13 Sep Leading Anywhere Workers
By the year 2020, 62% of employees are probably going to work in virtual teams, so it’s pretty damn important managers start getting the hang of working with anywhere workers. Managing virtual teams and feedback can be tricky. People who have worked on a project together with others they’ve actually never met before, probably know what I am talking about.
The whole virtual team thing is still relatively new. Therefore it’s critical companies address the management challenges of leading those “anywhere workers”. The latest research shows that people who are part of a virtual team are two and half times more likely to perceive feelings like mistrust, incompetence, and broken commitments. So managers definitely have to understand how they have to give and receive feedback, but also how to build trust in their virtual team! But don’t worry, there’s good news too. Managers can influence these numbers tremendously if they do things right.
“Your team can be highly effective, even when no one has never met in person. In fact, your virtual team has the potential to outperform a traditional co-located team.” (Source HBR)
The Distributed Leader
So what are the skills the new distributed leader should acquire? The NWoW consultancy company Work EvOHlution (who have done over 15 years of research in organisational psychology), found that distributed leaders need all the capabilities that are required to lead face-to-face teams. But unfortunately these skills are not sufficient to lead a virtual team successfully. They also noted that poor leadership is amplified when leading from a distance.
According to their research, a distributed leader needs to master twelve skills.
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Just one extra note. The first think you have to do when leading a virtual team is: don’t panic! Your virtual team members are just normal people. Leading them isn’t that different from leading a team that works physically together.
So now you know what the attributes of a distributed leader are. But unfortunately knowing is not enough. Just think about it. How many things have you learned but aren’t applying right now? At CUTE we have this obsession with helping people and organizations close this knowing-doing gap and basically next you need to develop the right habits!
Four Foundation Habits
When going through research and academic literature on virtual teams four habits keep on popping up. It’s fair to conclude there are four foundation habits that are essential when leading a virtual team:
- Communicate qualitative and predictable,
- Create a shared identity,
- Have a cave and commons structure,
- Foster trust.
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