Remote teams have become the norm whether they integrate within an on-site structure or the full structure operates remote. They are now mainstream, need clarity of direction and remote leadership skills.
While the obvious difference between a remote team and a traditional team is that the one is physically present in the office and the other is not, remote leadership – simply leading a virtual team comes with its own skills and challenges.
‘Somatics is the study and practice of the mind and body working together to optimize a human’s experience in and of life. … The foundational premise in somatics is that the mind and body are interwoven, and change does not happen by simply working with the mind or body exclusively.’
As a Somatic Leader, your whole person becomes a vehicle for change that can produce effective and sustainable change for yourself, others and the organization.
Is it about time we start talking about ‘Virtual Somatic Leadership’ where we use all of ourselves in the process the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual and all virtually. How can we take control of both the mind and the body while working virtually with teams and organisations.
Sounds simple! yet it’s not.
Traditional vs remote leadership
Some debate that it is far easier to motivate and communicate within a traditional team model. A traditional team enjoys emotional resonance through direct engagement and the immediacy that enables clear calls to action that expedite workflow.
It is common knowledge that the benefits of a virtual team include greater agility and access to resources, thus enabling cost savings. Remote teams however are as well-known for their focus on output and being highly efficient. This is not a given though.
Becoming a high-performing team requires effort to overcome the challenges of distance and virtual working.
Remote leadership skills
Leading a remote team as simple as it sounds, does require certain characteristics and skills to manage the team remotely without relying on physical cues.
Here are some of those skills and characteristics that you need to start thinking about, develop, or drive:
- Have the ability to effectively communicate with empathy in a remote set-up
- Develop relationships with team members, recognizing their opinions and suggestions
- Identify and address issues of low motivation, isolation, and conflict within the team
- Encourage self-leadership and drive accountability
- Recognize emerging leaders
- Promote and maintain team trust and cohesion
- Monitor team performance against desired output to deliver on business strategy
- Respect individual boundaries and ensure that the team members do so as well.
- Having the appropriate tools are required for all aspects of the work to be performed by a remote team.
It’s a leader’s responsibility that those are made available. Including the use of collaboration tools as those become critical in leading virtual teams.
A remote ready team
But it’s not a leader’s show only. It’s the whole group dynamic.
A leader should ensure that the team members selected to work virtually have the right level of skills for working on a virtual team or are coached and trained to get there.
You may want to make sure your remote team members are:
- Able to self-manage and have self-discipline
- Being individually accountable
- Open to use and learn new technologies and tools
- Participating successfully in team communication and collaboration by using technology tools to communicate
- Confident in other team members to get their tasks done – TRUST
- Having suitable personality traits: patience, perseverance, persistence, tolerance, flexibility, respect, empathy and understanding
A remote leader’s responsibilities
Virtual team leaders need to ensure clarity on the rules of communication and engagement from the onset for a successful remote leadership experience.
How does this look like and what does it entail.
As a remote leader, you need to:
- Provide equal access to information for all team members
- Manage an ongoing continuous yet non-intrusive communication flow
- Invite continuous performance feedback
- Establish norms around the use of communication technologies
- Have and communicate a clear code of conduct
- Clarify standards for availability and acknowledgement
- Put in place meetings and discussions guidelines to optimise time
- Delegate outcomes, not actions
- Create a clear line of sight between the work delivered by the team and the business consequence.
- Celebrate success on the spot and regularly
- It goes without saying that to work effectively, the team needs to be clear on goals, deliverables, timelines and responsibilities.
As a virtual team leader, you need to ensure that human resource policies to recognize, support, and reward your virtual team members and leaders are clear and well communicated.
Here’s more on some of those policies here.
Team processes and virtual environmental factors are also the responsibility of the leader.
Tools for clarity on personality characteristics and psychological profiling of team members become even more essential in virtual teams as it is imperative for the virtual team to have the appropriate skills.
It provides the leader better visibility during team formation to ensure the virtual team is coherent and able to work remotely and together.
The struggle to adjust to this new way of working and keep people engaged is REAL.
This was already the case in ‘normal’ office settings and is even more important when people do not work in the physical space.
We are all busy adjusting to unprecedented realities. One Circle is here to help. Let’s book a discovery call together.