Trust: the magic ingredient in Virtual Teams

My one essential ingredient leading a dispersed team effectively

trust: a jigsaw of many ingredients

Leading over distance, being a virtual leader, is the norm in most international organisations.
Yet, it is a widespread view in business that virtual teams are often managed badly and are performing way under their potential or the expectations of the organisation. I am sure no leader in such a position is happy with this kind of assessment. And maybe a human reaction is to just negate such a verdict and turn a blind eye on the challenge!

The one essential

Here I want to share one more essential element that contributes massively to my effectiveness in leading over distance.   It sounds very simple:

Developing and keeping trust at a high level in and with people reporting to you.

Needless to say that trust is also necessary in co-located teams to perform well. The difference in emphasis comes through a dynamic factor called amplification which is only observable in virtual teams. It means that aspects like trust become highly amplified in a virtual setting due to missing or reduced personal face-to-face interaction in the team. Hence, in a virtual setting this peculiar dynamic makes it absolutely vital to have high levels of trust.

Trust in a team has many facets. It ranges from trusting in each other’s competencies, each other’s commitments doing a good job and in each other as a person. All these elements can be addressed separately or as a mix. So the real question is how you can develop all these elements in order to develop or enhance the level of trust in your virtual team.

My approach:
Step 1: Self assessment

I always start with an honest self assessment of my behaviour related to these facets of trust. What are my watch-outs and development areas to ensure I can uphold high standards in these elements?

I have seen leaders pretending to be technically competent in a particular area for which they have taken on a new responsibility in the hope to quickly gain respect and recognition as a leader. Their interaction revealed fairly quickly that it was more pretence than substance what they displayed. This, or example, is a killer for trust.

Step2 : Impact of my behaviour on trust in my context

In a further step I scrutinize in what way my behaviour serves as a positive example for creating great relationships and enhancing trust in my direct context?

First I ask myself: Do I foster empathy and compassion as key element of personal trust? As the leader I am aware that I set the tone in my team!
In addition I ask myself:  How much do I inspire people working with or for me? How much do they feel in connection to something bigger and serving a high purpose beyond our existence?

Am I perfect in all of this to grow trust?

Of course not! However, I have high aspirations to develop my leadership competencies. And I see it as essential to enhance my ability to grow trust in my virtual setting to become more effective overall.

The amplification principle

Above all, I always try to keep the amplification principle in mind! Even if I feel I have a long way to go with a team, I keep in mind that every step I make counts much more in a virtual context than in a local one.
So I hope sharing my experience here gives you some food for thought. And should this thought lead you to more questions you want to discuss with someone, I am offering the first 10 leaders who register with us a FREE of charge 30 minutes individual consultation on how best to apply these tips in your context.

Please register under the link below so that we can get in touch with you.

free-consultation for trust: the magic ingredient


Or you can leave a comment below to maybe start a discussion.

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