Updated: Mar 18
Know your team can produce more in less time?
Are you spotting gaps but unsure how to fill them?
Are team members taking a long time to reply and engage with peers?
Virtual leadership is full of challenges that aren’t native to even the most natural manager.
Read the following seven considerations I’ve found to be of most impact in leading remote teams.
Most directors and team leaders are wasting huge amounts of time and energy because their message isn’t getting through. This is because they are communicating exactly the same way online, as they would in-person.
They lead, everyone listens. End of call.
Seminar, webinar and lecture styles are not effective for learning. They’re not effective for leadership.
Digital and face to face communication are similar but different.
We need to stimulate and engage peoples’ interests differently.
A framework I use is; R.E.I.R (laugh in Spanish).
Take the first 2-5 mins to recognise and check in with each individual, both by you as group lead and between peers. Ask appropriate personal questions, share a fun fact or even some humour can be a great way to start.
Invite colleagues to ask each other, taking the attention off you.
Let them feel seen and valued.
Make this a routine for every meeting that they can start without your approval or presence.
Yes, you can lead the discussion but you don’t need to be the guru and centre of all knowledge.
Get them involved. Recap previous tasks, ask for reports, updates and information regarding the agenda.
Ask for opinion, feedback or suggestions where necessary.
Play the role of facilitator or guide rather than authoritarian. Keep people on their toes with a free-flowing discussion or digital tools like polls or surveys, for all to participate in.
While you’ve got ideas flowing and people talking, are they talking to you, amongst themselves, or both?
Encourage dialogue between team members. Create short, fiery focus groups to brainstorm and shoot out solutions in breakout rooms.
You don’t need to be at the centre of the discussion. Direct it, like a conductor of the orchestra.
Set a timer to ring 5 mins before the meeting ends. This attracts attention and regroups everyone around you.
Elicit the findings discovered and coordinate next steps together.
Minutes should have been saved using a recording tool (e.g Otter.ai) and shared via cloud system for everyone’s access.
One of the biggest challenges to leading remote teams is creating a genuine connection between colleagues.
When we are around other people, we pick up and respond to each other’s positive or negative energy which deeply impacts the end result of what we’re working on.
Sitting behind a screen creates a barrier that filters this energy. Not all of it can get through because we can only see and interact with a “limited amount of the other person”.
Check in with people (and even clients) not only when you need them but to see how they are progressing, or not. Listen to their concerns and commend their achievements. Be present.
Video messages and live calls on a semi-frequent basis are an easy and effective way to do this.
Control (or lack of)
The old school style of management is highly correlated with control but these days, our leadership methodology has evolved and these two factors are becoming stronger, the more separate they are.
Allow me to explain one example.
Working remotely means being in a different location to that of your office or HQ. Colleagues are not sharing the same environment.
Management doesn’t have any control over anyone’s environment.
At the blink of an eye or the click of a mouse, a teammate may scan email or instant message while supposedly listening to you.
Effectively, you don’t have control over their attention or actions.
So how do we capture our team’s focus and ensure they’re on task, remotely?
Fight and argue? Reprimand? Burn at the stake?
Leverage what you can control more effectively: your leadership approach and expectations.
Adjusting your leadership approach remotely often means giving more trust. You’ve hired your people for a reason, allow them to justify your decision.
Allow them the autonomy to achieve the OKRs or KPIs laid out for them.
Support them where needed but lead from distance. Let them know your door is always open but also that you’re not going to go looking for them.
Deposit in the trust bank and build up those reserves.
“I believe the leadership skills and management styles workforces today require are vastly different from those leaders familiar with face-to-face management have used.” - Deepa Nagraj
As industries and services become more and more competitive, what helps one survive and thrive is constant creativity.
Creativity is personalised. It's bespoke. It's pure. It is your own intellectual property which adds unparalleled value to your offer.
This applies to remote leaders too, whether a business owner, team leader or digital nomad.
"In the virtual world, leaders should be creative and efficient and experiment with various management styles to communicate effectively with their co-workers" says Deepa Nagraj.
Transformative leaders are not afraid to dream up new solutions and experiment. They do not hold back from sharing and receiving opinion from their people.
Transformative leaders lead with courage, empathy and creativity to achieve the big-picture goals while ensuring the process is positive and beneficial to all involved.
A key theme for efficiency but also for building trust and therefore confidence in each other, the team and the company.
Team members need to know the, what, where, how, when and why of everything they are doing.
Frameworks, guidelines, regular surveys and systems are absolutely fundamental and your solutions to effective and efficient virtual leadership.
The good news is there is an abundance of simple to use and easy to install software that can instantly impact your company. Try them.
For one and for all…
An insightful idea employed by one of Italy’s leading places to work, Mónade, is if one team member is working remotely, the entire team connects remotely, regardless of whether they’re in the same office.
Account Manager, Sabrina Scarpati shared, "Everyone shares the exact same experience so nobody feels excluded."
This truly serves to create an inclusive, strong team bond that most companies are envious of.
Culture & Community
Probably the holy grail of remote companies is building a supportive community.
This can only be achieved if the right e-culture is in place. One that inspires and motivates employees to be ambassadors.
What type of community does your company need and what are the benefits?
A company community can serve multiple purposes. It can be leveraged to increase social interaction and relationships, provide a safe space to share or simply a collection of common interests or social goal.
Whichever it is, it must be people-centred.
A circle that people voluntarily opt-in because they see value in being there with others. A circle where they can contribute as well as take. A circle that is judgement-free and an area of possibility.
Practising the 7 Cs fosters a healthy e-culture, cultivating proud internal ambassadors.
Your brand will soon become known as the company to work for, where people are treated not just fairly but encouraged to use their individuality as a tool for success.
Which did you identify with most strongly and which will you implement first?
PS Whenever you are ready to develop your business and create results at work and in your personal life, let's explore your ambitions and potential challenges together.