My mum was a junior school teacher all her working life. Now, she’s a sprightly 70-something-year-old retiree and does not like to be idle. In addition to her virtual art classes, and many weekly artistic outpourings (this month her theme is birds), her walks by the river, her poetry-writing, her baking for neighbours and friends, her teaching the harp via Skype, she also holds Zoom calls with her children and numerous grandchildren.
This lockdown has placed a lot of us on a steep learning curve. Not least the curve of mastering management and leadership to a virtual team whilst also doing our best to survive an economic nosedive. But one of the many positive lessons that we’ve learnt in the midst of this pandemic is that we are brilliant adapters.
My mum has not only learnt what a video conference call is, and that she can make such calls from her laptop in any room of her house, but she has also become an expert in the optimal environmental setup necessary for virtual communication. Who would have known? The other day she was telling one of my brothers (no spring chicken himself) to remember to sit correctly in the frame of the screen, to position the screen at the optimal angle and to get the lighting and background right for these calls. Well, what a hoot! Once a teacher, always a teacher! How remarkable to discover a new focus for her transferable skills at her silver-surfing age?
There’s a plethora of marketing messages on our screens each day about mastering virtual working and learning to make friends with the tech. But, frankly, those are just the basics. Your paintbrush, not the actual painting. The artwork that you create is what people will remember you for as you lead them through 2020.
Yes, my mum has a lot of advice when it comes to video conferencing. But virtual communication is actually not about the tech. It’s about what you say, how you make your team members feel and how you help steer them through these tough times. You want them to feel engaged and inspired to be part of projects that you’re leading. To want to get involved. To be motivated to work towards an accomplishment that they may not have been excited about initially. To help them to find the intrinsic WIIFM rewards and to be reminded why their team and their organization exist.
There are many tricks of the trade that managers and leaders can learn in order to raise the bar of their communication ability. iOpener’s world-class coaches and learning facilitators have been called upon by business schools and organizations for years to lead classes of top talent and executives through communication learning journeys. We relish the challenge to help these high potentials shine. To help them articulate and deliver their key messages that need to be shared and to find their voice of inspiration.
This weekend, I’ll be facilitating an online session to MBA students around the world on ‘Leading Change’. You couldn’t really find a more relevant topic, given today’s marketplace of radical change and disruption.
Many will go on to choose further iOpener sessions. ‘Communicating Virtually’ is the obvious next choice for many. That’s because they know that to lead others through disruption, you need executive presence and the ability to present innovative initiatives with impact online, to influence and persuade others and to inspire through storytelling.
Five hours of your life
This series of five sessions over five weeks is perfect for all manager and leaders who know that their communication style is business-critical more than ever. You will be guided through the program by an accomplished workshop facilitator. But you won’t just learn from your facilitator. These sessions are for small groups of up to eight participants to ensure plenty of interaction and lively experiential sharing and you’ll be learning from one another in this live virtual classroom; sharing best practices and cross-pollinating ideas for adaptation to this new world of work.
You’ll be embedding the transferable skills of brilliant communication that will become a part of who you are. And that will continue to serve you and your career progress for decades to come. Until you, yourself, can tell your grandchildren what you know.