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  • Sarah Stone

With virtual teams the "new normal", should managers be cultivating a culture of self leadership?



Over the last 6 months I’ve listened to friends, family, colleagues and clients talk about how they’re either finding hard to keep motivated, or experiencing difficulty motivating their teams working from home.


Motivation is tricky, it’s the end result of many factors – both personal and cultural:

  • You can’t teach someone to be motivated

  • It’s aligned to core values and beliefs

  • Often it is influenced by circumstances external to the workplace

Now let’s throw into the mix the challenges associated with working remotely.  Juggling work and home commitments, whilst mustering the fortitude required to remain resilient in the current circumstances. So I started to ask myself:

“Should we be trying to motivate people or give them the tools to develop the skills, attitudes and behaviours to improve Self Leadership?”.

So what is Self Leadership? Self Leadership can be defined as: The practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feelings and actions towards your objective/s, focussing on 4 core qualities:


Not to suggest in a few short weeks you can develop people in all these areas, however applying a few tools and techniques there are short and long term gains you can achieve:


Ask people to develop an action plan and update daily


By asking people to put together an action plan, you’re helping them to develop their goal setting and planning abilities, whilst taking responsibility for their own tasks and projects. Updating it each day will give them the focus and discipline to achieve the goals they’ve set. It also (dare I say it!) helps with motivation and building resilience.


Rather than sending an email asking them to do the action plan, build this activity into your weekly team meetings or individual catch-ups. This gives you the opportunity whilst working remotely to help people connect and work together.


Promote a culture of collaboration and learning


A large proportion of our workforce has been thrust into a remote/virtual work environment with little time to adapt and adjust. Whilst I’m not suggesting it’s by any means an ideal situation, help your team to seize it as an opportunity to promote collaboration and learning. This works best if you incorporate learning it into “everyday”, the goal is for it to become part of your culture and be driven from the ground up. 


To get the ball rolling and drive engagement why not try:

  • If someone’s using a great new on-line tool or handled a client interaction really well, invite them to present at your next virtual team meeting.

  • When faced with an issue or problem, get the group involved and delegate actions to the team. When you regroup and ask individuals to provide the updates and training.

  • Create a collaboration group in Teams and start encouraging people to share links to TED Talks, webinars or internal on-line training content. Check out the video below to see how it's done.

  • Check out our Leading Project Teams course that can be customised to suit your specific challenges to give your managers the skills they need develop the leadership, organisational and people skills they need to engage and develop their team.



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