My one essential ingredient leading a dispersed team effectively
Leading over distance, being a virtual leader, is the norm in most international organisations.
Yet, it is a widespread view in business that virtual teams are often managed badly and are performing way under their potential or the expectations of the organisation. I am sure no leader in such a position is happy with this kind of assessment. And maybe a human reaction is to just negate such a verdict and turn a blind eye on the challenge!
The one essential
Here I want to share one more essential element that contributes massively to my effectiveness in leading over distance. It sounds very simple:
Developing and keeping trust at a high level in and with people reporting to you.
Needless to say that trust is also necessary in co-located teams to perform well. The difference in emphasis comes through a dynamic factor called amplification which is only observable in virtual teams. It means that aspects like trust become highly amplified in a virtual setting due to missing or reduced personal face-to-face interaction in the team. Hence, in a virtual setting this peculiar dynamic makes it absolutely vital to have high levels of trust.
Trust in a team has many facets. It ranges from trusting in each other’s competencies, each other’s commitments doing a good job and in each other as a person. All these elements can be addressed separately or as a mix. So the real question is how you can develop all these elements in order to develop or enhance the level of trust in your virtual team.
Step 1: Self assessment
I always start with an honest self assessment of my behaviour related to these facets of trust. What are my watch-outs and development areas to ensure I can uphold high standards in these elements?
I have seen leaders pretending to be technically competent in a particular area for which they have taken on a new responsibility in the hope to quickly gain respect and recognition as a leader. Their interaction revealed fairly quickly that it was more pretence than substance what they displayed. This, or example, is a killer for trust.
Step2 : Impact of my behaviour on trust in my context
In a further step I scrutinize in what way my behaviour serves as a positive example for creating great relationships and enhancing trust in my direct context?
First I ask myself: Do I foster empathy and compassion as key element of personal trust? As the leader I am aware that I set the tone in my team!
In addition I ask myself: How much do I inspire people working with or for me? How much do they feel in connection to something bigger and serving a high purpose beyond our existence?
Am I perfect in all of this to grow trust?
Of course not! However, I have high aspirations to develop my leadership competencies. And I see it as essential to enhance my ability to grow trust in my virtual setting to become more effective overall.
The amplification principle
Above all, I always try to keep the amplification principle in mind! Even if I feel I have a long way to go with a team, I keep in mind that every step I make counts much more in a virtual context than in a local one.
So I hope sharing my experience here gives you some food for thought. And should this thought lead you to more questions you want to discuss with someone, I am offering the first 10 leaders who register with us a FREE of charge 30 minutes individual consultation on how best to apply these tips in your context.
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