Virtual Leader

I decided to write about leadership this time. Coming from a leadership retreat/workshop last week allowed me to realize that I have yet to learn a lot about my leadership style, and understand how it should change now that  I work as an online contractor.

In the past, I was in a Training and Development leadership role. I had the chance to meet the leaders of different groups, share experiences, etc. It was also very easy for me to communicate with colleagues since they’re just a knock, phone call or a walk away (perks of working in an ACTUAL office).

When I started working remotely, I found it very challenging in the beginning. I had a hard time transitioning from being a traditional team lead to a virtual one. I initially felt that the connection wasn’t there. Yes, you get to see everyone on video, but you knew you had to just put that extra effort out there just to establish some sort of a “relationship” virtually. It was tough. BUT I slowly learned.

  1. Be MORE visible. There’s little to no chance of you meeting with your team physically, especially that they are located in different parts of the country. You have to make that extra conscious effort to be FELT. Ping them on Google Hangout, schedule a video call weekly, facilitate a team meeting. Anything that would allow them to feel your presence. Require cameras and have everyone show their faces on video 🙂
  2. Get to know your staff. This should not change. Don’t allow geographic location to stop you from knowing your colleagues. What’s their favorite movie? What cities do they live in? How do they work? What are their hobbies? This allows you to connect better and not just talk about work-related stuff. Know their likes, dislikes. Be a friend 🙂
  3. Understand your work behaviour, and get to know theirs. I have taken a behavioral assessment recently, called DISC. This gives you an idea of your leadership personality style, and how it could impact your peers. I found out that I was a “D”. It was kind of surprising, but I would agree to some extent that I usually “Dominate”. I’m results-oriented, firm and strong-willed. Once you know this, get to know your colleagues’ personality as well. You can have them take an assessment test, or just simply have them write down how they work, and how they want to be managed. This is really helping me with my role now.

It’s not easy being a remote leader. The most important part of working with virtual teams is TRUST. You need to trust your people, empower them, and make sure you’re felt 🙂