How To Lead In a Virtual and Remote Environment  

How To Lead In a Virtual and Remote Environment

Many leaders became aware of the numerous benefits that remote work has to offer after the Covid-19 pandemic forced most businesses to adapt to virtual and remote work environments in order to stay afloat during shelter-in-place. Even as life begins to return to normalcy, many organisations have opted to continue using remote and hybrid work environments. 

As more executive clients embrace remote and hybrid work environments, they may require assistance in becoming accustomed to leading virtual teams. Given are some useful ways to lead a virtual and remote environment. 

Empathy, Authenticity, and Trust 

The past two years have demonstrated the value of leading with empathy, authenticity, and trust, whether in person or virtually. From experience, virtual teams require the same thing as physical teams: get to know the people on the team, understand what motivates them, recognise when they are challenged, and understand how you can help them achieve their goals. 

Establish Clear Communication Expectations 

To stay truly connected, set clear expectations for communication frequency and cadence. Don’t be fooled into thinking there’s no culture because the team is hybrid or entirely remote. Define and safeguard the culture. What are the values, and how do they manifest themselves in person, remotely, or in a hybrid setting? Most importantly, meet with your immediate direct reports one-on-one to see how they are doing. 

Check in, Be Present, Inspire, and Share Thankfulness 

Check in — now that people are working from home or in a hybrid setting, there is a significant risk of feeling disconnected from the team and from the success of the organisation. Team members must continue to participate in the community. Be present — more than ever, your team relies on you to be the leader they admire, who keeps them safe and valued. Encourage and spread gratitude. 

Increase The Level Of Connection With The Team

As an executive, one of the most important keys to effectively leading a remote team is to improve the level of connection between team members. Connection is not granted and does not occur by default. We build trust through our actions and behaviours, and a strong connection leads to better communication, stronger collaboration, and higher productivity. 

Make The Team Feel Appreciated

While leading remote and hybrid teams with clear expectations and goals, leaders must demonstrate empathy. As a leader, it is critical to organise team-building activities and make the team feel valued. My personal favourite is the DISC personality test, which we use to learn more about our communication style, what types of projects we would excel at, and how to succeed at work. 

Take The Time To Understand The Impact Of The Team

It begins by taking the time to understand the impact on the team rather than leading from a position of knowing what the team is going through. Allow teams to express their difficulties while working in a remote and hybrid environment that promotes psychological safety and belonging. Allow the team to connect with the client in a variety of ways, such as one-on-one check-ins or virtual group coffee chats. 

Read More: Role of Ethics in Leadership  – About Pakistan

Concentrate On Energising and Empowering People

Leaders should focus on energising and empowering their followers by allowing people to make decisions, innovate, and get things done with a high degree of autonomy. Through shared purpose and work meaning, their authentic behaviour and daily interactions should foster social cohesion and build trust. 

Create Trust and Allow Work Results Speak Up The Most

It all comes down to developing trusting relationships. Begin by assuming that your team members are professional adults whom you do not need to control if they are truly working. Let your work speak louder than your words. You must have a clear understanding of your objectives, key results, and action plans. Hold regular one-on-one meetings to discuss not only transactions but also their meta-dreams and challenges. 

Get to Know Your Employees On a Personal Level 

Learn about each employee individually. Learn the names of their partner and children, as well as what’s going on in their lives and what they like to do outside of work. Set up and stick to regular one-on-one meetings. It’s your team’s turn to be led by you. Do not inquire, “How are you?” “What’s on your mind?” inquire. 

When Employees Achieve Their Objectives, Celebrate With Them

A positive leader celebrates with their employees when they achieve their goals and praises them for it. They provide positive feedback to their employees when goals are met, as well as constructive feedback when goals are not met. Give praise and acknowledgement. Set challenging but achievable goals and provide timely feedback, praise, and recognition. 

Request Complete Attention During Meetings 

This may appear to be insignificant, but it is not. First, ask everyone to commit to not doing any other work during team video meetings. There will be no texting or checking email. Complete concentration is required. Then, ask everyone what could be going on in the meeting that would make them want to stay? Make the meeting interesting and exciting enough to warrant their full attention. 

Make Time For Regular Interactions 

The executive leadership of virtual teams is essentially the same as it is in the face-to-face world, with the added requirement of orchestrating opportunities for regularly scheduled direct interactions. These interactions will compensate for the loss of hallway and chance encounters by providing a platform for purposeful communication. Interactions can take the form of one-on-one meetings, skip-level meetings, or group meetings. 

Start Every Meeting With An Energy Check 

Begin the meeting with an energy check — on a scale of one to ten, with ten representing total overwhelm and stress and one representing vacation, what number represents your current state? When the average score was between 8 and 12, this one activity helped team members have more empathy. Giving a brief explanation was extremely beneficial for coordination, and people were kinder, more patient, and adaptable as a result. 

Understand the Intricacies of Culture 

Leaders must be culturally fluent in order to effectively lead virtual teams, particularly global ones. Understanding the small intricacies of ice-breakers in different regions to help build rapport, make staff feel a sense of belonging, and create a higher level of emotional intelligence is one example. It would also provide a better understanding of how people prefer to participate. 

Create an Open-Door Policy 

Leaders must institute an open-door policy and hold regular virtual informal fireside chats with no set agenda. The goal is for all employees (both remote and in-person) to feel like they have equal access to leaders and informal interactions that would otherwise take place “at the water cooler.” 

Read More: Impact Of Diversity and Inclusion on Leadership   – About Pakistan

Bottom Line 

Leading in a virtual and remote environment is comparatively challenging and requires more creativity. In order to engage the workers introducing new ideas are one of the major needs. Keeping in view, the growing trend of online working, it is imperative to establish a strong virtual network and develop effective leadership skills. 

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