Hybrid Leadership

By Katja Goebel

Virtual and analog leadership

What really matters when it comes to rallying a remote team around common goals and building sustainable relationships? How should a message be delivered - whether in analog or virtual space - in order to reach the recipient effectively and generate understanding? And what does it really mean to be a "leader" - regardless of whether you can maintain an overview on the glass carpeted floor of the company building or chair the management meeting from the dining table at home?  

Everything is possible. If you can.  

Cov-19 gave us with the first wave in spring 2020 not only a lot of time with ourselves and our loved ones, vacations at home and the mouth-nose protection. Pandemic preparedness also brought us a boot camp in virtual leadership. And just when we were venturing out of the woodwork step by step again, holding our first sessions in the almost normal again, the virus struck again. "The second wave" - relentless. Corona will probably really change our world permanently. Had it already given up, we would all have too quickly returned to pre-March 13, 2020 normalcy. But that is probably not to be, and we have a winter ahead of us, both personally and professionally, that could finally put us in a new mindset that would make a future from 2021 look different:  

There will perhaps be a time after or with a controllable - Corona in which one can meet unhindered and it will still be quite clear which meetings are virtual and which are in presence - and what the coherent setting looks like for this. Hybrid forms will be on the agenda in an uncomplicated way that integrates everyone - wherever they are. Then we will be required to manage this confidently, in a way that is understandable to all, without technical problems or delays, and above all to make our position clear in these settings. Distance, remoteness, the foreign country, the other city could take on a different meaning: One will be closer - no matter where one is. And perhaps people will no longer travel just for meetings in close proximity without a good reason. It could even be that business flights are rather out, even uncool. (Remember the cool cigarette commercials with cowboys on horseback and the scenes with Alain Delon and glow sticks...).  

But it will also mean a lot when you meet in person. The lunch date crammed into an overcrowded daily schedule will perhaps be rather taboo. Meeting will take on a new value. We're learning this as we approach a year now of being a lot more selective with our social contacts. This makes sense, because recently there have been a lot of encounters without deeper encounters and without relevant results. We drove across Europe only to peek at our iPads or send a quick WhatsApp during an important meeting. You met friends, only to have to talk to the project manager on the phone for an hour on the terrace?  

One was everywhere and rarely there.  

Right now we are being brought to our knees. Even more so with a mask. Who would have thought it?! We can accept it gratefully, because we should go into ourselves, arrive at ourselves and then, when we meet, we should make the meeting a common experience and experience in the common moment. Corona teaches us that just spending time together in the same room without fresh air can cause contagion. It also teaches us through this that the common air that one breathes connects. That was always the case. But somehow we were quite careless about it.  

Just now we are learning that an analog setting is much more than just a shared work table with a coffee break. It creates a shared space in which people can connect, feel close and get closer, perceive each other physically and learn to understand each other, let each other get involved in a big idea. In order to then work together and exchange in a first-class way virtually as well.  

Whether I work virtually or in presence makes a big difference. Just which senses are addressed and what it does to my body. With both settings you can find great ways to lead, to collaborate, to communicate, to be successful. Both settings have their own rules. Each has its advantages and stumbling blocks. Both we can use perfectly to be effective and in both miserable failure is possible.  

Whatever I choose - whatever option I have at that particular moment - I should know myself and my audience, know about my strengths and weaknesses and I should master the chosen setting to be able to use it as a stage, as a dance floor. Telco, video conference, webinar, meeting, workshop in the green: the choice should be made by the topic, the result to be achieved, the circumstances in the team and not only by my preferences and (in)certainties. It should make no difference to me whether I have to hold an analog or virtual meeting. Whether I telephone, write or meet: It should be equally important in the sense of equal for me - only then will I freely decide on the appropriate form in the sense of the task. And be effective. In the sense of my cause, my vision, my mission. That is hybrid leadership.  

Use the time. Use the possibilities. We will be happy to accompany, advise and train you, so that you can put together your own personal toolbox of hybrid leadership methods.  

Communicate - and shape your leadership work on all channels.

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