I recently conducted a webinar on “Leading virtual teams” and asked the participants if they received training on how to transition from a co-located manager to a virtual team manager.
100% said NO!
When Covid-19 hit, most managers had to transition almost overnight from leading co-located to leading virtual teams and moreover to leading multi-cultural teams across cultures, time zones, and technology.
Giving leaders the skills necessary to work effectively is one of the biggest challenges of global organizations today.
Global leadership involves being able to identify and maximize one’s abilities as a leader, recognize and adapt to the various demands of a diverse global workforce, and retain the unique perspectives and talents of a team in a collaborative way.
Deloitte Denmark detailed eight principles for mastering virtual leadership:
- Re-ignite team purpose & clarify roles
While often ignored, revisiting your purpose and team roles is vital to virtual teams and will drive direction and provide a sense of belonging. These tasks become even more important for leaders when moving to virtual with a need for a greater intentional, clear, and structured approach.
- Establish a new rhythm
Make new traditions. The first 30 days as a virtual team will determine how you work together for as long as the team lasts. Make sure to deliberately decide what should and should not become a tradition for your team.
- Track capacity & progress
Awareness of your team’s individual and collective capacity and having a continuous overview of task progression is key to engagement and productivity. However, getting it right requires extreme discipline and consistent use of technology.
- Leverage technology to collaborate
70% of business professionals expect the use of online collaboration platforms to increase in the future. Virtual teams truly need to explore and incorporate technology into their ways of working to succeed.
- Be visible & check-in frequently
Virtual distance can lower your team member’s trust by 83%, the ability to innovate by 93%, and engagement by 80%. To counter this distance, you need to make yourself available.
- Strategically over-communicate
Leaders often question how they should communicate with their teams virtually, which typically results in radio silence. However, there is no such thing as communicating too much when it comes to virtual leadership.
- Empower & promote self-leadership
Leading remotely presents a paradox, as you need to keep the full overview, but you cannot lead everything all at once. Instead, you will have to build trust with, and empower your team to, take action and initiative to keep the wheels turning.
- Ensure well-being
The well-being of your team members is critical to their engagement. Yet, well-being is considerably challenged by the virtual nature of your team, and you need to be more alert than ever to create the right conditions.
As organizations become more globally oriented and the nature of leadership changes from managing processes to enabling individuals to be their best, global leadership is becoming more important than ever.
Fortunately, leaders can be developed. With proper training, almost anyone can become an excellent global leader, leading teams to high performance, guiding organizations toward success, and maximizing one’s own career opportunities along the way.