As organizations face increasingly unique demands, organizations are trending towards physically dispersed and diverse teams. Virtual teams offer organizations a number of benefits, but they also create some challenges for leaders. The approach to leading virtual teams is different from that of leading a traditional, on-site team. As such, the roles and behaviors of leaders must be adjusted to better meet the unique needs and demands of the virtual team.
Virtual Leaders Ready for Today’s Challenges
Today, leaders of virtual teams face numerous challenges:
- Poor communication: Juggling various communication styles can become even more challenging in a virtual setting. Team members may have difficulty understanding what is expected of them and end up misaligned on expectations. Miscommunication may result in slow response times and distrust among team members.
- Lack of structure: Poor communication can also result in poor workflow and team structure. Teams may not fully understand set processes and procedures required to create high-quality services and products. Not to mention, this lack of structure may rob teams of the collaborative potential they possess.
- Absence of office culture: Maintaining an office culture can be challenging without an office. Team members may not speak to one another for days, making workforce members feel siloed. As a result, teams may lack the alignment and camaraderie needed to sustain an engaging and productive workforce.
In response to these challenges, CMOE has created the Virtual Leadership workshop, an interactive and skill-focused learning experience in which participants explore the timely and relevant issues that virtual leaders face: geographic distance, cultural differences—even boundaries that may exist within the organization itself.
The Virtual Leadership workshop offers participants powerful strategies, methods, and tools to use as they diagnose and address these and other issues, allowing leaders to better impact the organization’s bottom line through the contributions of their virtual-team members.
Not only do virtual-team leaders need to have strong, foundational leadership qualities, they must also be able to excel in the following areas:
- Adapt their communication style for various communication mediums
- Coach and give supportive and corrective feedback in a virtual setting
- Build relationships with virtual team members
- Create a team community and culture where barriers impacting the virtual team are minimized and alignment is created
Virtual leaders have a special responsibility to amplify traditional management skills and qualities that great leaders possess in order to help their virtual team members flourish and maximize the potential of the entire team.