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Leading a Virtual Team

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the world of virtual or remote work. I once dreamed of a time when I would be able to work from home, sipping margaritas next to my pool as I listen to the sound of a distant lawnmower overtaking the noise of my coworkers on a Monday morning virtual call.

Those dreams are now replaced with memories of a reality that was very different from that dream. In this realistic world, I found myself trapped at home with an autoimmune disease, isolated and alone. Working in residential childcare was considered essential; after all, parents didn't get "COVID" off; and that's exactly what we were to our kids. Due to a fear of the unknown and no real direction from the medical world, my team decided it would be best if I worked full-time from home. This meant adapting to a new normal and a new job role that involved working remotely with my team and clients!

I learned very quickly that leading a virtual team from home is not an easy task! It was vital that I take a proactive role in learning the tools needed to make leading virtually a success!

Providing leadership in a virtual setting can prove challenging for most if not all, leaders. There are a variety of external factors that come into play when working in a virtual environment that a leader would have to adapt to in order to be successful.

If a leader possesses a balance of administrative, interpersonal, and conceptual skills, the higher the likelihood they will be able to not only manage a team but provide support to their subordinates as they learn to navigate the virtual work environment.

Administrative skills are important because they help a leader accomplish routine yet critical tasks necessary to manage effectively (Northouse, 2021). Administrative skills involve a combination of managing people, managing resources, and showing technical competence (Northouse, 2021).

Interpersonal skills are important because they help a leader connect with their followers. Having people skills are essential to the way a leader is able to work effectively with their supporters, peers, and superiors in order to accomplish a shared organizational goal (Northouse, 2021). Interpersonal skills are a combination of being socially perceptive, showing emotional intelligence, and managing interpersonal conflicts (Northouse, 2021).

Conceptual skills are important because they allow a leader to create a vision or intentional plan for their organization. Leaders who possess these skills are also able to utilize critical thinking skills to shape an organization and its goals. Conceptual skills are a combination of problem-solving, strategic planning, and creating a vision (Northouse, 2021).

Like everything else in life, good leadership takes practice, patience, and communication! While searching for balance in your virtual role, check in with your team often, provide feedback, and let them know you are an active participant in their success.

Teamwork really does make the dream work!

Elizabeth Ramjohn-Thomas

Resilient Teams LLC Co-Founder

Northouse, P. G. (2021). Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice (5th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.

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