Leading from the Couch

By Gaylen Smith-Osborn

Many of us have gotten used to working from home from time to time, perhaps calling in for meetings when we’re a bit under the weather, or home with a sick loved one.  We put off any non-essential meetings and often find we are more productive than ever.  Yet now that anyone and everyone that can work from home is working from home, how do we lead with intention and ‘everyday’ leadership rather than put things off till we’re all back in the office?  Here are 4 keys to leading well from home:

Your Leadership Brand:  Take some time to think about your leadership brand.  What strengths do you have that have got you to the place you are as a leader?  What are some leader habits you employ in the office and how can you translate those to the virtual environment? (HINT: the answer is NOT email everyone more often!)

Up Your 1/1 Communication:  Whatever you think might be a good cadence for 1/1 meetings, double it and you’ll be closer.  If in the office you held 1/1’s once a week, try meeting twice a week and adjusting to more if needed.

Team Meetings with Meaning:  Congratulations, you have just become a conductor!  Virtual team meetings require great structure and facilitation.  You’ll want to do all the things you do in a face-to-face meeting but with stronger intention.  Use the agenda you’ve prepared, do a virtual check-in with each team member, and rather than throwing out questions to the group, do a round-robin so each person knows when it is their turn to chime in.  Start the workday with a short team check-in meeting to remind everyone that you are, in fact, a team.  Teams that do this often find it so helpful that they also do an end-of-day check-in meeting!  There’s so much more to say about virtual team meetings, yet these tips will get you started like the pro you are.

Smile, You’re on Camera:  If you and your team have cameras on those laptops, this is the time to use them.  Face-to-face communication is more engaging for everyone, and bonus…people aren’t tempted to multi-task or play games in the background when they are on camera.  So as your team sets up your virtual culture, make using video part of the groundwork.  It also gives everyone reasons to smile as cats and children wander through the room.

Employ these strategies to keep your team engaged and productive.  What are you doing that’s working?  Any missteps you want to share to keep the rest of us from tripping over our virtual feet?  We’d love to learn together in our virtual leader community!

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