5 Ways Leaders Can Build Trust In Virtual Teams - FocusU

5 Ways Leaders Can Build Trust In Virtual Teams

As Patrice Lencioni mentions in his book 5 dysfunctional of the team, the absence of trust is one of the biggest drawbacks experienced by a team. This becomes even more relevant and important in the virtual context, with everyone working remotely with limited interactions. The lack of face to face conversations increases the risk of miscommunication and reduced inter-personal trust. Thus, it is important for a leader to help build trust among his team members. 

Presenting 5 leadership hacks to help build trust –

A Common Vision

Easily said than done? Well yes,  goal of the company may vary from the goal of an individual but, it is the leader’s responsibility to lead the team towards an unified vision. This can be done using clear mission statements and a focus on a specific purpose. Furthermore, chalking out goals for various functions of the company, in accordance with the same is equally important.

An excellent way to do this is to draw inspiration from the recent trend of virtual learning. The feasibility of virtual classrooms has been a common discussion throughout global forums. In many cases, professors and students alike struggle to get on the same page. The entire layout is just too different from what the students and teachers are used to. 

At the same time, we’ve seen multiple viral videos wherein the professors use innovative techniques to capture their students’ attention. They manage to make them listen to, and soak in what they’re saying. Now, you may think that the role of a professor and leader is quite different, and technically you’d be right. However, during the global pandemic, these professors acquired leaders’ roles by adapting to unforeseen changes. The unprecedented nature of which inspired them to concentrate on the shared vision of learning. 

Empower Each Role

Gung Ho!’ – A book by Ken Blanchard, talks about the functionality of various teams. He mentions, what’s been called the “Spirit Of The Squirrel.”  It refers to a mindset that pushes individuals to work hard while keeping the bigger picture in mind. This is similar to the way squirrels work hard through the long summer days to collect and store food for the upcoming winter. 

This mindset can push team members to work religiously at their respective roles, thus allowing for a collective diligence and overall productivity. As Aristotle articulates,

‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,’ so when the whole team is encouraged by the leader, they would prove to be more efficient. This may sound daunting, but efficient leaders have time and again proved their mettle.

Individual Accountability

The book also talks about “the way of the beaver.” Beavers gather different pieces of wood to build a protective dam against predators like coyotes. They are prolific builders and form an essential part of the ecosystem. They further work actively to repair it in case of any intrusion. There is no designated leader in the group but rather each one of them decide for themselves as to what they need to do and get on with it. Similarly, it is important to allow for creative freedom and allow for individual accountability, rather than micromanaging the various functions.

Each team can be made autonomous and strengthened by providing a set framework of key goals and values. Let the respective teams figure out how to go about it. This can also be made possible by creating a culture that promotes learning and psychological safety, one of the most important elements of building an high performance team. However, at the same time, it is important to be clear about the various roles and responsibilities. 

Celebrate Every Accomplishment

The third principle in the book is named as “the gift of the goose.”

Often, when a flock of geese is flying to the south during the winter, they can be observed to be honking at each other. This honking continues throughout the entire process, and even after landing.

It is said that this is their way of cheering each other. Leaders can do the same by complimenting and celebrating the achievements of their team. This may not sound like much, but it has been proven to make a huge difference. Not only does this habit encourage everyone to do their best, but also allows for healthy competition among team members.

Challenge Constantly

Even the sweetest dishes can cause harm, if overdone. Thus, a balance is required. It is necessary for the leader to constantly challenge the team members. It is also vital that a leader is aware of the team’s strength and weaknesses. Tough love is the key to enabling sustainable growth while building trust.

The Centre for Creative Leadership’s module on team success focuses on the importance of not allowing your team to get complacent with their performance. Timely appreciation of thier hard work and efforts is extremely important. But, it is essential to do this in a way to not let your words get to their heads.

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While this may sound tricky, all one needs to do is think of what you want to hear from your boss, and say it in a subtle manner to your team members..


Change is never easy, but with the right leadership it can be made simple and enabled efficiently. I have been blessed with a chance to work under some really amazing leaders. And, I hope this blog helps you in leading your team more effectively.

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