In an increasingly globalised world, virtual working is on the increase in many organisations meaning a growing number of employees rely on technology to meet, collaborate and stay connected to deliver results.
We have previously talked about the importance of building trust in teams which can be particularly challenging when teams usually meet virtually. When Yale School of Management hosted their first Global Virtual Teams course the first of five takeaway lessons was to build a collective identity, which was based on creating a shared singular vision of their objectives.
The purpose of this article is to share how to create a shared vision when leading remotely; this will be followed by a sister article exploring how to then ‘hold’ the vision with a team.
Step 1: Identify A Common Purpose
In a team visioning workshop several years ago, a colleague asked a group of Stroke Rehabilitation Nurses this question: “What business are you really in?”. The answer came quickly, and almost everyone said the same thing in slightly different words; “To help patients recover from a stroke,” which as you read this you will no doubt be thinking this is the most logical answer.
During the conversation, the group explored how patients benefitted from working with rehab nurses with things such as learning to walk or talk again, through to performing a simple everyday task for themselves that you and I would take for granted.
This led to some realisations when the nurses were finally asked; what is the result of your work with stroke patients and what’s important about this?
The phrase that was most frequently used by members of this was;
“We give patients a second chance at life.“
It’s a powerful statement that I suspect will resonate with many reading this. The nurses quickly connected with this statement and it became their shared team vision.
This is a process that you can use with any virtual team to help gain consensus and agreement on what business you are really in, which gives the team a shared purpose and a reason for existing.
The questions to use are as follows;
- What business are you really in?
It helps to have your team describe their day to day tasks.
- What is the real value of what you do?
- What is the result that you offer?
- What’s important about the result?
While your team may not answer in the way the nurses did, use your virtual meeting time to agree on a phrase that everyone connects with.
Step 2 Identify Your Team Values
This is a conversation that you can have at a virtual team meeting. You can set your team a task ahead of time to think about what values and behaviours they believe are needed to support the team’s purpose.
Step 3 Create A Picture Of The Future
This is where the team takes their purpose and creates a picture of what it would look like if the team was fulfilling their purpose and doing it in a way that reflected the values they chose.
At this point, it’s about getting ideas from the team. Again you can ask the team to come to a conversation with ideas that you brainstorm and build on. The wordsmithing can happen later.
Step 4 Crafting Your Vision Statement
From experience, the easiest way to do this with a remote team is to invite a few people to volunteer to work together and create an initial draft that can be circulated and feedback encouraged.
Your vision statement needs to be long enough that it taps into the team’s purpose, gives a clear sense of its direction with a call to action.
Here are a few examples.
A computer on every desk – Steve Jobs
A computer on every desk in every home running Microsoft software – Bill Gates
One team, One Country – Nelson Mandela
In summary, creating a team vision starts with a conversation, asking questions and sharing ideas, all of which can be implemented virtually. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. View it as a team project and plan a deadline with specific short meetings to share ideas having asked people to prepare.
In the sister article, I will explore how remote leaders can hold a vision and keep it alive.
If you would like help developing your ‘virtual leadership skills’ then do get in touch. You can email us here.
Until next time