Effective Leadership is challenging at the best of times. Particularly in times of significant change. Clearly, 2020 has been a year full of change. For many organizations, one of the most significant changes is the abrupt transition to remote work. A full nine months after this transition first took place, many organizations are still remote. Some even plan to do so full during the coming year or longer. It is safe to say, the way we work has permanently changed.
As we begin 2021, the importance of effective leadership in remote teams is more important and more difficult. During the transition to the remote workforce, we heard from many leaders of organizations about the importance of existing relationships within their teams. High-trust relationships that were built in-person helped leaders handle difficult aspects of the transition. Previous social habits made it easier to stay connected and adjust into new routines. However, continuing to rely on relationships that were built in-person is no longer enough to build a strong sense of connection and engagement. Many new employees now find themselves in the unique situation of working in a virtual environment without any in-person relationships to rely on. This is the new challenge for virtual leaders to meet head-on.
With this in mind, we want to explore and share about one of our favorite books for strengthening leaderships skills in a virtual environment.
Virtual Leadership: Practical Strategies for Getting the Best Out of Virtual Work and Virtual Teams by Penny Pullan
The book is a highly functional manual for leaders of teams at all levels. Large sections are filled with practical examples, as well as detailed case studies. These case studies show how effective leadership can shine through in remote experiences. In particular, chapters about the “The ups and downs of virtual working,” as well as “Potential pitfalls and how to overcome them,” acknowledge that being on a virtual team can be difficult. The examples are more valuable because they don’t deny the challenges, they show how to adapt and respond to the challenge.
Other sections of the book also focus in on practical aspects of leadership most common in remote environments, including;
- Technology for virtual work,
- Leading virtual meetings,
- Leading virtual work outside of meetings,
- Working across cultures, time-zones, languages, and generations
One of the most powerful aspects of this book, is that it balances the added challenges of remote working environments with the positive potential when virtual teams thrive. In this way, the goal of the Virtual Leader becomes more than just to create an environment that is comparable to what may exist in-person. The goal of the Virtual Leader becomes to identify and amplify the benefits of Virtual Teams. Virtual Leaders should not feel as though they have to “settle” for less effective, less fulfilling, and less human working environments because their team is virtual. All of those aspects of work should remain within reach for virtual teams.