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How to Develop Virtual Leadership Skills
Due to the current global pandemic, the value of good virtual leadership has increased exponentially. This specific type of leadership has become a new focus for leadership development.
What skills do you need to sharpen to translate your in-person leadership skills to the virtual arena?
- Communication skills
- Empathy, emotional leadership skills
- Technical skills tied to information technology
- The ability to motivate and to take care of yourself
Solid virtual leadership is a hotter commodity now than ever before.
How do you develop these virtual leadership skills? How do they all relate to leadership maturity and emotional intelligence?
“Make every interaction count, even the small ones. They are all relevant.” – Shep Hyken
As I have pointed out in my book, Talent Leadership, the combined need and drive to create genuine relationships is the source of good communication skills. A good communicator listens fully, manages conflict, communicates clearly, and provides relevant feedback. This is how good communicators influence others.
To turn these skills into virtual leadership skills, you need to focus on a few subtle aspects of communication, such as:
- The need to take action to facilitate contact. Set up weekly calls with your virtual team. Make sure you understand their needs and that you stay on top of the projects on which you are working. Track progress and reward achievements. Do not hold back praise where it is warranted. Motivate and empower your virtual team at every opportunity.
- Being concise and clear in your communication. Communicate as often as needed, but do not go overboard lest you should hurt employee engagement and productivity. Do your best to avoid misunderstandings.
- Promote collaboration. Remote work makes it easier for introverted employees to withdraw from the group. Lead by example and encourage others to collaborate as well.
- Choosing the right communication channels. Webcam meetings may not be necessary every time you need to make an announcement. Use email and instant messaging when you need to make short announcements or want to deliver documents and elaborate instructions.
Emotional intelligence forms the basis of the ability to build strong relationships. As I defined it in Talent Leadership, emotional intelligence is a mix of competencies, ranging from self-awareness and self-management to motivation, social skills, and empathy.
One of the core leadership skills, emotional intelligence is also a measure of leadership maturity. Emotional intelligence lets you understand how to manage your relationships with your employees for the optimal functioning of your virtual team.
Listening to your employees is the key to building meaningful relationships.
Having Good Command of Technology
Various technological achievements have made virtual teams and remote work possible. To be an effective virtual leader, you need to be knowledgeable about the communication technology you have to use.
The ability to identify and use the technology that will allow your virtual team to be efficient is a fundamental virtual leadership skill. The technological landscape of today offers many such options, and you will likely have to incorporate a combination of solutions.
Set time aside for specific tools training, if needed, for yourself and your reports.
Self-motivation and Self-care
Taking care of your mental and physical health is always a good investment, regardless of your leadership position. If you cannot manage yourself well, how will you lead others to success?
Pay attention to your posture, and do not forget to take a break now and then. Involve a friend or trusted peer in your self-care routine and have him or her check in on you periodically. Reciprocate the assistance.
Effective virtual leaders set achievable, realistic goals, and they track their teams’ progress toward these goals. They are transparent about their expectations and include their employees in planning. Focus your leadership development program on these skills to make better future virtual leaders out of your high-potential employees too.