Mark Cuban’s strategy for leading a remote team

We’re living in a strange period of time, what some are calling The Great Pause, As we all learn to adjust, it’s interesting how some experts and gurus have risen to the challenge. They are providing some key guidance that is helping everyone trying to work at home.

Recently, Mark Cuban spoke with the editors at LinkedIn about remote work and also posted in his own feed. The famous entrepreneur and Shark Tank host mentioned how leading a team during the pandemic can be quite challenging and we all have to work harder. 

Cuban first realized how serious this was going to be at a Nuggets-Mavericks game. He realized how business owners will need to be agile during these crazy times, and he decided to pay his employees as if the businesses were still running. He mentioned how businesses will have to work harder to find out how to keep operating and be creative about revenue.

In terms of a job search, he suggested that people will have to be agile about what they do and to be open to anything. What struck me about the talk, though, was related to leadership.

Fear is already at the core of what we do as managers and executives. There is fear about making ends meet in the business, about retaining employees, about staying open. That’s before the virus. In the new climate, fear is a driver (and a motivator).

As far as leading, Cuban said you have to be clear and honest.

“Be honest with your employees,” Cuban said. “Let them know what you know. Put yourself in their shoes and ask what they suggest. That is where your best ideas will come from.”

He suggested that leaders need to lead even more during the virus and to step up their communication even more to the point where there is even more clarity. We’re all talking through a video chat where you can’t read body language as easily, you can’t see what is causing distractions, and you can’t keep tabs on the productivity level.

“This is where you need to be a leader and communicator,” he said. “Get everyone together and brainstorm ideas. Maybe there is one that comes up that allows you to change the game.”

The question is how to be creative in leadership with remote workers. Cuban has proven how that works over the years. He is the king of leverage. He has branched out into many areas and yet somehow manages to keep the communication lines open. During the call, he mentioned how he has an office at the Dallas Mavericks stadium which helped in the old world but perhaps the key is to be just as strategic about leadership in the new environment.

You may not be able to have a remote office anymore — in some states like Michigan it might be downright illegal to do that — but you can “remote” into more meetings, you can hold more one-on-one chats, and you can hold more brainstorming meetings.

“When life is fubar you have to find a way to figure it out,” he says. That’s good advice.