Virtual Leadership Development:
how to master the new normal
By Philip Botha, Bernhard Zimmermann
In the series we share our experience and expertise as coaches and facilitators, focusing on leadership and leadership development in virtual or online contexts. We explore not only the inherent challenges we face in these environments but importantly, how to address these challenges yourself. Whether you are a coach or facilitator, a leader looking for ideas or solutions or just a team member wanting to make a difference, we will offer our experience, thoughts, tips and suggestions of how to approach this, as we dive deeper into the specific key areas.
We continue in our 11th episode with part 2 of the elements we need to own in the process. Especially in a virtual context, where distractions are so tempting and easy for participants to drift off, providing a powerful hook and clear alignment with the purpose of the workshop or meeting has a direct positive impact on participants' motivation to engage with each other and the facilitator or leader and to stay engaged.
The final element also facilitates reflection and engagement. The ritual of Check In & Check Out is essential to lay the foundation for interaction and engagement.
In Episode 10 we dive deeper into part 1 of the elements of the virtual process we need to own - whether as a facilitator, or as the leader of a virtual interaction. One would consider the first element - preparation - as obvious. It is, however, it is still preparing as thoroughly as possible, as well as practising a virtual interaction, that makes it the key to success. Knowing the inevitable risk situations and playing them through is what makes it look easy in the end.
The other key element we cover in this episode to build success, is tbeing very observant of the participants and dynamics that unfold. Again, observing interactions and everything that happens sounds very logical, yet again, it is even more important than it would be in a face to face situation, while at the same time, much more difficult because of the challenges of the virtual process.
After spending a few episodes talking through the challenges we face, we are now moving from what these challenges are, to how to master them. We explore practices & solutions and tips & ideas of what we can do, to actually address them, based on our own experiences of having to deal with them.
In this episode, we want to give you a brief overview of the elements that help you own the virtual process. These we will cover in future episodes, so this episode will give you have a better understanding of what you can expect.
We talk about how to own the process and use Rules of engagement as a cornerstone for building trust in virtual interaction. In another element we cover how to manage yourself and explore how to consciously listen. Finally, we talk about how to manage technology, for it not to get in the way.
The last episode on the challenges covers technology failure or disruption. A key element in this challenge revolves around our own mind chatter about potential disruptions. This then distracts us from the actual workshop that we are supposed to participate in, or alternatively facilitate.
The frustration that builds with a disruption in technology can also sidetrack us, and limit our attention span, ultimately distracting us from finding constructive solutions.
In addition, strong perfectionism, a way to cover our own inner insecurity, absorbs the rest of our capacity to deal with disruptions constructively.
In this episode we explore how multitasking as a BEHAVIOUR distracts us from constructively participating when collaborating online and what influences that behaviour in ourselves. In an online workshop, we not only lose our connection to the learning process but also have a less than positive impact on others’ learning experience.
We also talk about our fear of technology and our anxiety to use it. Which is mostly triggered by our own lack of familiarity with a tool, as well as not understanding the processes in using the technology well enough. Finally, we explore the challenges we face when we lack enough practice, which in turn nurtures our fear of technology.
In episode 6 we cover firstly the challenge of excuses. Excuses can be found on the personal as well as on the relationship dimension, resulting from a mindset of blaming other things, people or technology.
Other challenges on the Relationship Dimension or Level are, Not Listening and Multitasking. When the mind becomes disengaged, we lose the ability to listen fully, limiting our ability to actively participate. Another form of disengagement is mental multitasking when being distracted. For a facilitator, this is one of the most difficult challenges for a facilitator to deal with.
In episode 5 we dive into the challenge, Lack of Intention - when collaborating in a virtual space. We focus on six elements that all interact and build on each other. These are: having a lack of purpose and clarity results in a perceived lack of choice. This in turn is very often driven or influenced by a lack of curiosity. As result, we experience a lack of engagement and subsequently a lack of commitment to be able to collaborate effectively.
In the 4th episode we dive deeper in the challenges that emanate from vulnerability and fear. Specifically, we talk about the mental barriers that are triggered through a lack of trust, the deep fears about ourselves and who we are, which very often trigger self-protection as a reaction. In addition, we cover self-limiting beliefs and the challenge we face of having to open ourselves up in an virtual environment in order to participate and benefit from the online interaction.
In this overview episode we look at the challenges of virtual leadership from three perspectives or levels: the personal, the relationship and task level. We also touch on a few challenges to prepare for the deeper dive we do in later episodes. For example, we briefly explore topics such as, vulnerability and fear, not listening & multi-tasking as well as fear of technology.
In the 2nd episode we start with what everyone now calls the New Normal, in which virtual leadership needs to function effectively. The rest of this episode provides an overview of the elements that contribute to making a virtual session more powerful.
In episode 1, we cover the scope of the whole series, focusing on three key areas. We start with the powerful impact the online or virtual world offers leaders, then an overview of the challenges we face in this environment and finally close with an overview of how to overcome these challenges.
An underlying structure of the whole series focusing on the three dimensions of effective work. The self, what happens in us with our motivations, intentions and mindsets, connecting it to the interpersonal or relationship level, and finally combining it with the tangible or task level.