Leadership, much like any important skill one can possess, has various types. One of the traits of a good leader is the ability to ensure the entire team’s interests and needs in any given situation. This trait, in turn, paves the way to other vital qualities, not least of which is adaptability. In times of great disruption, adaptability could not be more important. Otherwise, your weaknesses as a leader will become glaringly obvious in no time.
Where does virtual leadership development come in with regard to adaptability? Well, just think of scenarios that will force a lot of major industries and companies to rely on work-from-home arrangements. Such a practice, while already prevalent in certain industries like IT, is still fairly terra incognita for a lot of other industries.
Recent developments such as the coronavirus pandemic, indeed, all the more exposed the need for better virtual leadership development. This is all the more highlighted by a lot of companies that can afford to adopt work-from-home settings not having a ready virtual workplace for their employees. And even if they do, productivity tends to be dealt crippling blows courtesy of lack of virtual leadership skills.
To tackle this challenge and gain a more crystal-clear view of virtual leadership, it’s only apt to learn what it is first as well as the unique advantages that it brings to the table for a lot of teams and companies in these dire times.
Virtual Leadership Defined
Also termed as virtual management or e-leadership, this is a form of leadership that excels in a setting where every member of the team does not (if at all) meet physically. It is not a different category of leadership in itself, as it pretty much falls under the category of transformational leadership, which happens to be results-oriented. It is a type of leadership that still manages to ensure the productivity and performance of employees in a virtual workplace.
It is a given that virtual teams require leaders with skill sets that are more attuned to such an environment. As much as possible, it adheres to the behavioral factors inherent in transformational leadership such as:
- Considering every individual’s needs (i.e. team members) so they can develop and drive the growth of the whole team in turn. Coaching and mentoring are but some of the ways virtual leaders ensure employee morale and productivity.
- Encouraging others to think outside the box. Virtual leaders are expected to stimulate others to come up with innovative ways to tackle issues and challenge beliefs.
- Ensuring communication with the help of motivation. A virtual leader reaches out to followers to make known his expectations of them and is willing to appeal to them emotionally. In turn, this encourages everyone to be open to communication in the virtual office, too.
What’s apparent from these facets of transformational leadership is that virtual leadership is more about inspiring and coaching and less about directing and guiding. Of course, a leader can only ever acquire these qualities with proper training and making major behavioral changes. This is where virtual leadership development comes in.
Stressing The Importance Of Giving More Focus On Virtual Leadership Development
Considering the challenges that are unique and inherent in a virtual office, it is only right to start paying more attention to this form of leadership skill. Distractions often abound in such settings after all, to the point that most companies just resign themselves to the fact that slashes in productivity, as a result, are inevitable. This is especially true in cases where the employees and managers did not receive the necessary training for such digital settings.
Indeed, the importance of virtual leadership development readily becomes obvious due to the simple fact that it underlines the inherent issues of a virtual workplace. Here are but some of the major challenges teams usually face that affect productivity:
- Poor communication – Since all members are working remotely and in different time zones, there’s a very high chance that vital work information might not be passed around optimally – unless a solid communication framework is set up.
- Loss of morale – Again, this stems from a lack of face-to-face communication. There might be a lack of a feeling camaraderie because of this, which leads to everyone’s spirits taking a downturn.
As you can see, plenty of these problems can be addressed with a competent and well-trained virtual leader at the helm. A good virtual leader well-trained in transformational leadership and virtual leadership will be more than ready to tackle the challenges that innately affect virtual teams by virtue of their focus on motivational and inspirational leadership.
It Is Never Too Late To Start Promoting Virtual Leadership Development
Even as we write this, there are already numerous platforms that, more or less, take advantage of technology to promote virtual leadership development. A great example is ProHabits, which has developed an entire system to promote leadership development in various virtual workplaces. What makes the platform valuable is the fact that it gives more focus on realizing great ideas by taking action. It takes part in proactively providing first-hand motivation, training, and fulfillment of leadership goals. It, in short, gets things done.
Here are but some of the compelling reasons why many countries can and should start focusing on improving virtual leadership development:
- It can be done anywhere and anytime. At the heart of virtual leadership lies digital learning, which is readily accessible. In the event that schools and other educational institutions are forced to close due to unforeseen circumstances, virtual leadership development can still persist and even thrive.
- It will ensure that virtual teams of the future will experience fewer disruptions and greater boosts in productivity. Leaders, virtual or otherwise, drive growth, after all, and growth in a digital setting can only be guaranteed by a proficient virtual leader.
There is no shortage of individuals, companies, and groups that are enthusiastic in encouraging virtual leadership development, especially among the younger generation.
The coronavirus crisis revealed one critical: that any pandemic or any kind of major disruption or event for that matter can still grind to a halt modern society, no matter how far we seem to have come in advancing technology. It also highlighted another fact: that we should never be complacent. We should, as much as possible, be open to adapting to change, all the more so our leaders.
If you are interested in even more business-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.