Good Work Traits to Become an Effective Virtual Team Leader

BY Tim Londergan
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Managers must re-​think many of their skillsets due to the dramatic shift toward virtual work arrangements. As a leader, your own good work traits must evolve as you attempt to build team unity when employees work at a distance. As a result, the challenge of communication, organization and relationship-​building in a remote environment can be overcome.

Good work traits include delegation skills

In the traditional sense, delegating meant sending or appointing a trusted individual to speak or act for you. In the virtual work world, delegating takes on a more spontaneous approach and requires managers to hone a new skillset. Consequently, developing the good work traits for delegating is transferable to other disciplines of the virtual workplace as the basic skills are common to all.

The challenge of virtual distance

The authors of “Embrace Delegation as a Skill to Strengthen Remote Teams” (registration required) describe the three dimensions of remote work vulnerabilities: physical, operational and affinity. Consequently, these weaknesses can be strengthened by improving delegation skills. However, managers must simultaneously assign responsibility for outcomes along with the authority to do what is needed to produce the desired result. Although somewhat tricky, delegation skills contain the good work traits needed to succeed.

Physical distance, for instance, can be narrowed with digital collaboration tools. Further, these tools coupled with encouragement can lead to strong relationships among colleagues. Likewise, the operational distance gap can be solved with improved communication and technology fluency. Finally, the affinity distance, referring to a sense of emotional and mental disconnect, can be alleviated with trust and empowerment. For instance, you may take a highly significant task and assign it to a trusted employee to prove your confidence and faith in their capability.

Effective delegation requires practice

According to the authors, this new style of delegation requires practice and a clear obligation to your own productivity. Understandably, you must handle your own responsibilities and establish a personal schedule that is communicated to your team. Next, you must empower and trust others to handle certain tasks with your input. Ultimately, your good work traits will be translated through the efforts of others. In total, the authors offer six tips to develop the crucial skill of delegation. Below are highlights to get you started:

  • A visible checklist – List all the tasks to be done and isolate what you must do from the jobs that others can be assigned to. Through self-​reflection, understand your core capabilities and, more importantly, your shortcomings. The authors suggest integrating Google Task® or Microsoft To Do® as digital assistants.
  • Different strokes – First, accept that tasks will be approached in a manner different from your own. Crucially, “Trusting other people is the only way to expand the scope of your influence as well as build a pool of dependable hands available for such tasks,” according to the authors. Remember, the outcome is more important than the process.
  • Communicate and trust – “Frequent and clear communication is key,” say the authors. In addition, you must welcome feedback and be available for follow-​up questions on your assignments. What’s more, you are ultimately responsible for the actions of your delegate, so assume the role of mentor to assure the quality of this communication throughout its cycle.

The delegator’s checklist

The notable human resource organization, SHRM​.org, provides a dozen tips for keeping your head straight when pursuing the good work traits of delegation. First, they recommend you ask frequently, “Who else could do this?” Second, question the desired outcome and be specific about the expected results. After all, it’s only fair for your delegate to be fully informed and aware of the consequences and rewards of their actions. Finally, provide training and guidance to give your representative confidence and the freedom for independent thinking.

They depend on your support

Coaching, follow-​up, guidance, and support are the recipe for successful delegation. Refreshingly, today’s virtual work environment allows managers to provide these important elements through enhanced digital programs and psychometric assessments.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash