What strong virtual leadership looks like
In response to the current COVID-19 crisis, many companies across the UK have adopted remote working policies, transforming into virtual workplaces.
According to a study by consultancy firm Hogan Assessments strong virtual leadership is vital for the success of the business and the happiness of its people.
The top five personality traits virtual leaders need are:
1) Adjustment. Leaders scoring highly on adjustment will remain calm and level-headed during stressful periods. The adjustment scale measures an individual's stress-tolerance, optimism and composure in the face of change. These leaders will motivate their team to keep working, reduce panic and adapt to the new changes around them.
2) Interpersonal sensitivity. Interpersonal sensitivity measures tact, communication style and relationship-maintenance skill. Leaders scoring highly here are diplomatic, warm and friendly, and tend to avoid conflict with employees.
3) Ambition. Leaders scoring highly on ambition are well-equipped to sustain a productive team during a crisis. Ambition measures an individual’s competitive drive, perceived energy and goal-orientation. These leaders are highly self-confident, exuding high energy and drive to employees.
4) Inquisitive. Leaders scoring highly on this scale are imaginative, interested in new technology and curious about new and inventive ways to solve problems. An inquisitive leader’s creative thinking, although not without its faults, will be a major asset to a remote team as new methods of communicating and working become necessary, and work migrates online and to the cloud.
5) Altruistic. Altruism measures an individual’s desire to help others and contribute to society. Leaders scoring highly here will make their team’s well-being a priority, supporting those in need and acting as a unifying force for employees during adverse times. As not every employee is in the same boat, being mindful of each employee’s personality, health and personal circumstances is crucial during remote work, and will guide decisions on how best to manage these workers remotely.
Discussing the number one quality leaders need, adjustment, Dr Ryne Sherman, chief science officer at Hogan Assessments, explains: “Although adjustment is an essential characteristic of effective remote leaders, we find that all five of these traits are associated with remote leadership performance. In fact, I would never advise a company to make personnel decisions on the basis of a single score on a single personality trait. It is the combination of personality traits that make up a whole person and ultimately predict a leader’s effectiveness.”
Sherman concludes: “Whilst highly adjusted leaders are often flexible, I would not say it is the same thing as flexibility. Highly adjusted leaders are also resilient to stress, remain calm under pressure, and are emotionally composed. Further, highly adjusted leaders may, or may not, be rigid about how business is conducted, a behaviour more associated with inquisitiveness.”
Hogan’s science-based assessments, such as the Hogan Personality Inventory, are backed up by over 30 years of validated research, and have identified five personality traits associated with effective virtual leadership.
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