Leadership development for virtual team leaders

June 7, 2017 by Wally Bock

Fast Company asks the question: “Will half of people be working remotely by 2020?” Here’s the opening paragraph from their article.

“Remote work seems to be the wave of the future. A recent survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London found that 34% said more than half their company’s full-time workforce would be working remotely by 2020. A full 25% said more than three-quarters would not work in a traditional office by 2020, which is not some far off, futuristic era.”

Well, maybe, even though, some companies, such as IBM, seem to be reeling in their virtual staff. No matter what happens between now and 2020, there will be a lot of virtual workers and lots of virtual teams. Darleen DeRosa addresses part of the challenge in her article, “Why Virtual Leadership Is Different From Leading In Person.”

The question for us is straightforward: “How do we develop leaders for a work world where lots of people work virtually?

Leadership development and human nature

Here’s the challenge. Technology changes quickly. We now have tools that let us “communicate” across time zones and borders almost instantly. Society changes slowly. The workforce we have now was a generation in the making. Human nature hasn’t changed much in millennia. Leaders must understand that they’ll be more effective if they work with the grain of human nature, instead of trying to overcome it.

Leadership development and reality

The reality is that distance is the enemy. Face-to-face communication is richer than any form of virtual communication we’ve developed so far. That means that leaders of people working virtually must pay special, conscious, attention, to things that may happen easily and naturally when everyone on the team shares the same space.

Why Virtual Leadership Is Different From Leading In Person” will help you understand the difference. I also encourage you to read the Sloan Management Review article, “How to Manage Virtual Teams.”

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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