Taking the digital and analog lead
What really counts when it comes to rallying a remote team around common goals and building sustainable relationships? How should a message be delivered – whether in the analog or the virtual realm – in order to reach the recipient effectively and be understood? And what does it really mean to be a “leader” – regardless of whether you are trying to keep a clear head among the glass walls and carpets of the executive suite or chairing the board meeting from your dining room table at home?
Everything is possible. If possible.
With the first wave in the spring of 2020, Covid-19 not only gave us lots of time with ourselves and our loved ones, vacations back in our home countries, and mouth-and-nose coverings. Pandemic preparedness also provided us with a boot camp in virtual leadership. And just when we were starting to venture out again, step by step, holding our first meetings in near normality again, the virus struck again. “The second wave” - relentless. It seems that Corona will indeed change our world permanently. Had it already given up, we would all have hurried to return to pre-March 13, 2020 normalcy. But it looks like that's not to be, and we have a winter ahead of us, both personally and professionally, that could finally shift us into a new mindset that might make the future look different from 2021 onward:
Maybe a time will come after Corona – or it will be sufficiently under control – where we can meet up again unhindered – and yet it will be quite clear which meetings will take place virtually and which in person and what the appropriate setting will look like. Hybrid forms will be on the agenda that integrate everyone – wherever they are – in an uncomplicated way. We will be expected to manage this confidently, in a way that is understandable to all, with no technical problems or delays, and above all to make our position clear in these settings. Distance, remoteness, other countries, other cities could take on a different meaning: We will be closer together – no matter where we are. And perhaps people will no longer travel just to have a meeting in person without a good reason. Perhaps business flights will be “out”, even “uncool”. (Remember the cool cigarette commercials with cowboys on horseback and the scenes with a cigarette-smoking Alain Delon...?).
But meeting in person will also mean more. The lunch date crammed into a packed daily schedule will maybe become more of a taboo. Meeting will take on a new significance. We're learning this right now, because for almost a year now we've been a lot more selective in terms of our social contacts. That makes sense, because before, there were many meetings that did not lead to deeper encounters or relevant results. We drove right across Europe only to peek at our iPads or send a quick WhatsApp during an important meeting. People got together with friends, only to have to talk to the project manager on the phone for an hour on the terrace...
We were everywhere and seldom really there.
We are being brought to our knees right now. And wearing a mask no less. Who would have thought that would be possible? We should accept it gratefully, because we need to retreat, to reconnect with our inner selves, and then, when we come together, we should turn the meeting into a shared experience, a moment of true encounter. Corona teaches us that just spending time together in the same room without ventilation can cause us to become infected. It also teaches us that the air that we breathe connects us. That was always the case. But somehow, we were never really aware of it.
We are currently experiencing the fact that an analog setting is much more than just sharing a desk and a coffee break. It is a shared space where people can connect, feel close and get to know each other better, perceive each other's physical presence and learn to understand each other, commit to a big idea together. And then go on to collaborate and communicate equally well in a virtual setting.
Whether I work virtually or in person makes a big difference. Even just the question of which senses are involved and what that does to my body. In both settings, great opportunities can be found to lead, to collaborate, to communicate, to be successful. Each setting has its own set of rules. Each has its advantages and stumbling blocks. In both we can be perfectly effective and in both it is possible to fail miserably.
Whichever one I choose – whatever option I have at the given moment – I should know myself and my audience, I should be aware of my strengths and weaknesses and I should master the chosen setting in order to be able to use it as a stage, as a dance floor. Telco, video conference, webinar, meeting, outdoor workshop: the choice should be dictated by the topic, the result to be achieved, the circumstances in the team and not simply by my preferences and by where I feel (in)secure. It should make no difference to me whether I hold an analog or a virtual meeting. Whether I connect via telephone, email or face-to-face: It should be all the same to me in the sense of it all being equally valuable – only then will I be free to decide on the best form for the task at hand. And be effective. For the sake of my cause, my vision, my mission. That is hybrid leadership. .
Make use of the time. Take advantage of the opportunities. We will be happy to support, advise and train you so that you can compile your own personal toolbox of hybrid leadership methods
Communicate and lead across channels: