Leading virtual teams

Eight principles for mastering virtual leadership of teams

Written by Deloitte Denmark

As a result of COVID-19, many of us have stepped into a new reality of virtual working, which poses new challenges for leaders. It goes without saying, virtual is not physical, and team connection and productivity will not automatically continue in a virtual world. Virtual teaming affords many benefits but presents a higher risk of misalignment and lack of collaboration, which may take a toll on team trust and employee engagement if not done right.

This piece explores the eight principles for mastering virtual leadership of teams:

  • 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%, 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.
Leading virtual teams
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