How to Manage a Virtual Assistant | Leadership Style for Virtual Teams

How to manage a Virtual Assistant

The business and entrepreneurship game changes all the time. As technology shifts our priorities, business owners need to keep learning new skills. Today, we’re in an age where leadership matters, but in a different form. We’re now leading virtual teams. And while many of the principles remain the same, some of the practices and expressions have drastically changed. 

One study by Microsoft shows that 66% of companies are now preparing for hybrid work arrangements— meaning people will now have the option to work virtually or face-to-face. Up to 70% of employees say that they would like to continue with virtual and flexible work arrangements. So with that in mind, leaders need to figure out now how to run virtual teams.

After years of being a Virtual Assistant agency, we at Outsourcing Angel have picked up key skills in virtual team management and leadership. We’ve come to notice different leadership styles across our clients and how they manage their Virtual Assistants, and how they leverage those styles into strengths. 

In this comprehensive guide, we would like to walk you through the important principles and practices that help business owners, executives, and managers in leading a virtual team and Virtual Assistants effectively.

3 Key Leadership Principles by Richard Phu

Richard is Outsourcing Angel’s Operations Manager. He is our in-house whiz at running a virtual company or business. In the video above, Richard shares some important leadership principles that we have applied in our Virtual Assistant company and helped us create a thriving business with happy employees. So, we’d like to share with you some insights and snippets from those key lessons on how to work with a Virtual Assistant and lead them effectively.

Focus on Making their Lives Easier

Making their Lives EasierIt’s not normal for managers to think about making their staff members’ lives easier. Often, the mindset is that employees should make their lives easier. After all, we do hire them to simplify our lives right? Well, that’s true on so many levels, but what goes around comes around as the adage goes. When learning how to manage a Virtual Assistant, we need to think about how we can add value to them.

Good virtual team leadership is just as much about making your team’s lives easier as it is them making our lives easier. It’s a cycle of value exchange and service. When leaders serve their team, it’s natural for teams to serve their managers too. Another strong benefit of this key leadership principle is that it leads to lesser turnover. Employee turnover is one of the leading HR costs today. A technical estimate shows that replacing staff will cost a company up to 1.5 or 2 times that employee’s salary. So when you hire a Virtual Assistant, find ways to make working in your company a great experience. Here are a few practical ways to do that:

  • Give them the chance to use their natural strengths and abilities at work. 
  • Reward them for great performance with incentives and bonuses. 
  • Seek to give good feedback when they do things right. 
  • Express gratitude for them being a part of the team. 
  • Show them how they are contributing to the company’s growth. 
  • Greet them on their birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations. When you can, give them some time off to spend with family and friends. 
  • Overall, just be a nice boss!

Give More Than You’re Asking Them

The second key principle that Richard gives to business owners and Virtual Assistant managers when leading virtual teams is to always give more than you ask. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to bleed ourselves dry for our team members. Richard refers to this great principle from one of the most influential entrepreneurs of our time: 

“The goal is to give everyone at least 51% of the value in their relationship.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

Yep! THE Gary Vee said that. What it means is that you have to give your staff an “unfair advantage” by always seeking ways to give them value. That means that if staff praise you, you should praise them more! If your Virtual Assistant works hard for you, you should work hard for them plus a little extra too!

One practical way to do this is to ask them four questions that will help you determine what you can do as a leader to serve your virtual team. Here are those four questions.

  • Tell me one thing that you’re excited about?
  • Tell me one thing you’re really worried about?
  • What can I do to make your life easier?
  • What’s one thing you want to focus on to be better at your job?

Asking your Virtual Assistants those questions will give you a great gauge as to how you can outgive your team. 

Create Resourcefulness

Create ResourcefulnessThe next tip that Richard, our Operations Expert, shares is creating a sense of resourcefulness in your team or Virtual Assistant. This step entails allowing them to step out and become independent problem-solvers. Too often, the case in businesses is that employees run to managers and leaders when they run into problems. While it’s natural for team members to seek guidance every now and then, the issue is a dependence on the leader every single time they run into a small hiccup. This kind of setup can become quite overwhelming for managers, especially when they’re running multiple teams or personnel at once.

What we recommend at Outsourcing Angel is creating a culture of “No naked questions.” What this policy does is require teams to come to a problem with a set of ready solutions for them to choose from. What this kind of policy does is enable virtual employees to think for themselves and come up with solutions completely on their own. By doing so a virtual manager trains Virtual Assistants to grow and improve their skills and abilities in the process too— something that they will value more than the occasional monetary bonus.

Creating resourcefulness also entails explaining why a leader makes certain decisions or calls so that your Virtual Assistant starts to think like you do and operate your business as you do even when you aren’t around.

So those are the three key leadership principles that we apply in Outsourcing Angel and bring tremendous growth in the process. Now, maybe some of you who are reading this have not yet employed Virtual Assistants because you don’t know how to lead. With these key principles will help get you started, what are you waiting for?! It’s time to build your own virtual team. If you need our help to build that team and get you started on your virtual team leadership journey, we’d love to do that for you. Just reach out to us for a discovery call and we’ll begin that process for you.

Types of Leadership Styles

The next thing you have to learn about virtual team leadership is the leadership styles that most virtual managers, business owners, or executives have and how you can implement them into your team management model.

We have compiled some of the best leadership styles for virtual teams that we’ve seen in companies that we’ve helped out. Hopefully, you find the one that resonates with you the most and that you’ll learn how to harness them to grow your Virtual Assistant and your business! So let’s go through them together.

Authoritative Leadership

The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly. —Jim Rohn

Authoritative LeadershipSomeone with an authoritative leadership style knows how to dominate the competition and perform at the highest level. He or she is driven by results and getting things done. There’s a strong ability to achieve results and a very high level of courage and confidence. Someone with this style of leadership doesn’t have problems learning how to delegate to a Virtual Assistant as he or she is someone with a strong sense of demand.

Strong Points

  • Can take control of the room when needed.
  • Can give strong and clear instructions to people. 
  • Will not easily back down against a challenge.

Areas to Work On

  • Has the tendency to dominate a conversation which could discourage others from speaking their mind.
  • Needs to learn how to relinquish control to others. 

Influential Leadership

A leader is a dealer in hope. —Napoleon Bonaparte

Someone with an influential style will focus on winning people over. They’re naturally magnetic and love to be around people. They’re excellent at socialising and tend to be the center of the party.

Strong Points

  • Very relational and can win people’s trust and affection.
  • Bring a sense of life and fun to the company.
  • Has a great ability to make new members of a team feel welcome.

Areas to Work On

  • Can sometimes lose sight of urgency and procrastinate results. 
  • Has difficulty confronting people and having hard conversations.

Transformational Leadership

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. —Harry S. Truman

Someone with a gift of transformational leadership has the ability to light up the room with a mission or goal. They are great galvanisers and know how to get people excited about a project, task, campaign, or idea. Someone with a transformational leadership style can vision cast a direction and get everyone on board. Unlike someone with influential leadership, he or she usually draws people towards a direction instead of a person.

Strong Points

  • Great resource person to have when you want to make any organisational changes. 
  • Rallies people towards one direction, giving the team a sense of unity.
  • Can clearly communicate the “why,” not just the what.

Areas to Work On

  • Can sometimes be a little biased with a direction that he or she wants to take. Try to open your mind to other values and ideas too. 
  • Rallies people, but doesn’t necessarily get the ball rolling. Needs to work with someone with an authoritative or empowering style to get started.

Situational Leadership

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

Situational LeadershipWhen you outsource to a Virtual Assistant, you’ll quickly realise that there are many things outside your control. Things can change very quickly: your market, your business model, technology and so forth. In times like this, you need someone with situational leadership. Someone with this style of leadership works best in high-stress situations, like uncertainty, volatility, and change. They know how to pivot as needed and find evolving solutions. 

Strong Points

  • Steady and reliable during times of chaos and change. 
  • Innovatively thinks of ways to maneuver through tough times. 
  • Can help create a strategic path for people to follow in volatility.

Areas to Work On

  • Adaptability can sometimes result in over-flexibility, which could be hard when the company needs structure. 
  • Tends to leave people behind when they’re not careful.

Empowering Leadership

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. —Sam Walton

One of the most favorite parts of a virtual team leader with empowering leadership is providing Virtual Assistant training. That’s because they love to teach or facilitate learning. These people love knowledge and are highly skilled at creating ways for people to apply what they learn. They’re educators who always have a teaching or coaching point in every circumstance. Accordingly, team members are always ready to learn from them.

Strong Points

  • Can turn complex ideas into simple ones and help people learn. 
  • Makes people around them better by allowing them room to grow and improve. 
  • Loves to consume knowledge and share them. 

Areas to Work On

  • Can sound too “preachy” at times. Remember that not all moments have to be teaching moments. 
  • Shouldn’t only rely on principles but should also find real-life scenarios to make teachings relevant.

Participative Leadership

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree

Someone with a participative leadership style can use his or her virtual team leadership skills to show people the way. They love to serve and have no problems getting their hands dirty. They are the epitome of what it means to allow their staff to work with them and not just for them. People with participative leadership are sacrificial in their approach to leadership. 

Strong Points

  • Easy for people to trust because they know that he or she practices what he or she preaches. 
  • Altruistic in his or her approach to leadership, making him or her a great servant leader. 
  • Loves to bring value to the team. 

Areas to Work On

  • Easily taken advantage of by abusive staff. Learn how to set boundaries and limits to your service. 
  • Can sometimes lose track of high-level tasks to keep doing the low-level ones.

So which of these leadership styles do you think resonates with you the most? If you feel that you have two or three of them, that could be possible too!

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Importance of Good Leadership with Virtual Teams

83% of businesses admit that leadership development is important at all levels of an organisation. So, when all is said and done, what is virtual team management and why is it important to focus on great leadership? Because it brings growth and results to the team. Everyone wins when great leadership gets exemplified. There are three lasting benefits to learning how to lead a virtual team through these changing times. 

Your company will grow

We’ve seen this time and time again in our outsourcing agency and in the companies of our clients who exemplify great leadership. It brings company growth, whatever that might look like for your context, whether it’s influence, revenue, impact, and so on. 

Your people will grow

By focusing on great leadership, you also get the chance to share your growth and learnings with the Virtual Assistants that work for you. You can even develop Virtual Assistant leadership skills and turn your employees into managers and leaders themselves at some point.

You will grow

Focusing on virtual team leadership will also result in growth in the leader. After all, when you develop your leadership skills, you develop yourself as a leader too. And as you do that, you get to enjoy the fulfillment of knowing that you’re a better version of who you were yesterday.

Learning how to effectively manage Virtual Assistants is more than just giving instructions and hoping they meet the deadline. It’s an opportunity for growth at all levels. The question for you is this— do you want that growth for you, your team, and your company? If you do, it’s time to up your leadership game.

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