When it comes to virtual workplaces, sometimes it seems as if we’re just blithely skipping toward a promised Emerald City. With great expectations, more and more organizations have at least some employees working virtually.
In the past, the will toward increasing a virtual presence was there, but the way was somewhat lacking. Now, with The Great Wizard of Technology advancing in giant leaps almost daily, working virtually seems a no-brainer. Currently, 30% of full-time workers work from somewhere other than their employer’s location. And approximately 63 million Americans work from home at least one day a week.
Research on the productivity of virtual workers continues to grow. Various studies indicate that well-led dispersed teams can actually outperform those that share office space. Research demonstrates the potential benefits for employees and organizations…when executed thoughtfully and strategically.
Therein lies the key: thoughtfulness and strategy. Because while it may look easy, virtual teams can only be truly successful when led by a sound leader. A leader who can pull aside the technological curtain and pay close attention to the people behind it.
But what does it really take to be a sound virtual leader?
Research has identified a number of characteristics of successful virtual leaders. We’ve distilled that down to five important attributes.
Successful virtual leaders:
- Practice effective interpersonal skills
- Build relationships and foster trust
- Establish a shared goal and encourage others to work toward it
- Provide a means for and encourage collaboration
- Set clear expectations focused on results
Being a successful virtual leader is more than just providing the bells and whistles to your team and then leaving them alone to do their work. The sound virtual leader works diligently and continually to help dispersed employees view themselves as an integral part of a team.
- How can you improve your effectiveness as a virtual leader?
- How can you build cohesive virtual teams?
- How can you support the productivity of your virtual team?
To answer these questions, we’ll look at each of the five characteristics in detail over the next few months. In the meantime, if you’re a virtual leader, reflect on how you currently support the real people behind the curtain at your organization.