivity and effectiveness in remote work environments.

4. Promotion of Flexibility and Adaptability: Adaptive leadership styles have gained prominence, emphasising flexibility, agility, and the ability to navigate uncertainty (Northouse, 2018). Leaders who can pivot quickly, make informed decisions, and inspire confidence amidst change are better equipped to lead remote teams effectively.

Challenges and Considerations

1. Managing Virtual Teams: Leaders must navigate challenges related to virtual team dynamics, including communication barriers, team cohesion, and inclusivity (Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000). Strategies such as virtual team-building activities and cross-functional collaboration are essential for fostering a sense of belonging and engagement among remote teams.

2. Maintaining Organisational Culture: Remote working poses risks to organisational culture, as physical separation can weaken shared values and norms (Dawkins et al., 2017). Leaders must actively promote and reinforce organisational culture through virtual initiatives, storytelling, and aligning actions with core values.

3. Supporting Employee Well-being: Remote working can contribute to feelings of isolation and burnout among employees (Golden & Gish, 2018). Leaders play a critical role in supporting employee well-being by promoting work-life balance, offering mental health resources, and fostering a culture of care and support.

Implications for Organisational Effectiveness

Adaptive leadership styles in remote working environments contribute to organisational resilience, innovation, and employee satisfaction (Avolio & Gardner, 2005). By embracing new approaches to communication, empathy, flexibility, and results-oriented management, leaders can navigate challenges, capitalise on opportunities, and drive organisational success amidst evolving work dynamics.


The evolution of leadership styles in response to remote working reflects a paradigm shift towards adaptive, empathetic, and results-oriented approaches. Effective leadership in remote settings requires a blend of strategic vision, emotional intelligence, and proactive engagement to foster resilience and drive organisational effectiveness.


- Avolio, B. J., & Gardner, W. L. (2005). Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 315-338.

- Bloom, N. (2014). To raise productivity, let more employees work from home. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

- Dawkins, S., Martin, A., Scott, J., Sanderson, K., & Schüz, B. (2017). Workplace bullying and the association with suicidal ideation/thoughts and behavior: A systematic review. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 74(1), 72-79.

- Grant, A. M., & Parker, S. K. (2009). Redesigning work design theories: The rise of relational and proactive perspectives. Academy of Management Annals, 3(1), 317-375.

- Mayer, D. M., Aquino, K., Greenbaum, R. L., & Kuenzi, M. (2012). Who displays ethical leadership, and why does it matter? An examination of antecedents and consequences of ethical leadership. Academy of Management Journal, 55(1), 151-171.

- Maznevski, M. L., & Chudoba, K. M. (2000). Bridging space over time: Global virtual team dynamics and effectiveness. Organization Science, 11(5), 473-492.

- Northouse, P. G. (2018). Leadership: Theory and practice (8th ed.). SAGE Publications.

Keywords: leadership styles, remote working, adaptive leadership, empathetic leadership, organisational effectiveness

Evolution of Leadership Styles | Remote Working
Evolution of Leadership Styles

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