Leading Virtual Teams

Lead from a position of trust



Last April, I received a phone call from an old friend who wanted to vent about a colleague who was particularly struggling as a virtual leader. Like many others, they were working from their respective homes due to COVID. My friend had observed that this colleague, who was leading a team of six, was holding a daily Zoom check-in call at 8:00 am for her team because “she wanted to make sure that they had gotten up.” “Doesn’t she know what she is doing to morale?” my friend expressed in disbelief.

While this story may be an outlier, many leaders were forced into uncharted territory last year, trying to maintain productivity and engagement during a highly challenging time.  Fast forward a year, as we find ourselves slowly getting back to normal, many companies are choosing to allow folks to continue to work from home for various reasons.

When we are leading people in an office environment, we can observe their daily behaviors. When we manage remotely, that goes away. But endless Zoom calls and check-ins are not the answer.  To lead effectively in a virtual environment, we need to keep the following in mind.


Be crystal clear about your expected outcomes. Shift your mindset from “time spent” to “getting the work done.” If the results are there, does it matter whether the person is working 35 hours or 60?

Lead from a position of trust. People need to believe that their leaders have their backs and feel trusted to get done what needs to be done. Some studies during COVID indicated that many people were working 25-30% longer hours than they were when working in an office.

Connect with your people. Checking in with them to see how you can help, what challenges they are facing, and plain old chit-chatting creates social connection and fortifies that feeling of trust.

And finally, be intentional about meetings. Use them to make decisions and design actions. Don’t overdo it with Zoom.

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Continue the discussion on leading virtual teams with Kristen Schmitt at her session Virtual Leadership: Engaging Fully and Onboarding Effectively at Elevate. Register now!


Source: Kristen Schmitt – President, Thrive to Lead, LLC, New Albany, OH

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