Leading Virtually: Leadership Communication Essentials

More than ever before you are leading virtually with people dispersed throughout the country or globe. Make sure you replace the image of managing remote employees with one of engaging virtual teams. How you communicate creates the image and impacts the outcome — good or bad.

    The remote image demotivates; the virtual engaged image inspires.

    The remote image detaches; the virtual engaged image connects.

    The remote image controls; the virtual engaged image empowers.

    The remote image prioritizes who’s important; the virtual engaged image includes and collaborates.

Leading Virtually: Image is cartoon of man playing with a remotely run car

9 Communication Essentials for Leading Virtually. Image Licensced from Istock.

Image licensed from Istock.com

9 Communication Essentials for Engaging and Leading Virtually

Do you want your employees to feel like a radio controlled car that you operate remotely?

Or a virtual, trusted, dream team at the heart of company success? Use these steps to build a virtual dream team.

  1. Build Bonds. Communication can focus on just facts and details or it can also build bonds of teamwork. When leading virtually, facts only communication can come across as giving orders. Communicate with everyone to engage their talents and ideas. It shows respect for their value and therefore builds bonds.

    Also, get to know them as people. Face time and fun time are critical to leading virtually. Develop an uncommon talent for developing common bonds.


  2. Show commitment. When a leader is very laid back when leading virtual teams, the teams may see it as uncommitted. Show them your passion for the mission and for their talents. That will inspire and energize your teams no matter how far apart they are physically.


  3. Understand culture. This is critical of leadership in general. Yet with virtual teams, it’s especially important. Ex-pats need your understanding of their adjustment to a different culture and natives need your true understanding of their culture.

    Learn about different cultures and offer this learning to the employees. When leading virtually, communicate with true cultural knowledge and awareness.


  4. Leading Virtually Anyone Anywhere

  5. Be clear. Working virtually can increase anxiety. When you communicate clearly as a leader, you can reduce anxiety. However, don’t demand clarity from those you lead out of your fear. Be clear to relieve their fear.

    “Spread light where there is darkness; don’t spread darkness where your teams need light.” ~ Kate Nasser


  6. Explore and learn. Explore their talents, ask questions, learn from those you lead. It makes their value and purpose crystal clear. Ask great open-ended questions to help everyone reach the team goals. Yet, avoid the detective approach for it suggests trouble. Explore the positive possibilities with them!

    Dialogue is inspirational and it prevents tunnel vision!


  7. Leading Virtually With Engagement

  8. Empower. To lead virtually, empower with your knowledge, insight, and experience. Likewise, do not dump your responsibilities on those you lead and call it empowerment. Struggling when resources are nearby is tough. Struggling alone when resources are few or far away can be devastating.

    Empower them don’t abandon them!


  9. Be Available. Most leaders see team empowerment as less involvement for them. When leading virtually, empowerment means that employees have access to you and other resources as they work in their local time zone. Employees have to analyze and asses information then decide, and act. How will the teams have access to your knowledge and information when they need it? Ask your employees for examples and ideas on this issue.


  10. Reach out. Simply put, when leading virtually don’t assume silence is golden or no news is good news. Reach out and ask them on a weekly video chat: “What are the top challenges you are dealing with? What chips away at your morale? What can I do to facilitate your success? What would you like me to do differently?”


  11. Inspire them. Your words can woo them to higher levels of achievement or wound them with disdain. Choose wisely. Be honest not blunt. Celebrate their successes and have everyone learn from mistakes. Build togetherness while respecting individuality. Turn monologues into dialogues. In other words, network your inspiration to engage the hearts and minds of those you lead virtually.



Summary Reminder

The evil of isolation from distance or differences undermines the true potential of virtual teams. Reduce isolation through communication and a unified purpose. Engage, inspire, and empower.


From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related posts:
Leading Morale for Big Team Dreams
7 Steps to Inspire & Lead Morale
Introverted Leadership Communication: Essential Responsibilities

©2020 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.



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6 Responses to “Leading Virtually: Leadership Communication Essentials”

  1. Hi Kate!

    This article in some ways has a connection to the one on leadership and introversion. Where introversion can make others “remote,” even if you are standing right next to them, your post here focuses on teams that could be “remote” in the outer sense — being literally distributed across the globe. As a consequence there are many cross-over points in these two posts about the work needed to bridge distance, whether that distance is psychological or real.

    The common — and complicated — theme I take from my own experiences is that distance often equates to ambiguity. In turn, the ambiguity generates anxiety and many other emotions that interfere with our basic need to find connection and understanding in order to do our best work. As leaders, noticing when ambiguity is present isn’t just a call for more information (although that is often helpful); it’s really a call for “high touch” contacts that are meant not just to bridge physical distance but interpersonal separation.

    I love the way your mind works!

    Best
    Dan

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dan,
      This article is the follow-on piece to the post on introverted leaders. In fact, one reader asked me for more info on leading/managing geographically distributed teams (GDTs) and my mind started to work on it.

      The biggest issue — and you captured it in your comment — is the “touch” aspect of communicating. Interpersonal separation does not have to exist in physical distance.

      Especially today with videochat at the desktop and on mobile devices. We have arrived technically — now it’s time to make sure our leadership is all it can be!

      Thrilled to have your continued insights.

      Many thanks,
      Kate

  2. lolly daskal says:

    What a great post. insightful. engaging and inspiring.
    I love reading your posts. They make me think deeper.
    You are the best.
    Lolly

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear Lolly,
      Well then it must be quite mutual. For I can say without hesitation that participating in Leadfromwithin Chat every Tues. night at 8pm ET has excavated an inspirational side of me I never knew existed.

      I am grateful for your comment here for it encourages not just me but many others to discover and implement the deeper thoughts that hide within.

      In every post I try to provide both inspiration and tangible takeaways and am gratified when people tell me it helped them.

      Many thanks Lolly. I hope others will join the chat and discover — as you often call it — heart based leadership.
      Kate

  3. Krista Walsh says:

    Hello Kate, thanks for sharing. As for me, understanding the culture and being clear in communication are the most important essentials nowadays. What do you think about that, considering we are working mostly remotely now?

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Lots of interesting changes going on because of so much virtual work nowadays Krista. I would pay special attention to:

      1. How the work-from-home trend changes the org. culture
      2. What employees need both procedurally and emotionally to sustain performance
      3. How the leaders and managers need to change their leadership & management style to lead virtually

      Many thanks for weighing in on this topic!
      Kate

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