"From a Distance"
Leadership Solutions For Virtual Teams
Three years ago an exhausted senior manager was found sitting in the bar at Wadenhoe House, looking stressed, pale and dejected. His concerns:
Above all, he realised that all of this travel had resulted in little impact on his business.
- In the last 12 months he had driven 32,000 miles covering sites across the UK.
- He had hardly seen his family.
- He was unfit.
At around the same time, we were asked by two large organisations to advise them on techniques for the "virtual leadership" of their overseas operations.
Clearly a topic of real interest, which could have a dramatic effect on bottom-line results as well as personal well-being.
That was the start of a significant piece of research, supported by practical experience since then, which this article attempts to capture.
Five Leadership Challenges
These were not too difficult to find. In summary they are:
- Creating unity
- Moving the decision-making focus
- Increasing the tangibility of objectives
- Moving from competition to collaboration
- Establishing trust
Not so easy!
We discovered that successful teams were those that had established strong collaborative symbols and, over time, had developed intellectual and emotional links.
This meant that wherever they were in the world, they approached problems/challenges in the same way and handled potential conflict situations with a high level of emotional intelligence.
There was also clear consistency, balance and fairness in the team leaders style, resulting in high levels of team engagement. Effective communication was achieved through the use of visual, hands-on and verbal anchors.
Overall then, very high levels of alignment, which meant that wherever team members were in the world, they had a shared vision and desire for success.
Our learning has led us to the development of two unique and powerful workshops for leaders of virtual teams and virtual team members.
These run over two days:
Day One: The knowledge-based, planning stage - which starts with a pre-workshop diagnostic questionnaire and, using a workbook approach, enables participants to develop their own action plans.
Day Two: The implementation stage - enabling participants to "rehearse" their approach to some of the more challenging interpersonal issues. This is done with the help of professional actors, who simulate "working at a distance".
For more information please telephone 01865 339558 or email us at: