It's hardly a shock when you think about it, what with the general state of travel, cutbacks, and four more obvious state-of-the-world dilemmas: Virtual teams are on the rise. According to a new survey from Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), "more than two-thirds (67%) [of companies surveyed] foresee their reliance on virtual teams mushrooming in importance. In companies with more than 10,000 employees, the virtual team concept jumps to more than 80%."
According to Mary Key, i4cp’s leadership "pillar" director. “What it foreshadows, however, is the greater need for the development of virtual leadership skills. I expect more and more corporations will put more effort into developing this skill set internally.”
I don't know what a leadership pillar is but I agree with Ms. Key that the need for greater virtual leadership skills is very great indeed. We're wrapping up a project where we've been working with a crack team charged with developing a handbook for leaders who have to work in this new way - across organization, culture, timezones - AND with peers. Command and control, obviously, doesn't cut it in situations like this so what's a "virtual leader" to do?
For one thing, get rid of those long-standing war rooms, skunkworks, as per the scent that arises from people working in windowless settings dressed in flip charts and armed with magic markers. "Don’t look now, but your project team meeting room is virtually disappearing," says the Institute for Corporate Productivity's press release.
Again, I agree. I'll come back to this in the weeks to come but will leave it here for now. Our team decided to focus on three verbs in the handbook--Communicate, Collaborate, and Develop--laying out simple processes for each that are natural to leaders.