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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Virtual Team Leaders: Are You the Life of the Party? | Virtual Team Builder – Blog

It shouldn’t be difficult for you to imagine the last party you attended as we come out of the holiday season. Maybe you have a few standout memories of that special occasion: the food might have been delicious, the decorations, beautiful, and you might have found yourself immersed in the most interesting conversation ever with another guest. However, I’m willing to bet that those details would have meant very little without an outstanding host to tie everything together. We all know a great party host creates a safe and interesting environment for their guests and makes everyone’s comfort level their top priority. Actually, when it comes down to it, an effective virtual leader possesses the very same qualities and demonstrates the same behaviours.
When we really think about it, every great party host has a number of personal characteristics that enable them to be the centre of the party, providing everyone with energy, inspiration, and the ability to simply be themselves. He or she is interested in building a relationship with every guest; similarly, an effective virtual team leader builds relationships with the team members. A good party host will ask their guests questions; this is an indicator of politeness and also puts people at ease and makes them feel valued. Your host may ask “How was the drive over?” or “Have you seen any interesting movies lately?” Naturally, a virtual leader is also interested in putting their team members at ease and making them feel valued. In a virtual team situation, this involves keeping the lines of communication open; asking team members questions about the progress of their tasks or whether they need assistance. Open communication also means virtual leaders should reply to questions and issues that are raised by their team members in a timely and clear manner.
An effective party host also has an unmistakable presence at their party; often, this involves achieving a balance between being overly involved with their guests and under involved. An overbearing party host would likely make guests feel uncomfortable and unable to easily mingle with old and new friends. An overbearing virtual manager can also affect their team negatively. For example, a team member might get the sense they are being micromanaged by an overly involved leader or feel as though their leader lacks faith in their skills and ability to perform. These feelings can quickly deplete a team member of motivation.
Leaving the overbearing party host behind, can you imagine if your host was not seen or heard from the entire night? What if they offered each guest a brief hello before disappearing into the shadows and only making an occasional appearance at their own event? No doubt, that would be an awkward gathering. Similarly, a virtual leader should not have an online presence that is so weak that it can barely be felt. Every leader should regularly check in on their team members in order to keep everyone connected and focused on the task at hand and goals of the team as a whole. Keeping people connected is especially important in a virtual environment where remaining engaged is often difficult for the virtual worker who does not have the benefit of working face to face with their co workers and building close, trusting relationships the traditional way. If a virtual team member does not receive a follow up to their questions, they may wonder about the importance of their tasks and possibly put it on the backburner.
According to a research study developed to evaluate virtual team effectiveness, highly rated virtual leaders were described as personable, open and able to create a fun environment. Remind you of a good party host? A virtual manager can establish a fun and open environment for their team members by creating an online space, such as a chat room, where team members can hang out and casually converse. A virtual leader can also declare regular “break times”, “lunch times”, or “game times” where team members are encouraged to be social with one another in the online space. Virtual pizza parties are another good way to inject a sense of fun into a virtual environment. What good party host doesn’t have food for their guests? A virtual leader can arrange for each team member to receive a pizza from their local pizza place at the exact same time; then, the team meets via teleconference and enjoys their pizza together.
In the end, a virtual leader really is the life of the party. Their position as leader gives them a great deal of influence and the ability to inspire, assist, and get great results from motivated team members. As a good party host takes an interest in establishing a relationship with every guest they’ve invited to their party, an effective team leader constantly has the lines of communication open to their team members and makes the effort to establish a fun, exciting environment that allows everyone to thrive.
We would love to hear your thoughts! For more information about how to build an engaged virtual team, email us at

Virtual Team Leaders: Are You the Life of the Party? | Virtual Team Builder – Blog

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