Leading Effective Virtual Teams: Overcoming Time and Distance to Achieve Exceptional Results, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Leading Effective Virtual Teams

Overcoming Time and Distance to Achieve Exceptional Results, 1st Edition

By Nancy M. Settle-Murphy

Auerbach Publications

236 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781466557864
pub: 2012-12-13
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A proliferation of new technologies has lulled many into thinking that we actually have to think less about how we communicate. In fact, communicating and collaborating across time, distance, and cultures has never been more complex or difficult.

Written as a series of bulleted tips drawn from client experiences and best practices, Leading Effective Virtual Teams: Overcoming Time and Distance to Achieve Exceptional Results presents practical tips to help leaders engage and motivate their geographically dispersed project team members. If you’re a leader of any type of virtual team and want to help your team members collaborate more effectively, then buy this book. You will learn how to:

  • Build trust and cultivate relationships, virtually, across your team
  • Design and facilitate virtual meetings that are focused and engaging
  • Influence without authority
  • Motivate and galvanize a virtual team for top performance
  • Blend asynchronous and synchronous communications for better virtual collaboration
  • Navigate cross-cultural and generational differences in the absence of vital visual cues
  • Assess skills, strengths, aptitudes, and preferences from afar
  • Handle other tough issues that can trip up virtual teams

The ideas in this book are based on Nancy Settle-Murphy’sdecades of experience working as a change management consultant, facilitator, and trainer for project teams around the world. Designed to be read section by section in any order, this book shares approaches and techniques to help you address some of the toughest challenges virtual team leaders face, including keeping team members engaged from afar.


Organizations are only now beginning to realize that specialized skills and competencies are needed to lead effective virtual teams … . I particularly enjoyed the practical tips that can be applied to almost any kind of virtual team. Nancy knows what works and shares it with us in a way that is both easy to read and apply. She covers the gamut, from building trust to cross-cultural tripwires, in a way that will work for virtual teams, whatever their makeup.

—Dr. Penny Pullan,Director, Making Projects Work Ltd.

Table of Contents

Unique Challenges of Virtual Teams and Their Leaders

Unique Challenges of Virtual Teams

Unique Challenges of Virtual Team Leaders

Key Attributes of Successful Virtual Team Leaders

Leadership Skills

Communication Skills

Behaviors and Attitudes

Coaching Skills

Technology Skills

Profile of a Successful Virtual Collaborator


Sizing Up, Onboarding, and Mobilizing Your Virtual Team

Onboarding and Off-Ramping Team Members

Assessing Capabilities, Aptitudes, and Preferences of Team Members

Getting up to Speed in a Hurry

Assessing How Cultural Differences May Affect Team Dynamics

Influencing without Authority across Boundaries for Virtual Project Team Leaders


Building Trusting Relationships across Boundaries

Building the Foundations of Trust

Creating a Level Playing Field

Building Social Capital


Best Practices Operating Principles for Virtual Teams

What Is an Operating Principle?

Principles Development Process for a Virtual Team

Characteristics of Strong Principles

Getting to the "So What?" behind Each Principle: Hammering Out Implications

Areas for Which Norms Are Especially Vital for Virtual Project Teams

10 Top Norms to Untangle Virtual Teams


Communications for Collaboration and Cohesion

Creating a "Big Picture" Virtual Team Communications Plan

Virtual Team Communications: Steps to Success

E-mail for Virtual Teams: Using It Wisely and (Probably) Less Often

Connecting Virtual Teams through Imagery and Metaphor

Brainstorming across Borders: Stimulating Creative Thinking from Afar

Real-Time Conversations Crucial for Collaboration in a Virtual World


Managing Performance from Afar

The Challenges of Virtual Professional Development

Tips for Developing Performance from Afar

The Challenges of Performance Coaching from Afar

Tips for Performance Coaching for the Virtual Leader

You’d Be a Great Virtual Leader if You Could Just Be Quiet: Listening Tips for Virtual Leaders

Balance Innovation and Expediency for a Supercharged Team

Ensuring an Equitable Workload

Celebrating, Recognizing, and Rewarding Great Performance

Creating a Shared Sense of Community

Recognizing and Appreciating Noteworthy Performance

Planning and Running Virtual Celebrations


Navigating across Cultures, Time Zones, and the Generational Divide

Galvanize Global Virtual Teams with Clear Operating Principles

Real Cultural Assimilation Takes Patience, Time, and Willingness to Adapt

Surfacing and Addressing the Cultural Differences That Most Affect Virtual Teams

Communicating across Cultures: Designing for International Transportability

Listening and Learning across the Generations: Strategic Communications Planning for Better Collaboration

Open Communication and Mutual Respect: Keys to Intergenerational Harmony


Troubleshooting Tips for Virtual Teams

Six Management Practices That Don’t Cut It in a Virtual World

Avoiding the Unintended Consequences of Micromanagement

Recognizing and Addressing Signs of Dysfunction to Avoid Irrecoverable Problems Later

When Your Team Is about to Implode: Watch for Signs, Act Fast

How to Disengage Your Virtual Team in 10 Easy Steps


Special Challenges of Facilitating Virtual Meetings

What Makes Virtual Meetings So Challenging?

Six Critical Factors for Running Productive Virtual Meetings


ABC s of Designing Great Virtual Meetings

Creating a Realistic Agenda for a Productive Virtual Meeting

Selecting the Right Participants

"Rightsizing" Your Virtual Meeting Depending on Objectives and Group Size

Selecting the Right Combination of Technology Tools for the Highest Level of Engagement

Making Pre-work Work

Importance of Thorough Preparation for Virtual Meeting Leaders

Creating a Realistic Virtual Meeting Agenda

Tips for Designing a Successful Hybrid Meeting

Setting and Enforcing Virtual Meeting Ground Rules

Guidelines for Great Global Team Meetings


Keeping Remote Participants Engaged

Understanding How and Why People Become Disengaged

Discourage Multitasking with Clear Ground Rules and Focused Meetings

Rx for Problem Participants Who Threaten to Derail Your Virtual Meetings


Troubleshooting Virtual Meetings

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Reconciling Time Zone Differences

Dealing with Uninvited Guests

Handling People Who Show up Unprepared

Keeping Remote Participants Feeling Connected




About the Author

A renowned expert in the fields of remote collaboration, global teams, and managing wide-scale organizational change, Nancy Settle-Murphy is a popular author of articles, white papers, e-zines, and booklets. Her articles have appeared in publications such as The Meeting Professional, Mass High Tech, IT Executive Journal, PM Network, Association Management Magazine, and Intercom.

Drawing from more than two decades of experience in facilitating the work of global teams, Nancy leads highly productive working sessions designed to efficiently and effectively tap the best thinking of key contributors working across time zones, locations, and cultures. Among her recent clients are Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Shell Oil, Greenpeace International, Medco Health Systems, Partners Healthcare, Unilever, and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency. Nancy is an active member of the International Association of Facilitators, the Virtual Facilitators Linked-In Roundtable, Boston Facilitator’s Roundtable, and American Society for Training and Development.

A presenter, trainer, and coach, Nancy parlays her expertise to help answer questions such as:

• Under what conditions must we really meet face to face to get work done?

• How can we make remote meetings productive amidst chronic multitasking?

• How do we engage and motivate virtual team members in times of change?

• Can remote teams really cultivate trust when social relationships are not possible?

• What communications methods work best for cross-cultural virtual teams?

• How can we navigate our way around cross-cultural differences?

• What skills are essential for leading virtual teams?

Some of Nancy’s most popular speaking topics include: Facilitating Cross-Cultural Teams, Building Trust Across Borders, Leading Virtual Teams, Planning and Leading Engaging Virtual Meetings, and Jumpstarting a Successful Global Project Team. Nancy is available as a speaker, presenter, writer, and as a source of illuminating content for articles related to virtual teams, global teams, remote collaboration, and managing enterprise-wide change.

Nancy is president and founder of Guided Insights (www.guidedinsights.com), a facilitation, training, and communications consulting firm based Boxborough, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Project Management
COMPUTERS / Information Technology