At first glance, you may think leadership is not necessary for working with outside contractors. After all, a virtual assistant may have their own business or work for an agency. Since they are not your employee, how much do you have to actually lead them?
Are you a manager or a leader?
This leads to the age-old question of leadership versus management. I would argue that management is more tactical; it is the ways in which a person works with you, how they communicate with you, submit requests, receive feedback, etc. Management is the “what.” By this definition, working with an outside contractor requires less management than working with an employee. Indeed, because Freedom Makers is an agency, we handle the management aspects, including selection, screening, and payments.
A good manager relies on systems. A good leader focuses on their people who, in turn, rely on systems.
Thus, even if your team is comprised of all outside contractors, leadership is essential. Below are some tips for being a leader to a virtual assistant.
- Communicate regularly, openly, and clearly
- Let go and get out of their way
- Recognize they are not at your beck and call
- Notice there are 5 Levels of Delegation. Choose the right one for the task and your personal preference
- Know your goals for working with a VA
- Just because they are taking care of it does not mean you can ignore it
- Your team will follow what you do, not what you say
- Let them know if a slow down or build up will be happening
- Share feedback early and often, no matter how small
- Be open to receiving feedback and then take action
Leadership takes practice
No one is born a leader. It takes practice to not only gain experience, but to also figure out your leadership style. The only way to do that is to lead and learn from other leaders!