Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Five Tips to Leading Virtual Teams

On one of my networking sites, I posed the question "What has to change in order to effectively lead virtual teams?"

As organizations are increasingly decentralizing, and social networks have a greater organizational presence, how has that impacted leadership?

The answers I received were what I had expected....unfortunately.

The dynamics of virtual teams are very different than in-person teams. The connection, the sense of relationship and collaboration is not as present. Staff can't wander into your office to ask a question or even feel that personal presence when seeing their leader or manager walk through the halls of the building. It harder to feel that sense of team when you might be spread all over the city, country or globe.  So leaders have to take notice. Those entering the workforce have to notice as well as their working relationships will be different than in the past.  

I've been working on material for guest lectures and keynotes. Organizations are looking for direction on how to lead in an increasingly virtual world. With the advent of social media and teams connected by technology, relationships have to be forged, however in a new way. If you can't create that connection and strong, cohesive team, then you won't produce. And you know what that means.

So here are some tips to point you in a direction:

  1. Make it personal. Start the conversation off with a question that invites people to share who they are, not only what they do. I call them tidbits.
  2. Find out something they have in common. Half the fun is finding out what that may be (and make take place over numerous calls.
  3. Bring video in if at all possible.  Seeing everyone's faces makes it more personal (and keeps their attention on the virtual meetings). 
  4. Follow-up the calls with a short email. Stay in touch so the staff doesn't feel isolated and ignored.
  5. Change the timing of the meetings to honor all time zones.
Remember you're working with people through technology, not the other way around.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Leadership is Leadership

"Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers."— Dee Hock

As long as you're learning and growing, and are open to both, so will others be. If you live your word, then trust will be there. If you have purpose and conviction, then people might disagree with you but they'll still respect you. Managing people tp death for the purpose of having control over them isn't leadership. It's dictatorship.

In my opinion, managing from a perspective of 'power over people' is keeping people under your thumb and saying "I'm important and you're just here to serve a purpose". Leading them in the way that inspires others to be their best, do their best and encourage others to do the same says "You're important and contribute to our organizational purpose".

What do you think is best?

Managers light a fire under people and have to do it often. Leaders stoke a fire inside people and feed it just enough through their leadership so it continues to burn.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Formula for Business Success

I was re-reading John Spence's blog from January 2010 where he shares his formula for business success.  Not surprisingly, much of it is about people... connecting, collaborating, and caring about the people you work with.

I absolutely agree when he says "The ONLY way to attract top talent to your team is to give them the opportunity to make a difference." If they can't connect what they're doing with why they know they need to be doing it (speaks to purpose and passion), you won't lose them (as in the future); you've already lost them. Then it'll be an uphill climb to try to win them back. 

If you can.