Leading Virtual Teams - Webinar: Top Tips

Leading Virtual Teams


Leading Virtual Teams

Virtual teams often evolve rather than get planned that way. Whether you consciously decide to set up a virtual team or your virtual team has evolved, it's likely to be in response to the coronavirus pandemic, when governments imposed restrictions on travel and social interaction. As a leader and member of a virtual team, you can benefit from greater flexibility and freedom from many of the constraints of office working. On the flip side, you face the challenge of leading the team virtually. Like any conventional team, a virtual team consists of a group of people who interact to complete interdependent tasks and work towards a common goal. But instead of working in the same office, the team members work in different places, often at home, and in different time zones. You and your team members will face many challenges. Issues and difference can arise because of team members' different cultures and backgrounds. Each person has different expectations, different experience and different working styles. The team must work hard to ensure each person can contribute effectively and to ensure the team pulls together towards the common goal. Without the benefits of face-to-face communication and casual chat, leaders must actively and regularly communicate direction, ensure that team members know what they need to know, and that make sure that team members feel supported and appreciated. When managed effectively, your business and your team members will be able to enjoy the successes and benefits of working in a virtual team. Done properly, there can be huge advantages to virtual team work.


Leading Virtual Teams

To succeed, it starts with you:

Lead by Example When leaders lead by example, you create a picture of what is possible making it easier for your team to follow you. Self-Motivation Simon Sinek, an author and self- described optimist shares his take on how great leaders inspire action. At the center of his Golden Circle is the idea that motivation, or the “why” of doing things, makes the most impact. “ People don’t buy what you do.” Sinek says . “They buy why you do it .” Share your Calendar Sharing your calendar with your team makes planning projects or scheduling meetings easier. Team member do not have to contact each person individually to schedule a meeting. It saves time and boosts productivity. Personal Time Make sure you are actually taking time off work and if you're taking time off, use it wisely. Spend at least a portion of the day unwinding in constructive and effective ways. Collaborative System Use a platform to keep you connected and unite teams in order to communicate and efficiently achieve their work, task, and/or goals that are being worked on. Some examples are MS Teams, WhatsApp, etc Time Management Plan and exercise conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.


Leadership Styles Generally speaking there are 6 Leadership Styles that leaders can apply with teams. When leading virtual teams, especially during a crisis, we have to decide what makes sense for that moment in time:

Authoritative/Visionary Leadership inspires people by focusing on long-term goals. An effective visionary leader listens to the values held by the individuals within the group, and thus can explain his or her overall goals for the organization in a way that wins their support.

Use this style when organization/company seems to be drifting. Authoritative leadership is most effective in vision casting and when providing clarity for the vision.

Affiliative describes leadership that creates a warm, people-focused working atmosphere. An Affiliative leader listens to discover peoples' emotional needs, and strives to honor and accommodate those needs in the workplace.

Pace-Setting Leadership sets ambitious goals and continually monitors progress towards those goals.

When a business or department is in need of quick results from a group that is already highly motivated and competent. This means the motivation that is driving the leader must also exist among the team.

Coaching Leadership helps people assume responsibility that leads to the organization's success. An effective coaching leader listens carefully to others, establishes personal rapport and trust, and helps their people find out how their performance matters and where they can find additional information and resources.


Leadership Styles

Democratic Leadership obtains input and commitments from everyone in the group. When faced with uncertainty about how to proceed, a leader elicits fresh ideas and renewed participation by faithfully listening to everyone's opinions and information. This type of leadership style forges consensus by asking questions and allowing participation on a democratic basis.

This style works best in situations when group members are skilled and eager to share their knowledge. Have plenty of time to allow people to contribute, develop a plan, and then vote on the best course of action.

Coercive Leadership issues instructions without asking for input about what is to be done or how. It is obvious that the "do it because I say so" approach requires no listening at all. This type of leadership style is based on demanding immediate compliance with the leader's instructions.

Daniel Goleman in his article "Leadership That Gets Results" Harvard Business Review, asserts, " Leaders who have mastered four leadership styles described earlier — especially the Authoritative, Democratic, Affiliative and Coaching styles — have the best climate and business performance”. Daniel Goleman summarizes his article by saying, " The business environment is continually changing and a leader must respond in kind. Hour to hour, day to day, week to week, executives must play their leadership styles like a golf professional — using the right golf club, one just at the right time and in the right measure. The payoff is in the results. "


Virtual Leadership Traits

With the pandemic, all of a sudden many managers across the world have found themselves doing something they had probably never thought of - leading a virtual team - with very little or no preparation. And despite being thrown into the deep end, the load is on them to get the work done one way or another.

Here are some tips

• Respond to the environment before it forces change on you. • Build Relationship • Be flexible and proactive

• Be Open & Tolerant to new ideas • Reacts to change without rigidity • Defy status quo

• Plan for uncertainties • Clarify expectations

• Focus on Results • Turn up the trust • Create actionable meetings • Be patient • Create a sense of ownership • Share best practices


Effective Teams Clusters

Effective teams have four clusters, and leaders have to successfully navigate all four at any one time. For the purpose of virtual team leadership (and the current crisis), we’re focused on the primary cluster: Direction. This is where a team’s vision binds people together.

Leadership Cluster

Ethos Cluster

Direction Cluster

Skills Cluster

Direction Cluster • Everyone identifies with the vision • Success criteria is shared • The team is organized around its success criteria • Everyone is willing to change instantly • The team can overcome obstacles

Leadership Focus Areas

Team vision illuminates the team’s purpose so that all members are completely clear about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how their work relates to what they personally believe in. Members see themselves as part of a larger whole and they see where they fit in. Day-to- day activities have more meaning because it is clear how they contribute to the greater welfare of the team. Take time to revisit your team vision to give your team the energy boost it needs, especially with the change from physical work space into a virtual space. Vision is not a one-time activity. Your team vision needs to be revisited regularly to generate excitement and engagement.


Leadership Focus Areas

Successful leaders have to focus on 5 areas to succeed in leading virtual teams: • Relationship Management • Productivity • Quality

• Continuous Learning • Team/Company Pulse

Each of these is critical to success in leading virtual teams. We have opted to focus on 3 of these areas for the purpose of the information shared with our attendees, and are highlighted in this section.

Relationship Management is about your ability to bring out the best in others. It is the ability to inspire and influence your team, your ability to communicate and build bond with them, and your ability to help them change, grow, develop, and resolve conflict.

Building Trust using the Trust Equation

The basis of any good relationship is trust. You will never build a good relationship with a person you do not trust.

+ Reliability


Credibility +



Credibility is earned by expertise, by the ability to obtain the required expertise, and by being up-front about one’s limitations. Reliability is consistency and dependability. Reliable individuals provide a sense of comfort to the people around them. Intimacy is not about revealing personal details, but rather about making the business of the organization personal and understanding the sensitivities of others.


Leadership Focus Areas

Self-orientation is the degree to which one focuses on one’s own concerns when interacting with others. Self-orientation decreases trustworthiness. Those who are motivated by duty or achievement tend to be more self-oriented than those motivated by meaning or who gain pleasure from the work itself. Higher the self orientation, lower the trust. As we continue to communicate and build relationship virtually, there are three thigs we have to remember:


It is our job, as leaders, to frame the bigger picture so that the communication lands the way it is intended.

Set the context so that communication lands the way, it was intended. Use the 3Ps of framing - purpose, process and permission. Provide the purpose of what we are doing, the process of doing so and the permissions that are required based on what we are looking for.

Placing is letting your team know where we are, what was covered/accomplished and where you are headed as a team

Presence is being there for your team and giving your full attention to what is going on here and now. It is also important to listen intently.


Leadership Focus Areas

5 Levels of Listening

When you’re a good listener, you pick up information quickly and accurately, you avoid misunderstandings and conflict, and you find it easy to build firm friendships with the people you work with. Others feel comfortable coming to you with their ideas; and this means that you can work with them to solve key problems. However, many people are not so good listeners. They let their attention drift, they form their answers before they’ve fully listened to the other person, and that can be more challenging in a virtual space.






Ignoring: When we are “listening” at this level, we are not really listening at all. This may happen both consciously and subconsciously in situations when we are busy doing something, when we tired, we are stressed we are upset and decide to withdraw emotionally, or when our body has arrived home from work – but our brain has not. Pretending: At this level we pretend that we are listening. We are in a pastime or small talk situation. We answer in order not to be impolite. We ask questions, but we are not really interested in the answers. Selective : When we practise selective listening, we only hear certain parts of the conversation.


Leadership Focus Areas

Attentive: When we listen at this level, we are paying undivided attention to the other person without distractions of any kind. But we focus on the words that are being said. We are not listening beyond the words. Empathic : Very few of us ever practise the fifth level which is the highest form of listening and the hardest to accomplish. Empathic listening means listening with the intent to understand. This means seeking first to understand, to really understand the other person’s motives, wishes and situation. Empathic listening gets inside another person’s frame of reference. It means seeing the world the way the other person sees the world. It means understanding and feeling how the other person is feeling. While it is challenging for leaders to constantly practice empathic listening, it is important to realize that at times we tend to go up and down the listening levels. It is important that we recognize where we are and know that in virtual team meetings, it is important that we remain attentive and empathic to our teams.


Leadership Focus Areas

Productivity can be a struggle for some companies that have not been working remotely or virtually. Making sure your workers stay productive five days a week can certainly be a gray area.

Recognize that the world of facts and feelings exist - that there is the bottom line world and beyond the bottom line world. Effectively managing your virtual teams’ productivity entails not only managing production, schedules, sales and their numbers, but at the same time you are looking at their teamwork, innovation, commitment, flexibility, responsibility, etc. As a leader, you must engage your team in both levels.






Leadership Focus Areas

Replicate the dynamics of a physical team and apply it to your virtual team

Have weekly meetings, and daily if needed, with video capability as much as possible

Get the skills you want from your team members and make sure they’re growing

Share results on a regular basis, as you would normally. They need to do the same

Keep the team updated any information

Schedule your one-on-ones, make sure they’re in your calendar and treated as a face-to-face meeting

If you hung out at the office, you can do the same virtually


Leadership Focus Areas

Quality . Moving from a physical work space to a virtual one has an impact on the quality of our work. Most people do not understand what is expected of them as some companies and organizations did not have contingencies on processes. Most employees

Leading virtual teams and working from home to some people is change, and as leaders, we must recognize where our people are in this cycle find themselves dealing with tasks on their own in a remote working environment. One component of quality is change management. Change Management

Denial is the most common reaction to change. However with the Covid19 pandemic, most of us are way beyond the denial phase. However, many people are in the Resistance Phase. They are convinced that everything will go back to the old ways. And that is where the problem with quality of work lies. They

are no longer looking for ways to improve the work and the quality of what we do because things are going back to normal. Resistance is a critical stage, as it is the where the productivity, morale, and competency of the employees decline.

As a leader, your job is move them to the Exploring Phase as quickly as possible and to help them do that, you need to set the standard for quality.

We have to apply the same standard as that of the Olympic standard with our virtual teams. We have to define for them what our expectation is for an Olympic standard .


Business Continuity and Planning

When it comes to business continuity, we have to remain level-headed and focus our efforts on where it counts. The three areas to look into are: 1. The Result Know your goals Determine your tasks Spend time and energy on these tasks

2. Overview, Structure and Control In sight in mind Structure for success Be in control of what you do

3. Time Planning

Different Planning timeframes The Elephant Technique Make use of available time


Leading a Virtual Team - Top Tips

Leading a virtual team is no longer an option, it’s a fact and a necessity. Leaders are expected to carry out their roles regardless of this change. Yet, the skills required are not always intuitive. Leaders must factor in the human side of the equation and learn to adapt their methods, to continue to lead effectively and drive productivity. This interactive program offers practical management strategies to build (and retain) trust, collaboration, engagement and high performance amongst virtual teams. 1. Discover the challenges and opportunities associated with global virtual teams 2. Adopt practices t hat enhance effective collaboration 3. Upgrade your communication skills to be fit for the virtual reality 4. Inspire and influence high performance from team 5. Handle emotionally delicate conversations remotely 6. Get ideas about how to build more connection in a naturally disconnected setting 7. Leverage emerging technologies in communication


Effective Virtual Meetings - Top Tips

1. Choose the Right Conferencing Platform Test the features and your Wi-Fi connection before every meeting 2. Prepare the Participants Ensure they understand their role, tasks and meeting decorum 3. Provide a Detailed Agenda Review it at the start of the meeting, and allow for questions 4. Arrive 10 Minutes Early Make sure you’re “present” and allow for brief social catch-up 5. Allow everyone to Introduce themselves Use video whenever possible, and if your connection allows for it 6. Remain focused and maintain your Concentration Find a quiet place where you’ll be undisturbed and don’t do other tasks 7. Attend as You Would a Physical Meeting Be mindful of your attire, speak clearly and look into the camera for “eye contact”

8. Involve Participants whenever possible Get everyone involved and ask direct questions 9. Park your negativity elsewhere Those are better left for 1:1 discussion afterwards

10. Take minutes along the way So you’re informed and prepared for the nest meeting

11. End the call with a positive note and a call to action!


Work Effectively from Home - Top Tips

1. Start early every morning This way, you finish early and be proud of what you have accomplished 2. Find dedicated quiet work space Let your family know you’re “at work” and be “at work” 3. Schedule calls and conference with others Don’t interrupt their work, and they won’t interrupt yours 4. Share your plan with your boss and colleagues So everyone knows where they can reach you and what you’re up to 5. Take regular breaks and if you can, get some fresh air This will keep your energy levels high 6. Connect with colleagues, as possible over a “coffee break” Use video for meaningful communication and keeping the team spirit up 7. Cluster similar or related tasks You’ll be more productive 8. Keep personal tasks separate from work related ones You’ll be sure to remain focused 9. End the work day with a plan for tomorrow You’ll “hit the ground running” in the morning 10. Stay away from work in your free time Leave your devices “at work”, spend that time with loved ones


“Success is no accident…It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” - Pele

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