The world we now live in is no longer limited to the space around us, but has now evolved to a broader reach to people all around the globe whom we may never physically meet, yet, must inevitably have dealings with. Networking no longer has to be restricted to our physical space, we can now virtually network; with clients, as well as a virtual team – but you already know this, and that is why you are reading this piece. You not only want to interact but also be a valid and effective leader in your virtual team.
How Difficult Is It to Master the Art of Leadership?
Thankfully it’s not difficult at all – with the right attitude, behaviour and disposition, you will strengthen your leadership game in no time. Check out the tips below:
#1 Lead with Agreeability and Transparency
One major problem in the virtual world today is the challenge of connecting with people in the virtual space like we would with humans we meet in our real-life experiences. There is a sort of disconnect between ourselves and the people we meet online; but, to be a good leader in the online world, you must learn to effectively manage your relationship with your virtual team and clients in a way that you run a firm ship, yet, remain the MVP. You must learn to be agreeable and open; this means that:
- Keeping positive relationships are more relevant to you than being right,
- You give others the benefit of the doubt,
- You communicate to LISTEN as well as share ideas,
- You aim for a situation where everybody wins, not just you,
- You’re open to constructive criticism,
- You’re aware that technology, distance and the online space gives room for miscommunication; hence, you are thoughtful in responding to conflicts.
An agreeable and transparent leader creates a positive atmosphere for his clients to relate better with and put in their best in the partnership.
#2 Engage Your Virtual Audience
One of the best ways you can show your virtual clients that you’re trustworthy is to show them that you’re also human, and what better way to do so than to engage them often on topics of interest? According to Forbes, ‘in a face-to-face professional meeting, the most fruitful interactions come from lively discussions. The same is true in the bits-and-bytes world of networking.’ You need to get involved with your virtual colleagues and clients. Although this may take some extra effort on your part, there is a need to inquire and get feedback on previously delegated tasks or discussed issues. This interaction helps for more relaxed rapport between you and them, and also makes allowance for effective communication as vague concepts are made clear and intentions are easier to understand. You may engage your virtual audience by:
- Getting to know who they are, both off and online,
- Understanding their interests, values and ideas,
- Bringing forward a mutual topic of interest for banter sake, or to diffuse unease and tension,
- Sharing a glimpse of your personal life with them; for example, telling them about your newly adopted pet, or your love for hiking.
When you let them see you as a human, and not an online, obscure, faceless person, the avenue to grow trust and feel safe in the virtual environment increases enormously.
#3 Master this Necessary Virtue: Patience
You CANNOT manage a virtual team, and afford to be impatient; you may have burnouts too frequently to be productive. It would be great if you always remember that many factors make up a virtual team and client base. One of them is the distance or location. Although a virtual team is as legitimate as an ideal office location, proximity is different. There may be a delay in passing of information, the delegation of assignments, etc. and all of these may not align with the time you have allotted for them. This delays can be genuinely frustrating, and a leader who lacks patience may find themselves repeatedly being hostile and angry at their team, which may, in turn, lead to venting at clients. This is where accountability comes to play; as a good leader, to avoid continually bearing down on your team, you must:
- Properly delegate responsibility and if possible, assign members of your team as ‘Team Leads’,
- Learn to hold your team accountable, especially team leads when a department is drawing the team back,
- Remember that things would take more time to accomplish due to the challenge of distance and proximity,
- Make use of project management tools to ease up, speed up, and track the productivity of members of the team.
Patience and accountability are vital qualities any leader must possess to steer their ship; however, as the leader of a virtual team, you must deliberately and consciously make use of them. The points mentioned above would also help with maintenance and efficiency.
#4 You Must Be Tech-Savvy
Just so that you don’t miss this, let us go over it for emphasis. It would be utterly abominable for a ‘successful’ virtual team leader to be ‘lost’ amidst technological paraphernalia for virtual work. You cannot lead a dominantly technological space and a team of technologically inclined people, or engage with clients via these technological platforms, and not be tech-savvy. An excellent virtual leader must have a firm grasp of the technological equipment, online platforms, applications, terminologies, systems, tools and project management that help to get the job done. You must make an effort to understand it thoroughly, interact with it and keep abreast of the changes taking place in the tech world if you want to be on the cutting edge and retain your clients.
These attributes in a leader not only foster a cordial client-company relationship, but it also improves the rate of success among team projects and builds a stronger, happier team relations.
Author’s Bio: Cheryl Hearts is a talented journalist from Boston, Massachusetts. From an early age, she was into writing so she decided to make it her career. Obtaining a Master’s Degree in Journalism has boosted her desire to grow as a journalist and currently she contributors to major media publications. Cheryl also runs her blog CherylHearts.com where she shares her opinion on topics trending in modern society.