How to be a Successful Virtual Leader

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Last week, we hosted a free webinar, Leading from a Distance: Practical Tips for Successful Virtual Leadership, with Rick Lepsinger, President of OnPoint Consulting. Rick is a virtual team expert with more than 30 years experience and a proven track record as a human resource consultant and executive.

Over to 200 people listened to the webinar live. You may view the archived webinar here.

Here is what some of our participants had to say about the webinar:

“I loved the webinar!  It hit every struggle we have today right on the head. Many of your solutions and recommendations seem so ‘common sense’ but they are actually a rarity today.”

“Really a good webinar, thanks.  Great information backed up by statistics/research, and I liked the interactivity of using polls and asking for responses throughout.”

“This is one of the BEST webinars I have attended in a long time. It is clear concise and incorporates some interaction to keep us engaged.”

There were 3 main objectives of this webinar:

  1. Understand what you can do to improve the quality of your v-meetings.
  2. Develop strategies and actions to build and sustain trust in a virtual environment.
  3. Learn skills and techniques to effectively coach and manage accountability from a distance.

Using an interactive chat window, the audience was asked to reply to, “What is your greatest challenge when leading from a distance?”

The responses ranged from building rapport, managing conflict, engaging employees, building trust to having issues with technology.

To properly understand why leading a person or a team virtually has so many challenges, first you need to understand why.

Virtual work is different because:

  • Infrequent or no face-to-face contact
  • Difference in time zones
  • Significant reliance on technology

One of the largest obstacles is that many organizations simply recycle practices for co-located teams without really considering what makes virtual collaboration unique. Taking a closer look at the issues helped create the RAMP Model – which is a tool that outlines the four key dimensions for virtual success.ramp

  • Relationships
  • Accountability
  • Motivation
  • Purpose and Process

 

The proof is in the numbers. 800% increase in virtual workers during the past 5 years. Use of virtual meetings has increased at 80% of companies. Only 62% of people are somewhat satisfied with the v-meetings they attend. 73% report “getting everyone engaged” and “multi-tasking” are always or often challenges.

Many of you reading this now or that participated in the live Webinar are more than likely virtual workers!

Planning is key in virtual leadership.  Do not have meetings unless there is a reason.  If you just want to pass along information, find another way to do it.  Be prepared. Rotate meeting times to accommodate time zone differences.  Plan more frequent but shorter, 30-60 minute meetings.

Another issue is that some virtual teams choose certain technologies for communication that hurt rather than help them reach their objectives. Be aware of when to use what technology.  Match the technology to the task.

Building relationships requires building trust.

We show trustworthiness as an equation made up of Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy, and Self-orientation. This model comes from extensive research  and is a very useful model of trust in a virtual setting.TrustTo fully understand all of the concepts that are mentioned here (as well as many more!) you must watch it yourself. The webinar is just under an hour. It will benefit both you and your virtual teams. 

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