As a result of the global pandemic, chances are the majority of your employees are working from home. By now, you must have realized that this new set-up creates a greater need for effective collaboration. With face-to-face interaction eliminated from the equation, for the time being, it’s critical that your organization’s collaborative leadership is at the top of its game.
The role of leaders takes on even greater significance in today’s virtual work world. At this point, the last thing you want to do is take a step back from the progress you have made as a company and revert to command-and-control leadership tactics to ensure that you get the work done. Instead, it would be best to get your virtual industry thought leaders to work together toward a more progressive and effective way to meet your goals, even through virtual means.
What is collaborative leadership?
Today’s work-from-home norm has pushed for collaborative leadership’s spike in demand among businesses everywhere. Collaborative leadership is a management practice, which effectively breaks down corporate hierarchies to bring all key players in the business together, from executives and managers to employees and even customers.
When employing collaborative leadership correctly, everyone has a seat at the table to express their opinion. All voices are heard and considered, and as a result, the collective group often achieves new goals efficiently. As a highly effective leadership model, collaborative leadership is known to boost employee motivation and positive emotions.
How can I master virtual collaborative leadership within my organization?
As you continue to lead your employees, here are seven proven collaborative leadership tactics to make them feel more comfortable and confident in what they do in today’s virtual work environment.
1. Maintain relationship practices
Without a strong relationship as a solid foundation, any efforts at collaboration will fail. If you want to perfect leading your organization’s virtual collaboration, try looking at it through the same lens as you would look at a relationship.
One major part of maintaining healthy relationships is to provide the other person with respect and dignity. Take this same approach when addressing your employees.
It may seem difficult to build relationships on a virtual basis, but it is not impossible. With a lack of face-to-face interactions in a remote work environment, try enhancing relationships by joining calls with video, not just audio. This will make your interactions feel more human even though you are meeting virtually. Also, do not stress too much if you have children or pets on the background. They add to the authenticity of your current work-from-home reality. This could also help you and your team relate to each other better.
As you encourage your employees to build relationships in an environment where everyone is working remotely, you will also have to ensure that they have the tools to do so, such as a strong network connection, a reliable laptop, and a functioning webcam.
2. Identify a common goal and purpose
One of the main reasons collaboration fails is because people give in to personal gains and desires rather than looking at it from a team perspective. As a leader, you must help your team find a common goal and purpose. This will help you move forward on your virtual collaborative leadership mission.
Alongside your team, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Begin a discussion on how individual goals can be combined into one cohesive goal. Once your team has identified a mutual purpose, they will need to begin working toward achieving the team’s common goals.
As a team, it’s vital to maintain a team-oriented mindset, not a solitary mindset.
3. Act as a role model
If you haven’t already, you should begin thinking like a virtual industry thought leader. Then, set the example for your team to follow. Humans most effectively acquire new skills and knowledge by watching and modeling others. If you set a good example, you will begin to see your team’s long-term behavioral change.
Be the first to champion relationship-building and connecting individual goals with the overall team goals. Your employees will then begin to see you as a trustworthy leader worth following.
4. Be there for your team
Make it a habit to give your team undivided attention as if you were in the office even though you are collaborating in the virtual workplace. Begin by allotting designated time where employees can drop in for a quick chat. Be there to answer their questions, lend a listening ear, or provide advice as needed.
In addition to these drop-in sessions, make it also a habit to schedule one-on-ones with your team members. This will allow you to stay updated with their progress on all current projects as well as the general well-being of each team member — both of which are of utmost importance in a remote work environment.
5. Build a supportive community
When employees have support from their leader, there is a greater chance that overall performance, morale, and well-being will increase significantly. As a leader, you are responsible for setting the tone for building an inclusive and supportive community where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and concerns. It will also help if you have guidelines in place to enforce mutual support between your team members.
6. Give your team clarity on roles and tasks
Get rid of any confusion by clarifying the roles and tasks of everyone on your team. It is even more important in a remote work environment to provide role clarity to foster effective collaboration.
However, you may sometimes find it necessary to tweak roles and priorities as your team will likely have different areas of strength in a virtual workplace that they may not have in a physical one or vice versa.
Once you have identified roles or made any shifts among your team’s roles, be open to answering clarifications from all members about their work tasks. You will soon find greater efficiency in collaboration, strengthening relationships, and accomplishing tasks.
7. Be humble
When it comes to collaborative leadership, leave your ego outside of the door. Collaborative leadership is all about teamwork, so the last thing you should do is make it about yourself. If you make a mistake — which all humans do — do not be so hard on yourself. Stay humble by admitting your error, apologizing, and moving forward with a better game plan.
How can I be an effective collaborative leader in today’s virtual workplace?
As we continue to navigate the global pandemic, business leaders are finding new ways to lead their teams effectively. While you work toward perfecting your collaborative leadership skills, be sure to exercise caution and be prepared for any bumps in the road. Overall, never forget that humanity and authenticity play essential roles in collaborative leadership and serve as strong backbones to any business.
At Infinity Consulting Solutions (ICS), we have been adjusting to the new normal of working remotely. Even if we are not officially in the office, please know that we are still here to help your business in talent acquisition and thrive through these tough times to emerge as strong virtual collaborative leaders. Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about anything — from recruiting the right people to enhancing your leadership skills.