4 Leadership Mistakes to Fail at Virtual Teamwork

These are some interesting statistics: 66% of employees in Western Europe are not actively engaged in their work and only 41% US workers know what their company stands for and how their company’s brand is different to competitors.

While employees think their performance would improve with more feedback and communication, it appears managers don’t know the magic word that boosts performance and teamwork.

The communication between managers and teams is undoubtedly more complex, and with virtual teams, which are still relatively new in terms of management, the complexity of this relationship can put businesses in greater risk of failure.

Modern businesses are showing a large rise in the number of remote employees, however, plenty of traditional leadership tactics don’t apply on remote workforce, but rather result in poor performance, decrease in productivity and lack of motivation.

Management and leadership are evolving with the development of internet technologies, office culture and global market, thus leadership skills must evolve. Leaders and managers of tomorrow face numerous challenges to create effective, harmonious and productive teamwork with growing number of employees seeking different qualities and skills in their leaders.


In today’s ever-changing economy landscape, managers need to be open to learning new leadership skills and different rules and principles of remote teamwork.

What are the most common mistakes of leaders who manage virtual teams?


Leaders will fail to motivate the team if the members of the team were chosen solely on their functional skills.

For an experienced manager who leads the team in the traditional workplace it is easier to explore and establish the right channels of communication with team members.

Given communication is crucial for productive teamwork, managers who lead virtual teams need to understand the importance of virtual employees’ social skills. Communication in virtual teams is less frequent and less rich in face-to-face interaction, thus a good virtual employee need to possess other characteristics to be able to perform successfully.

Open, honest and effective communication within virtual teams is vital and very often depend on precisely those social skills of the team members. Having team members who understand the importance of communication will help managers create good working atmosphere and set clear rules and norms of communication within the team.


The first mistake will lead to the second: micro managing your team members as if they are in the office.

No one wants to be micro managed, and no one wants to be led by someone who is never satisfied, always frustrated, often passive in the approach, and over-controlling. No manager would want to become a micromanager.

If communication is failing in creating a coherent team, the first result will be lack of trust and commitment within the team and between a leader and team members. Instead of telling team members what to do, a manger should be focused on coaching the team, delegating responsibilities and control, and teaching them about the best way to approach their tasks.


Lack of good communication and micromanaging can result in poor managing performance when it comes to clarifying tasks and instructions. 

All managers need to set clear goals, roles and responsibilities within the team, and with virtual teams, team’s coordination is a challenge. The leader of virtual teams need to make sure that team members understand what needs to be done, when and why, thus clarifying the tasks and work process is mandatory, however, with poor communication and micromanaging attitude, manager can only see poor performance and results having the team working toward separate goals and objectives.

Good time management skills are essential for a virtual team leader to have the team focused and committed.  


If the manager isn’t able to select the team properly, fails in communication, acts as micromanager and doesn’t set clear goals and tasks, the team will have no benefits of collaborative technologies.

Leveraging the best collaborative technology is crucial for virtual teams. However, it doesn’t mean going for the newest or most featured, but rather a collaborative softer that meets the needs of the team.

For a manager who doesn’t know and understand how the team operates and performs the best, no collaborative technology will make up for poor performance but rather contribute to undermining effectiveness of the team. 

Virtual team management has its challenges, and managers and leaders of tomorrow who wish to succeed should embrace the challenge.   


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