Virtual leadership skills were one of the most sought-after skill sets in the last twelve months, and they certainly aren’t going down in popularity anytime soon. However, what’s the real benefit of these skills on a business level? How do virtual leadership skills impact business outcomes in a tangible, visible way?
Today we’re going to take a look at what the research has to say, and to say that it’s eye-opening is an understatement of the highest account. So if you’re on the edge of your seat ready to find out how virtual leadership skills stack up, keep on reading.
Employee disengagement costs organisations $300 billion annually
When working remotely it can be easy for employees to feel disconnected, lonely and distracted. This can lead to increases in employee disengagement if virtual leaders are unable to connect with and rally their teams online.
According to a Gallup study, lost productivity due to employee disengagement costs U.S. businesses more than $300 billion annually. So, perhaps it’s time to review your virtual team rituals and how you approach team members when you notice their behaviour has changed. If you’re looking for specific help, here’s some tips on addressing underperformance in your virtual team.
Skills in the digital era
We’ve mentioned the importance of digital literacy in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a mention today. Being comfortable using various forms of digital technology and being able to speed up adoption of new platforms is essential to the speed and efficiency of your virtual teams.
Defining what skills characterise leaders in the digital era has become a matter of interest in the literature. For example, digitalisation opens up new possibilities such as virtual teams and smart working, introduces new communication tools, increases speed and information access, influences power structures, and increases efficiency and standardisation.
High speed decision making
When working in co-located offices it was often a principle behaviour to walk down the hall to the corner office to get permission on decisions before pulling the switch. However, with teams working and communicating asynchronously it is clear that many individuals need to be able to make decisions quickly. This includes leaders of virtual teams.
Scholars agree that e-business leaders are forced to make decisions more rapidly. This seems to suggest that decisiveness, and problem-solving abilities keep being extremely relevant for e-leaders, and may become even more prominent in the future (Horner-Long and Schoenberg, ).
Team structure changes offering new skills in new areas
When team structures change and are opened up cross-functionally, the skills and expertise of individuals is more easily accessible and shareable. This can lead to new innovations that move a company forward as well as unique problem-solving approaches.
This has enabled teams to draw upon a varied array of expertise, regardless of location (Jawadi et al., ), making it easier to access and recruit talent across the globe. By facilitating the heterogeneity of team members, it has fostered creativity and innovation, due to the possibility of combining different perspectives (Gupta and Pathak).
Do you see your team in the findings throughout this article? We hope you’ve found this research as fascinating and interesting as we have. If you’re keen to learn more about virtual teams, we’ve got a whole lot of information on the subject.
We’ve even explored one of the newest team structures, hybrid teams, which are set to revolutionise the workplace. Learn more about that today to stay in the know and keep moving your company forward.