We are living in the virtual world and more and more our teams are located in various locations around the globe. The separation of time and space has created challenges to communication, to productivity and there is much that can be lost in the translation if a leader isn’t careful to navigate the virtual space with grace and adaptability.
Virtual teams primarily interact electronically and may occasionally meet face-to-face. Leadership who lead must be able to effectively deal with the realities of time compression, scattered resources, an increased dependency on knowledge-based input. There is a premium on flexibility and adaptability, and the fact that most of the information their teams comes in electronic form. The advantage of virtual teams is that they take advantage of the electronic infrastructure, which enables them to work in parallel rather than serially. This access allows teams to have the latest and best knowledge and information. The flexibility of this time and space gives each member the ability to to participate from remote sites without abandoning other aspects of their work and home lives. Thus, the virtual world is gives our organizations the benefit of affording our teams the balance to have the ability to work at a pace that fits within their life. It can, however, be overwhelming for many who are not the best at the time management. For successful virtual teams to work, leaders must be well versed in the components that will compromise these virtual teams to work. You need the right team members, identifying and communicating a clear purpose, develop a high performance technical infrastructure to handle the workload for the virtual team to work seamlessly, and a culture that supports the information sharing that is required by all team members.
A leader must establish early on trust and honesty within their teams. Without this foundation, virtual teams not matter the technological advantages can be halted. There is no technology that can replace trust. Interpersonal skills, communication are still very much at the heart of how we lead. Leaders must ensure that we are not leaving out the human touch as we traverse the virtual space with our teams. With all leadership, virtually and in real life, it comes down to people. Engaging in real conversation is still essentially. Not all conversations can be held in the virtual space. We need to remember that leaders have to use the platforms and technology as productivity tool, to enhance the process but we cannot be interactive in our human contact without including face time.