Virtual Leadership: 5 Tips to Leading Remotely
2020 and 2021 are years that have revolutionized the workplace. More organizations have individuals working remotely than ever before. Since flight crews, flight attendants and maintenance technicians travel away from home base as a “normal” part of their jobs, remote work is a way of life for many in business aviation. Using the lessons from many organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic can help aviation organizations and professionals be their best.
Harvard Business Review provides some great tips on leadership in the world of virtual work. They emphasize the importance of acknowledging that people who work remotely are still people, not just imaginary bytes in cyberspace. To help reiterate this, it can be helpful to have folks open up during meetings about their backgrounds, give video tours of their workspaces, and be focused on relationship building. Working remotely, coworkers cannot just converse with others at the “water cooler”. Perhaps organizations can start video conferences by encouraging people to share a recent professional success or a piece of personal news, so they do not feel isolated.
Because correspondence via voice or written communication can be distracted, many find it better to use video conferencing, when team members find it easier to focus on the meeting because they see each other.
The limitations of virtual work show the importance of the connections that should be established by one-on-one communications, whether that be virtual or in person. Those times that connectivity proves most significant include onboarding and other specified intervals.
Leaders can also establish effective virtual work situations by using the right technology including email, phone calls, and direct messaging. Team members can benefit from conference calling and video calling technology for effective meetings and to promote human interaction. Another tip is when folks are working virtually, it can pay dividends to have a discussion forum or virtual team room to facilitate the sharing of material and ideas, and leave comments for each other on various topics.
The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness (CMOE) takes this a step further by compiling five key skills for effective virtual leadership. Even for aviation professionals who are remote by nature of their work, these can be positive attributes of an effective leader. The skills described by CMOE include:
Communication - The importance of communication cannot be overstated. We have already covered some tools that organizations can use to provide connection between team members.
Trust - Trust is built over time. Leaders can help to build trust in a virtual environment by providing availability for questions, and accessibility to team members. Also, trust is aided by a leader providing direct recognition of milestones and achievements.
Clarity - Clarity is established when leaders invest effort to ensure each person understands their scope of work, the processes, deadlines, and expectations. It is important to be clear when responses are expected by team members and what to do if other team members do not respond in a timely fashion.
Support - A leader provides support to co-workers when they target the loneliness felt by many remote workers and addressing the emotions of their team, and by ensuring that the team knows that leadership is available to help.
Empowerment - Empowerment is another quality that a leader can build into people by ensuring that employees are confident in their ability to perform their tasks and provide them with decision making authority in their areas of responsibility.
These components of leadership can really help a leader shine, and the influence of such leaders in aviation can help all aviation professionals be their best. Whether you are in leadership, aspire to be in leadership, or if you are not technically in leadership but you hope to have a positive influence on others by promoting professionalism within your organization, hopefully these concepts are ones you can use today and every day.