31 episodes

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.

Virtual Leadership Development: how to master the new normal Philip Botha, Bernhard Zimmermann

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

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.

    29 How to leverage Interpersonal Skills: Supporting

    29 How to leverage Interpersonal Skills: Supporting

    What does supporting mean as an interpersonal skill in Virtual Collaboration? How well do your team members support each other in your virtual meetings? This is the topic of our conversation in episode 29 of our Virtual Leadership Development series.

    As we’ve said previously, we enjoy working with Human Synergistics’ Survival Simulation - Team Building series. In our experience, their Problem Solving model is great not only for solving problems but also in helping us improve how we communicate and collaborate in virtual sessions. In this episode we focus on the second skill - supporting - of four interpersonal skills: listening, supporting, differing and participating, to create greater acceptance.

    How do we support others in a way that everyone is able to engage with each other equally in a conversation? So often meetings are dominated by one or more participants while others contribute little. Effectively, this robs the team of valuable contributions that may have led to more diversity and better solutions. A principle of supporting from our perspective is that as leaders or facilitators of a session we need to take responsibility to create a space where everyone is able to contribute equally and support each other to do so.

    So what are examples of what wouldn’t like to see in a virtual session?

    Participants focusing on what is wrong with an idea. To focus on what’s at fault with an idea, or find problems with it, is very seldom motivating. The less interest we have in what others say while defending our own opinion, the less we are able to connect and engage.

    Conversely, if we apply Supporting, what should we be able to observe?

    We would see participants acknowledge what ‘works’ in others' ideas and find the positive aspects to help make them even better for everyone. Help others to express their ideas fully by being curious and creating a space where they feel empowered to contribute fully. Often a great contribution to a conversation could be a simple question, like 'what does that mean for you?' or 'tell me more?'


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    • 17 min
    28 How to leverage Interpersonal Skills: Listening

    28 How to leverage Interpersonal Skills: Listening

    Want to boost the effectiveness of your virtual communications? In episode 28 of our Virtual Leadership Development series - How to leverage Interpersonal Skills, we do a deep dive into the interpersonal skills we can leverage to achieve this. 

    We are big fans of Human Synergistics’ Survival Simulation - Team Building series. One of the models used in the series Problem Solving is excellent for building problem-solving skills in Teams. However, working again with this recently, we discovered that the Interpersonal Skills defined in this model become even more relevant in helping us improve how we communicate and collaborate in virtual sessions. In short, the model focuses on four critical interpersonal skills: Listening, Supporting, Differing and Participating, to create greater acceptance.

    We have already spoken at length about what we defined as Conscious Listening, and in this episode, we thought it worthwhile to take another look at it from the model's perspective. In this and the next three episodes in this series, we explore each skill from 2 perspectives, firstly the behaviour we observe in how we show up using the skill and secondly, the process we use in applying the skill. To make it even more practical, we also distinguish the behaviours in terms of what we want to see and what we would not like to see. As an example of the latter, we don’t like seeing people interrupting each other and having more than one conversation at a time, which online leads nowhere very fast.


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    • 16 min
    27 How to Manage the Tech part 2

    27 How to Manage the Tech part 2

    What impact do your choices about Tech issues have on your Virtual meetings?

    In our 27th episode of Virtual Leadership Development - How to Manage the Tech, we focus on how connectivity and devices impact our connection on an interpersonal or relationship level and how we can approach this constructively.

    We have all faced connectivity issues as result of problems with ethernet, WiFi, bandwidth or mobile connections. What impact do these connectivity issues have on our connection with others, how can we influence or deal with these issues? We discuss these from a practical perspective and one of the simple suggestions we have is that, it is all dependent on preparation. You can never be too prepared!

    Our second topic in this episode covers devices. Again it is really important to understand how the choices we make about devices have an impact our connection. We run through quite a few topics that, from our observation, people often ignore, moving beyond choices about desktops or laptops to, for example, the important impact that cameras, lighting, microphones and backgrounds have on the quality of engagement we have in virtual surroundings.

    The final responsibility for tech choices and decisions lie with each participant. However, it is our responsibility as moderator or leader to influence these so that we create the best environment for connection to happen.


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    • 14 min
    26 How to Manage the Tech

    26 How to Manage the Tech

    How do you manage Tech in Virtual Meetings?

    So often the start of a virtual session is delayed or even undermined by tech issues. In our 26th and 27th episode we focus on how to manage and approach this.

    Topics we discuss include, how to rethink what happens in a room, in order to transfer it into a virtual setting. For example, how to replace standard elements we often use in a workshop, like flip charts and post-its, with virtual tools. The essence of this means really understanding the process and dynamics of what happens in a room, in order to recreate something similar online, and not just trying to do the same thing.

    Today there are many different software and platform choices available, how do we choose which to use? Or, often we have no choice, which could create a problem, as all platforms are not necessary equal in creating a space for people to really connect and interact. It is therefore important to not only understand the advantages of the different platforms, but also their disadvantages, as sometimes we are forced to use them, and need to overcome these.

    Not only team leaders or facilitators are faced with tech issues, participants in these sessions too. We need to make these easier for them to overcome, in order to have a successful interaction.


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    • 15 min
    25 How to Deal with Zoom Fatigue part 2

    25 How to Deal with Zoom Fatigue part 2

    What can you do about Zoom Fatigue?

    Zoom fatigue is described as the sense of being totally exhausted after a series of online meetings. In our previous episode we focused on the first two causes, and in this episode we explore causes 3 and 4 .

    The third cause of Zoom fatigue encompasses constantly seeing yourself during video chats in real-time. Add to this also a self-critical attitude about self-appearance that is quite common. Some people are even hypercritical of their own image, without realising it, especially their mirror-image, which is how they see themselves every day. This can be very stressful and distracting during online meetings. Interestingly the research shows a major difference between men and women regarding this. Also, for example, introverts experience stronger Zoom fatigue symptoms than extroverts.
    We also explore our own suggestions about to deal with this.

    The last cause considers that our cognitive load is much higher in virtual communication, where we have to work much harder to send and receive signals. Also, add the fact that we are focused on a matrix of video panels in front of us where we try to ‘read’ all of them simultaneously, instead of, like in real life, choosing to look around us, on where and what we want to focus on. And even though each panel image is small, this still puts us within each other's personal space, only adding to our sense of vulnerability.

    We also explore what can we do ourselves, to make it less tiring for other people, by taking responsibility for how we show up in a virtual call.

    Listen to our podcast to hear more, as well as our suggestions of how to minimise these in meetings.

    https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/

    https://news.stanford.edu/2021/04/13/zoom-fatigue-worse-women/


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    • 14 min
    24 How to deal with Zoom Fatigue part 1

    24 How to deal with Zoom Fatigue part 1

    Do you experience Zoom Fatigue? 

    How does Zoom Fatigue impact on your own virtual meetings?

    Zoom Fatigue can be described as the sense of being completely exhausted after a series of online meetings. This is no urban legend. Stanford University actually did two research studies on the subject (see links below).

    In this episode we focus on the first two causes.

    1st cause: during an online meeting, we have a continuously focus on one screen containing a matrix of video panels. In a normal room setting, our gaze would drift around the table, or the room, from speaker to speaker. In this setting however, we have only one view with a dramatic increase in (attempted) eye contact.

    Researchers found that, very often the relative size we see people at in their individual panels is quite close up, which in normal life would put them within our personal space. Normally they say, we only experience this when mating or in conflict. In a business setting, we then subconsciously experience stress as if we were in a conflict situation, adding to our overall mental fatigue.

    In our discussion, we differ from the researchers on how to address the issues, as their recommendation - from our point of view - would lead to less connection and engagement during a virtual meeting.

    2nd cause: in a series of online meetings, we are stuck in the same position for a prolonged period of time and our movement is limited in a way that is not natural for us. Studies long before the pandemic show that, the average sitting posture in an office chair limits the blood circulation and therefore also the oxygen supply to the brain. This depletes our energy faster and restricts our cognitive capacity and capability.

    So if you groan inwardly when you are next invited to yet another virtual meeting, think about it, that it's not just important to make meetings more energising and engaging, but also about reducing the factors that actively induce Zoom Fatigue.

    Listen to our podcast to hear more about this and also to hear our suggestions of how to minimise these in meetings.

    https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/

    https://news.stanford.edu/2021/04/13/zoom-fatigue-worse-women/


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    • 14 min

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