Managers nowadays tend to find themselves trying to find a balance between the need for getting the job done quickly and the need for building work relationships despite the barriers of time and distance, especially in a world that has turned online. According to Hasan Youness – expert in business strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), we are currently dedicating 80% of our time to a virtual world and 20% to the physical world. For many managers, leading in an unfamiliar territory requires new ways of thinking. If this situation sounds familiar, then this article is just for you.

With the escalation of the online world comes the need to enhance or acquire new skills in order to be successful and powerful. Not only that, but as more baby boomers are reaching retirement age, more leadership roles are vacant and ready to be filled by younger generations. This implies that in order to thrive in this position, you will need solid leadership skills to navigate this digital ttransition.  

Thus, the demand for good virtual leadership skills becomes more significant than ever, which is what this article aims to teach you.

 To begin with, what exactly is Virtual Leadership? 

It is a type of leadership where teams are managed via a remote working atmosphere. The leaders focus on motivating employees and helping their teams accomplish goals. Virtual Leadership

This means that they must take distinct managerial approaches since team communication is not done in person. This was the case with COVID-19 where all businesses were forced to move digital and those who already had digital skills, such as Feel22, were able to be ahead of the curve during the pandemic.

Consequently, leaders will need good writing skills to translate vital elements like empathy and understanding into written form.

Now, what are the Virtual Leaders’ Essential Skills?

1. Transparency

Make relevant company data accessible to all employees so that they can have a better understanding of the firms goals and desired outcomes. For example, when leaders are honest about their concerns with a specific department, the group can mature together and find creative ways to discover the best way to deliver on performance expectations. 

2. Use the Proper Communication Method

Because you have an excess of technology at your disposal, you should know how and when to properly use each mode of communication in order to match the medium with your message. Below are is a list of the most common mediums and when to use them:

  • Instant MessagingWhatsApp or iMessage can be used for quick communication with employees if you want to ask questions, coordinate schedules, motivate them, check up on project statuses, or even check up on them by sharing a friendly “Hello, how are you?”.
  • EmailThis should be used when you are communicating something that needs to be referenced later on, i.e., long detailed messages, summary of discussion outcomes, or sharing articles and content.
  • VideoWhenever appropriate, connecting face-to-face through Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other platforms, is efficient when you have time and need to communicate something important with your employees. This is usually the go-to because most people are visual learners and would be highly engaged in such a medium.
  • PhoneWhenever there is a conflict that is sensitive and needs to be resolved, a phone call is always the fastest and most efficient medium to use.

Remember that its important to give yourself time to get used to each communication tool, and see what works best for you and your employees and what doesnt. Technology is efficient but it can get complicated when you have a lot of different instruments within your reach. That is why you should just take a breath, be patient, and try out the ones you seem fit.

3. Inclusion and Support

First, it is vital to let your employees participate in planning phases of your projects in order to encourage intrapreneurship in the workplace. This means that they can offer valuable insight even though they are probably not top managers. 

To know more about intrapreneurship and the difference with entrepreneurship, check out our first module:

Moreover, working at home can be a drag sometimes and employees may find a hard time feeling supported. This is why you need to show that you are there for them and ready to support remotely. Here are a few tips:

  • Hold Virtual Office Hours – Set a time every week where you can give your employees 100% of your attention. Use these meetings in case anyone needs help, support or motivation.
  • Be Accessible – Remember that you have employees looking up to you and you should always make time for them. Also, make sure that your team is aware of when you are available so that they won’t feel as a burden.
  • Schedule 1-on-1 Check-In Meetings – These meetings should be solely focused on current, future projects and ideally last around 30-45 mins. Ask them about their motives, goals, what they want to achieve and learn, and how you could help them in succeeding these aims.
  • Encourage Feedback and Intrapreneurship – Always remember your employees’ names and try to call them out during meetings to ask what they think, and hear ideas they might have.
  • Acknowledge Individuals – Recognize employees that are putting in a lot of effort and spot them in front of the team to achieve a huge confidence boost.

4. Constant self-development 

According to Maurice Mattar – Co-founder and CEO of Feel 22, the ability and interest to constantly learn and improve is one of the most productive skills any employee or leader should have. This capacity is of utmost importance in the digital world where different platforms, software, tools, are constantly being developed and you need to stay up to date. Reading books frequently and going through relevant articles online keeps your brain growing! 

By pursuing these skills, you will be able to successfully lead your virtual team, while establishing work relationships and running the business smoothly and efficiently. Remember, the beauty of virtual leadership is that technology allows you to be creative, hence keeping your teams connected in fun ways. Go forth and lead well in the virtual realm!

Want to learn more about becoming an awesome virtual leader? How about setting up a remote company during the global pandemic? Register to our courses to get a better understanding of the challenges leaders and teams face when working online. As such, you can use your new learnt leadership skills to help your teams transition smoothly to the virtual life.

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