The Virtual Leadership Flip

February 19th, 2013 | Posted by Sue in Leadership News - (2 Comments)

Work from the comfort of your own home

When running a business remotely it may seem like a struggle to complete basic tasks, such as simple meetings, without real-life face-to-face contact. Engaging successfully with your community is very important for a virtual leader, in order to maintain workforce productivity to ensure that projects are carried out successfully.

Flipping the virtual lead needs strong objectives so that meetings, projects and deadlines run smoothly. Find ways of communicating clearly without feeling distant and fully engaged is the cultural change needed to meet instant communication challenges and expectations. If you are “in charge” remember you don’t always have to be the leader-not got the time to!

You’ll be glad to know there are plenty of social media tools and computer software packages that can assist with this and make your virtual leadership more effective. Here are some great tools that can be very beneficial, if not vital, for virtual work forces:

Skype

Skype is a useful piece of online software that allows people to communicate through voice or video over the internet. It is one of the most important tools for remote working, as it gives you the means to contact your work force to discuss company related issues and projects, bringing the traditional work meeting into the virtual world.

Unlike email, the conversation is instant, so no more waiting for replies in order to progress a project. Slow exchanges can be detrimental to your company, so Skype is an essential tool for remote businesses. It can also provide opportunities to work with long distance clients without spending a lot of your budget on travel, therefore making business easier and more profitable.

With Skype offering online personal phone numbers for use wherever you are, many people never actually have to meet clients in person. It’s now possible to contact anyone around the world without being charged expensive international rates. Why not get on Skype to reach more clients, discuss your ideas and get the creativity flowing?

GoToMeeting

Similar to Skype, GoToMeeting is also a tool that can allow you to hold long-distance meetings with colleagues and clients. It’s easy to use and understand, which means you won’t have to waste your time instructing clients how to use this tool and can therefore instantly focus on what needs to be discussed, just as you would do in a traditional work environment.

GoToMeeting also has a built-in screen-sharing feature, so you can share the contents of your screen with colleagues and clients to show the presentations and files required. This makes the experience just like a traditional office meeting, but without burdening you or your clients with unneeded travel.

Connect with anyone

Podio

Podio is an online platform that helps you to stay in contact with your work colleagues. It has a task management system, where you can set tasks and deadlines for colleagues and yourself. This allows everyone to know what has been achieved and what hasn’t, so everyone in the team is aware of which stage the project is at. You can also store knowledge on Podio to keep everyone up to date with the news relating to your industry, and to make everyone aware of business procedures and important company information.

Yammer

Yammer is similar to Podio, and is also used for having private conversations with work colleagues through the use of a closed online community. The difference? Podio is more versatile as the apps are very customisable to fully suit the needs of a company, whereas Yammer is less customisable but is a bit easier to set up. They are both very useful for remote working, however, and can be seriously beneficial to a company where real-life contact is limited. Podio and Yammer are both effective for tracking projects and inspiring productivity through the sharing of ideas. This is particularly important for a remote working company as it will allow your workforce to input ideas and give feedback as they would in a traditional working environment, therefore improving your outcomes.

Evernote

Evernote helps you to archive ideas and store notes on devices, so that you can always come back to an idea or remind yourself of something important later. It can store web pages, voice files, text documents and photographs, as well as handwritten documents through the use of handwriting recognition software. This is great for virtual companies to share and keep track of what each person is working on, and also helpful to pick up on everyone else’s ideas. Files can be synced with any device that you use as well, so it’s great for when you’re on the go, as well as getting new employees up to speed on the company’s activity.

Organise your notes so you'll never forget anything

Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition software recognises what you are saying in order to allow you to get something written up without having to tire out your fingers on the keyboard. This is great for the online Skype meetings – meeting notes can be typed up without the extra effort. Speech recognition software is particularly important for remote workers as reminders of what has been discussed are vital, so project details can be checked. You can be safe in the knowledge that your employees are fully aware of their roles within a project, which will ensure the best result possible.

Hopefully this list of tools will assist the smooth running of your virtual company, and reassure you that face-to-face contact is not necessary to manage a successful business.

5 reasons to use ideas from The Virtual Leadership Flip to learn how to lead virtually are:
• Opportunity to lead using new tools and technologies
• Reach remote staff across the globe and reduce travel costs
• Understand how to increase revenue
• Hold interactive webinars and meetings
• Opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification in Remote Management

Sue Davison MD

http://www.instituteofvirtualleadership.co.uk

Last week, the lovely people at the Learning Consultancy Partnership asked me to write a guest blog post for them about virtual leadership. Remote management and leadership is a difficult art to master, but it has become a necessity in a world where teams can be spread around the globe and people choose to work from home. That’s why I decided to write about my  top tips for virtual leaders. You can read the full post on the LCP site but I’ve summed them up here as well to whet your appetite:

1. Consistency

Consistently and regularly touching base with your team makes everyone feel stable, listened to and in control.  I suggest using tools like Basecamp or Yammer which make it easy to stay in touch. Virtual teams

2. Clarity
When you’re communicating remotely you can miss out on important visual cues like body language and facial expressions. Misinterpretations are a common occurance. You can overcome this by using video call services such as Skype and using emoticons and clear, descriptive language in emails and other text-based messages. Always ask yourself “have I made this 100% clear?” before pressing ‘send’.

3. Accountability
A common problem arising from people not working in the same office is that individuals make assumptions of who is responsible for the different aspects of a project and tasks end up falling through the gaps. Make sure this doesn’t happen by making a list of every task and the person responsible for its completion and then share the list with the whole team.

4. Individuality
Each member of your team is an individual and should be treated as such. You can’t simply engage with everyone as a team. Identify and appreciate each individual member of that team and their specific needs and input into the project.

5. Technology
Collaborative tools are a must for the remote workforce. I recommend tools like the aforementioned Basecamp, Google Documents and Dropbox. Some collaborative tools offer ways to personalise the experience, and these are a great way for a team to bond as it makes sure everyone feels like they’re talking to real people.

 

 

Social media is about people and communication, so there’s always been a connection between social media, ethics and behaviour. People who don’t use social media are bombarded with negative press about it, such as stories of people losing their jobs because of something they’ve shared on Facebook.

Recently the Twitter joke trial reached the High Court. Paul Chambers, tweeting to his friends (but in the public forum of Twitter) in January 2010, seeing that Robin Hood airport was closed because of snow, he playfully tweeted “You’ve got a week… otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!” He got a criminal conviction and lost his job. He is now appealing against his conviction in the High Court.

Social Media is an absolute boon for the virtual leader but how do we decide what to share on social networks? How can we be sure we are acting ethically? Professor Roger Steare has developed a framework for making the right decisions which is outlined in his book ethicability® – How to decide what’s right and find the courage to do it. This framework has been adopted as part of the Code of Conduct at BP and is the basis of the leadership and business ethics programs that Steare develops for such organisations as HSBC, PwC and Citigroup.

The framework contains an easy to remember mnemonic: RIGHT. Let’s take a look at how this might work with social media. These questions will be helpful to work through either for you as an individual as you decide how you want to use social media or if you’re putting together a social media campaign for your business:

What are the RULES?

Am I allowed to share this? Find out what your company’s social media policy is (if you have one) and identify whether there are certain things you are and are not allowed to say. Is what you are saying illegal or could it result in a legal challenge?

Are we acting with INTEGRITY?

Is what you are saying in line with your personal values? Ten moral values that Steare outlines in his book are wisdom, fairness, courage, self-control, trust, hope, love, honesty, humility and excellence.

Who is this GOOD for?

Who will this tweet or status update benefit? What will the positive consequences be for other people of what I share?

Who could we HARM?

Will what I am about to share hurt anyone? What might be the negative outcomes of what I share?

What’s the TRUTH?

Am I being open and honest? Authenticity in social media is really important – people can usually spot a fake very quickly.

Last September I blogged about the ethical failure of a Twitter campaign run by American Express called #amexbeinspired – I can only think that if they had worked through this ethicability® RIGHT framework as they were planning their campaign that it would have looked very different indeed!

If you want to find out a bit more about how you prefer to make decisions – what Roger Steare calls your ‘Moral DNA™’ – you can take a free personality test here.