In the past year, many aspects of our work and personal lives have shifted to the virtual world. This presents a challenge for leaders who must find ways to connect and motivate their teams through a screen. Virtual leadership requires different skills from leading in-person, and even the best in-person leaders may struggle with it.
The COVID-19 pandemic made virtual leadership even more challenging, as leaders had to find ways to engage and lead their teams without face-to-face interaction. However, even as the pandemic subsides, virtual work is here to stay. As a result, virtual leadership is now an essential skill for modern leaders.
To become an inspiring virtual leader, it's important to follow these five steps:
Learn the technology: Virtual leadership starts with an understanding of the technology. Leaders should invest in good equipment, such as a quality camera and microphone, and become familiar with the various collaboration and video tools.
Be human: Virtual interactions can make it easy to forget that leaders are real people with personalities and lives outside of work. Leaders should strive to be relatable and show their human side by connecting with employees individually, even if it's virtual.
Lead collaboration: Leaders should facilitate and encourage collaboration, rather than doing all the work themselves or micromanaging. Virtual collaboration can be challenging, so leaders must understand virtual collaboration tools and use them effectively to get the most out of their teams.
Be transparent and realistic: Without regular face-to-face interaction, it's easy for leaders to share only part of the picture. To build trust and an authentic culture, leaders must be transparent and realistic. This includes ensuring that there are clear and open communication channels with all employees.
Listen: Virtual communication makes it easier to share information, but it can make it more challenging to listen to feedback. Inspiring leaders create numerous opportunities for employees to provide feedback and ensure that communication is a two-way street.
The future of leadership is virtual, and leaders must be prepared to inspire and motivate their teams no matter where they are located. By following these steps, leaders can build strong connections and foster collaboration in a virtual world.