The Long-Distance Leader with Wayne Turmel

Do you lead teams where members aren’t physically present? Teams become more and more geographically diverse, in addition to other types of diversity. But often, geographic separation presents unique challenges to leadership. Wayne Turmel co-founded the Remote Leadership Institute and co-authored, with Kevin Eikenberry, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.

I had the opportunity to interview Wayne about succeeding as a remote leader. Check out the video recording of our conversation and the notes and links below.


19 Rules for Long-Distance Leaders

At the 3:15 mark, I asked Wayne for a tip or a big win. Wayne mentioned the book contains 19 rules for remote leaders. The first rule Wayne mentioned was that we need to focus primarily on leadership first and location second. He called this rule “a blinding flash of the obvious” again for obvious reasons. Great leadership is always great leadership, but our methods of leading with quality may change based on the limitations we experience, either geographic or any others. We can often use technology to give us places to hide rather than doing the hard work of being a good leader.

“Technology allows us to do some wonderful things, but it also allows us to do the wrong thing really easily.”

—Wayne Turmel, Remote Leadership Institute

At about the 5:50 mark, Wayne also mentioned that our beliefs and our self-talk have a greater influence on us when we work remotely. We need to set boundaries and do things to get accurate feedback and input so we don’t get too wrapped up in our own self-talk. We need to experience how others perceive us. When we get regular feedback, we don’t live in our own world.

Other Timeline Notes

  • 9:20 - HBR study about productivity of people who work from home. Includes some thoughts on the pluses and minuses of working from home.
  • 12:50 - What about remote “leadership” includes leading up to your managers, across to peers, and to people who report to you?
  • 14:52 - Technology complicates things. The percentage of work that comes from text instead of verbal has become the majority. Remote workers have very limited human interaction.
  • 16:41 - Leaders need to choose the best communication methods based on the message being sent.
  • 19:00 - Despite underestimated assessment of the problem, reactions to the book have been positive. Managers have been working harder and harder to make things work.
  • 21:30 - People with the problem tend to miss out on training like this. But those who are interested in getting better, can be examples to others.
  • 22:50 - Give people options. Many people are getting more familiar with newer technologies.
  • 25:24 - Contact information and book title.


Wayne Turmel is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur based in the Chicago area. He is the author of 6 nonfiction books, including Meet Like You Mean It: A Leader's Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings, and his first historical fiction novel, The Count of the Sahara.

His motto is, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. The rest of us are doomed too, but get to smile smugly and say told you so."

Check out Wayne Turmel (LinkedIn, Twitter, Remote Leadership Institute) and the book The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel.

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