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Cultivating Virtual Leaders

April 17, 2018

Helping leaders emerge supports your team, goals, and productivity.

The introduction of a remote team need not disrupt your company’s formal hierarchy, but it will contribute to the emergence of informal leaders within the organization. This should work to your competitive advantage over the long term. It promotes an environment in which individuals have more opportunities to align their interests and aspirations with the organization’s business goals, to everyone’s benefit. How can you foster virtual leadership for remote teams?

  • Rethink what leadership development means within your business. You don’t need to be managing people or managing large transactions to be a leader. Members of your team may emerge as leaders in conducting research, testing theories, identifying market opportunities, creating bonds within the team, or devising efficiency improvements. Each can be recognized for leadership in the context of those individual contributions.
  • Find the right rewards for each person’s contributions. Rewards can be extrinsic (for example, salary increases or monetary bonuses) or intrinsic, and the intrinsic rewards often are more highly valued. Identify the intrinsic rewards that resonate most to make the work more meaningful and satisfying to each employee, whether the motivation is exposure, continued learning, or simply expressions of appreciation.
  • Ask employees what they need to be more successful. The other side of that equation is to articulate what you need from them so they can be more successful. Work together to establish what will motivate them and what career path would be most meaningful to them.

Identifying, recognizing, and rewarding informal leaders strengthens the virtual workplace, promotes employee loyalty, and positions the company for improved performance and growth prospects.

Read the Managing a Distributed Workforce guide to learn how to build remote team leadership from within.

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