Virtual leadership — A sudden imperative

On March 11, 2020 the WHO (World Health Organisation) announced a global pandemic due to the spread of COVID-19 (CoronaVirus). Since then countries, governments and businesses all over the world are trying to transition to more remote and virtual ways of working. The role of leadership has never been so important to ensure our people, suppliers and end users are supported, safe, informed and guided.

Virtual leadership is a key part of leading in a digital age. Something we have been dedicated to for 7 years, working with leaders all over the world, from governments and large enterprises to non-profits and start-ups.

We’ve put together a virtual leadership playbook which you an access here:

Here is an extract from the playbook outlining some guidelines for boards and executive teams to add to their crisis management and sustainability plans.


In direct response to our customers needs, together with a group of experts from around the world, we have create a Virtual Leadership Playbook and are soon to release a Virtual Leadership Co-Lab where leaders can network, share, learn, experiment and gain access to coaches, mentors and advice.

Here is a top 10 summary check list and guide for Executive Leadership/Board Members:

  • Governance — How does the way you operate as a business change with remote workers and virtual working? Check your legacy policies, processes, rules and regulations and be prepared to flex them. Put in place key guidelines and procedures that include the following: communication, remote data security and safety, digital learning, team support and empathy. It’s important to review what can flex as well as what new guidance might be needed to support remote working that’s safe but open, secure but agile, measurable but allows for autonomy.
  • Technology — Review your technology roadmap. Can you bring things forward or shift priorities? What cloud and platform technologies can support remote working and maintain minimum security requirements? Do you have any pilots that could be expanded? Ensure that you have all the right software licences and support for large-scale working from home. Your ICT department may have only put in place the necessary infrastructure to cater for occasional working from home.
  • Leadership — Decentralised leadership is even more important in remote working. Do your teams really understand, recognise and appreciate each-others’ strengths and contribution to the whole team? Individually it’s important for people to recognise their own strengths, share them and be responsible for others knowing what they are. The wellbeing of each member of the workforce is more important than ever. Create ways to encourage buddying up, informal conversations and greater access to leaders and/or central functions in more human and digital ways.
  • Location, Location, Location — Where people are remote working, do they work close enough to buddy up? How do you encourage people to be open and honest about where they work and how data-mindful they are to avoid unorthodox ‘workarounds’ putting organisational and personal data in jeopardy? Trust and honesty is absolutely key.
  • Learning and development — Learning and development is still as important to remote teams as ever. The L&D function should be supported to make learning and development content accessible digitally and quickly. Not everyone is comfortable using digital technology or sharing data that might only usually sit with them. As a leader of teams, it’s really important to ensure you have an understanding of everyone’s digital literacy and data literacy.
  • Increased empathy — As leaders working remotely empathy is incredibly important. When we are not physically in the room with someone or when we are unable to see their face or hear their voice, we can so easily loose the truth of the emotion behind their words and actions. Ensuring we are asking and focusing on qualitative data as well as the quantitative side of work and leadership is very important.
  • Simplify — One of the most powerful things to come out of remote working and virtual leadership is the opportunity to simplify. We often do not realise how much legacy we are carrying around with us: beliefs, processes, management decisions, you name it! Take the time to think about areas where simplification can not only ease a transition towards remote working but increase business effectiveness in general.
  • Be clear about formal versus informal — Engage with platforms that allow for both informal human conversation and more formal work conversation. One of our customers uses a simple WhatsApp group for informal conversations and fun stuff.
  • Distance equals time — As a virtual leader, it’s far more valuable and effective to communicate what is likely to happen than to communicate what has happened.
  • Project management — Maintaining business as usual is vital. As well as focusing on prioritising projects and programmes, think about any projects that could actually support you.


The Virtual Leadership Playbook is free and can be downloaded here.

It is a guide for leaders to understand what they should do, how they can support their teams and workers and help the transition toward remote working as seamless as possible.

The playbook is a living document and we will endeavour to update the playbook over time. Our request for your information is to ensure that we can keep you up to date with version releases as well as give you access to free resources as we make them available.




Mel Ross is CEO of Adapt2Digital and Chief Architect of The Dilyn Way best practice profile and approach to leading in a digital age.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Have we been promoting the ‘wrong’ people into leadership roles for 30 years?

The Elements of Influence

People Matter Most

Leadership = Service

The Serious Need for Play

The art of positive role modelling

Lift Your Legacy: How to turn around from even the greatest setbacks and leverage them to become…

‘Who gives a voice to the voiceless? — A brief psychological and poetic reflection…’

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Mel Ross

Mel Ross

Mel Ross is CEO of Adapt2Digital and Chief Architect of The Dilyn Way best practice profile and approach to leading in a digital age.

More from Medium

SCP Staff Urinate on Userbase’s Leg, Claims It’s Raining

Zoom, our tool for validating usability.

Slowdown in IPO Space Transmits Negative Signal for Law Firms’ Transactional Practices, But Light…

Council Meeting Memo #030