Virtual Leadership Competencies

Virtual leadership has become a critical competency for managers in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing corporate world. The epidemic of COVID-19 has expedited the trend to remote work, making virtual leadership and collaboration more crucial than ever before.

Thus, virtual team leaders must be able to manage and inspire their remote teams, foster mutual respect and cooperation, and generate excellent business results. In this post, we’ll take a look at the key virtual leadership skills that professional managers need to flourish in the digital era.

Top 8 Virtual Leadership Skills and Competencies

1. Communication

Digital leadership is built on efficient communication. When team members are separated from each other, it’s vital to improve communication often and in a way that each individual understands clearly. To keep your team informed, motivated, and engaged, as a virtual leader, you must utilize a variety of software solutions and tactics, including:

  • Video conferencing tools;
  • Chatbots and messengers;
  • Team communication tools;
  • Project management platforms;
  • Content creation tools, etc.

Additionally, it’s essential to keep cultural and language variances in mind since they might have an impact on communication performance. That said, to guarantee that every employee’s perspectives are heard and valued, you should encourage an open discourse and listening skills.

2. Adaptability

Another key online leadership quality is the willingness to adapt swiftly to changing conditions. To adapt to shifting challenges and possibilities, virtual leaders must be able to rotate their strategies, procedures, and methods as needed. They must also be at ease with unpredictability and confusion, as virtual work may be volatile and turbulent.

Adaptable remote team leaders are flexible and versatile. They are able to negotiate changes with confidence and perseverance, anticipating possible obstacles and developing well-thought-out contingency plans to keep their remote teams on pace.

3. Empathy

Empathy is a vital trait for team leaders. Especially when it comes to separated team members that collaborate online, as it can be quite difficult to detect nonverbal clues and comprehend others’ feelings and requirements. As a leader, you have to be sensitive to the sentiments and viewpoints of your team members and offer patience, tolerance, and assistance.

Caring and compassionate virtual leaders generate a sense of connection and unity in their virtual teams. They know how to foster a welcoming and inclusive workplace in which employees feel appreciated and respected.

4. Strategic Thinking

Cyberspace leaders must be strategic thinkers, capable of seeing the broad picture and predicting future tendencies and possibilities. As a virtual team manager, you must be able to link your team’s goals with the overall strategy of the business and guarantee that each employee is striving towards a unified goal.

Successful managers are proactive in detecting new trends and difficulties, plus, they understand how to shift the emphasis of their teams accordingly. They have a data-driven and analytical mindset and are able to properly measure progress and performance with the right metrics and KPIs.

5. Coaching and Development

Digital supervisors must be good coaches and mentors that are able to guide and encourage their subordinates while developing their skills and competencies. Thus, you want to do the following:

  • Provide constructive comments;
  • Set relevant goals;
  • Draft expansion plans that promote individual and team progress.

Mentoring online team leaders, establish a culture of continual learning and progress in their teams, as well as a growth attitude. They encourage employees to take control of their own growth and career advancement, as well as offer opportunities for upskilling.

6. Results Orientation

Virtual leaders must be results-oriented, with an emphasis on accomplishing quantifiable objectives and providing value to their stakeholders. They must be able to identify success criteria, set specific expectations, and hold themselves and their teams accountable for accomplishing these goals.

Results-oriented managers are data-driven, employing metrics and KPIs to track progress and success. Such experts are proactive in recognizing and addressing potential roadblocks, and they celebrate accomplishments and milestones along the way.

7. Delegation

As a leader, you should be capable of delegating duties and responsibilities to your virtual team members, depending on their abilities, expertise, and aptitude. You want to put your faith in each employee in your remote squad to deliver high-quality work while providing guidance and assistance as needed.

Virtual leaders that delegate authority encourage their team members to take responsibility for their tasks and become more skillful. Moreover, this way, employees will also have more time to concentrate on strategy formulation and stakeholder engagement.

8. Conflict Resolution

Virtual leaders must be conflict resolution experts capable of identifying and resolving conflicts and disputes within their teams. They must be able to foster positive debate and cooperation, as well as identify win-win solutions that meet the needs of all parties involved.

Conflict resolution skills help virtual leaders foster an open and trusting atmosphere in which team members feel comfortable sharing their problems and working together to discover solutions. They also demonstrate good conflict-resolution skills, including attentive listening, sympathy, and tolerance.

About Virtual Team Challenges and Solutions

In a virtual team, the labor process and results of labor are individualized. All stages of intellectual labor take place in people’s heads and, therefore, are difficult to control. This can be a real challenge in spreading transformational leadership.

The human capital of an efficient virtual team is highly educated, aimed at democratic relations with the leadership, has high self-discipline, and is capable of self-management and self-motivation. Therefore, continuous monitoring of work activities is not the primary task of the leader. Effective leadership releases and mobilizes the knowledge of subordinates, who work well and responsibly even without monitoring.

Researchers have found that neither punishment nor encouragement is an effective mechanism for influencing employees. Punishment demotivates highly educated members of a virtual team, while encouragement is difficult because considering each team member’s contribution to the overall product is complex for the leader.

Leaders should motivate employees by emphasizing shared goals and corporate values. The task of any virtual leader is to create a picture of reality shared by the followers, building on the organization’s unified value system by becoming a participant in group dynamics. Thus, leadership must become:

  • Horizontal;
  • Collegial;
  • Consultative;
  • More latent than explicit.

Existing methods of traditional leadership are archaic and in a virtual team, lead to “an inhibition of information flows, prevent employees’ ability to produce new ideas, block entrepreneurial spirit, inhibit adaptation and, as a result, have a negative impact on the overall productivity of the company.”


The following virtual leadership abilities are crucial for all managers to effectively lead their teams in the modern digital age:

  • Communication;
  • Flexibility;
  • Empathy;
  • Strategic thinking;
  • Coaching and development;
  • Technical literacy;
  • Results orientation;
  • Delegation;
  • Conflict resolution.

All of these are required for effective virtual team management.

Such competencies enable team leaders to foster an atmosphere in which employees may flourish and prosper, resulting in efficient cooperation. That said, virtual leadership is more than a passing fad; it’s a critical skill set for every manager in the modern workplace.