Building Trust and Influence Remotely: A Guide for Fractional Executives

Ditch the cubicle. Start worksploring.

I once reported to a CMO for a large Fortune 500 brand. At an all-hands meeting for the marketing department, he introduced the concept of “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey. He argued that as a marketing department and an organization, trust was a critical factor for us to succeed.

Fast forward a few years and with the complexities of remote leadership, trust becomes invaluable.

In a world where fractional executives manage teams across the digital expanse, the principles outlined by Covey in The Marketing Journal serve as a powerful starting point. He argues convincingly that trust is a fundamental, measurable competency that leaders can develop.

Standing on the shoulders of Covey’s framework, aiming to go deep into the practicalities of nurturing trust without the traditional face-to-face interactions.

This guide will chart a course for fractional executives to lead with confidence, fostering a culture of high trust across their multiple commitments. For further details on Covey’s interview, you can read the full article titled, “The Trust Crisis: What Do Leaders Do Now”.

Understanding the Challenges of Remote Trust-Building

The absence of face-to-face communication is often cited as a significant barrier to building trust in remote environments. Misunderstandings are more common when nuances of tone and body language are lost in digital communication.

Additionally, establishing personal connections, so vital for trust, becomes more challenging when interactions are confined to screens. Furthermore, the dynamics of remote team culture can complicate the integration of a fractional executive into the organization, making the task of influence even more daunting.

The Foundation of Trust

Trust, in the context of remote work, hinges on three critical components: consistency, transparency, and empathy. Consistency in communication and actions builds reliability; transparency fosters openness and honesty, while empathy ensures understanding and connection with team members’ feelings and perspectives.

The intersection of these elements lays the groundwork for effective leadership and cohesive teams, even in a digital realm.

Strategies for Building Trust Remotely

1. Clear and Consistent Communication

Regular check-ins and updates form the backbone of effective remote leadership. Choosing the right communication tools is crucial—video calls for team meetings can create a more personal touch, while instant messaging apps facilitate quick, informal conversations.

Accessibility and responsiveness further demonstrate commitment, showing team members that their leader is there for them, even if not physically present.

2. Demonstrating Competency and Reliability

Fractional executives must showcase their ability to lead and deliver results from day one. Sharing stories of past successes can help build credibility, while consistently meeting deadlines and fulfilling promises proves reliability.


When challenges arise, addressing them head-on and providing clear solutions can solidify trust in leadership capabilities.

3. Fostering Transparency and Honesty

Open dialogue is essential in remote settings. Being transparent about challenges the team or company faces, as well as being honest about one’s limitations, can foster a culture of trust.

Encouraging feedback and sharing company goals and updates transparently ensures everyone feels informed and valued.

4. Cultivating Personal Connections

Building personal connections with team members can bridge the gap created by physical distance.

Taking the time to learn about individual team members’ lives outside of work, celebrating personal milestones, and organizing virtual team-building activities can create a sense of community and belonging.

5. Techniques for Influencing Remotely

Influence in a remote environment requires demonstrating a strong work ethic and commitment, empowering team members by delegating authority, encouraging decision-making, and providing constructive feedback.

Leading by example, showing dedication to the organization’s success, and supporting professional growth are key strategies for inspiring and influencing remote teams.

6. Overcoming Common Pitfalls

Micromanagement can be a tempting approach in remote settings, yet it often undermines trust. Establishing clear expectations and accountability measures, while allowing for autonomy, strikes the right balance.

Additionally, navigating time zone differences and ensuring work-life balance requires flexibility and understanding from fractional executives. Cultural sensitivity and inclusivity are also paramount in global remote teams, ensuring every team member feels valued and included.

7. Measuring the Impact of Trust and Influence

Setting and tracking KPIs related to team engagement and productivity can help fractional executives gauge the effectiveness of their trust-building efforts. Soliciting regular feedback from team members and stakeholders provides invaluable insights into areas for improvement.

Adjusting leadership strategies based on this feedback ensures continuous growth and effectiveness in the role.

Let’s wrap up

The role of a fractional executive comes with its unique set of challenges, especially when it comes to building trust and influence remotely. However, by focusing on clear communication, demonstrating reliability, fostering transparency, and cultivating personal connections, these leaders can overcome the barriers of physical distance. The foundation of trust they build not only enhances team cohesion and productivity but also ensures their success across multiple organizations.

As we navigate the complexities of the modern work environment, the ability to adapt and evolve in our approach to leadership will continue to be a critical factor in achieving organizational success. For fractional executives, mastering the art of building trust and influence remotely is not just a skill—it’s an essential component of their role in shaping the future of business.

Now, we turn the conversation over to you. Have you experienced the challenges of building trust and influence remotely, either as a fractional executive or team member? What strategies have you found effective? Share your insights and experiences in the comments below, and let’s continue to learn from each other. For those looking to delve deeper into the world of remote leadership, consider exploring additional resources and training opportunities to enhance your skills in this critical area.

To my fellow fractional executives who require tools to solve business challenges, remember: With the right method and persistence, you can reshape your business success. In the Fractional Officer Method™, I cover the art of transitioning from the corporate job to a successful fractional executive by sharing a framework, tools, and resources to save you months of trial and error.

Best of luck, to all that are on the Fractional Executive journey. Let’s set the standard of fractional success together!

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