Because of the pandemic, 42% of the labor force is currently working from home full-time. Now many leadership teams are trying to navigate new challenges. While they may excel at in-person leadership, they may need help to become strong virtual leaders. Here are five ideas to help develop good leadership skills in the virtual world.
1. Encourage a healthy work-life balance
Now that so many people work from home, it can be difficult to keep a healthy work-life balance. It’s easy to put in long days when work is just a few steps away. In fact, people are now working 10 to 20% more than before the pandemic.
Encourage leaders to have a set time of day when they stop working. Even if there’s more to be done, working a certain number of hours lets them come back to their role refreshed the next day. They’re also setting a good example for those who report to them. To give them a tangible—and functional—reminder to step away from the computer, consider sending them a leadership giveaway like a desktop clock or a pedometer.
2. Communicate clearly
Being a virtual leader means they’ll be communicating across many channels—live chats, video calls, email and phone. Help them hone their virtual communication skills. To do this, ask your team to:
- Set expectations of what needs to be accomplished before a video call
- Ask follow-up questions to ensure the team understands what’s being said
- Listen carefully before offering advice
3. Support the team
Now that your leaders can’t see their team in person every day, it may take a little extra thought to ensure the team feels supported. Have leaders schedule frequent one-on-one meetings with team members. Having this time set aside can strengthen their relationships, build trust and lets the team know they’re in good hands. Another way to support the team is by publicly acknowledging their work. Consider establishing an “Above & Beyond” reward by sending a jar of candy or a box of chocolates to winners.
4. Trust team members
It’s essential for leaders to trust their team to get work done. Micromanaging can be counterproductive. Instead, train your leaders to give team members enough space to focus on projects. One way to make sure everyone’s on the same page is to train your leaders to be clear about schedules. Let people know well in advance when they need to be online while also being flexible when possible. Send them a leadership giveaway like a planner set to help keep track of things.
5. Point to role models
It can be helpful for your leadership team to have one or two role models to look up to. Who do you admire for their leadership qualities? Talk about that person while connecting to your leaders’ virtual environment. For example, Steve Jobs ingrained himself in his company and put in the work as well as his team. You could draw the connection to virtual leadership by asking your leaders to be willing to do anything they’d ask someone else to do.
Help your leadership team in the virtual world
By training your leaders on good communication skills, showing them how to support their team and pointing out role models, they’ll quickly adapt to being strong virtual leaders.