Leadership from Behind the Screen Part 2
It’s been a month since I sat down to write my initial post ‘Leadership from Behind the Screen.’ Believe it or not, so much has changed in a very short period of time. I initially raised two concerns: 1) staying connected with my team to ensure the relationships we had built were maintained, and 2) finding ways to actively lead my team from behind a screen.
We built into our week two 1-hour virtual team meetings (Monday mornings and Friday afternoons). These started as business meetings, everyone reporting their work ‘to dos’ or ‘completed.’ Over the weeks though, these have turned into 30 minute chat sessions about the weekend, updates for vacation plans, some team business, but mostly just gathering together. The time together virtually allows us to be social and engage in each others lives. Initially I scheduled individual virtual meetings weekly but found all of us over scheduled and over screened. I then took to reaching out to my team individually, usually by text but sometimes by email, just to check in. Sometimes, if I sense we need a face-to-face, we will schedule a virtual for a few minutes.
There are some days when team members need to vent or process. As a leader, I have always maintained an open door policy. Our current environment should be no different. I need to be available, so building buffers into my weeks has helped make me more available. Reducing the ‘scheduled’ meetings and being available when they ‘need me’ has actually allowed me to engage with each one of them more often than I did when we were on campus.
When I look back at my original post one main theme ran throughout: ‘get to business.’ As I sit here writing this blog I realize my perception of how to lead from behind a screen was not solely based, on how to support them, but rather on my own fear of failure them as a leader. What resonates with me now is this: From the customers we serve, to the professional development we engage in, from the social interactions we have together, to the community engagement we do as a team, whether in person or virtual, the team I am leading is the same team!
I recently read the book Bring Your Human To Work by Erica Keswin. It is spot on and well worth the read. Spoiler alert, she addresses several ideals for creating an effective human workplace culture. This article summarizes the book and includes building blocks that she describes further in the book.
It occurred to me that our team, our culture, was already built on these building blocks. We already did/do these things! So, I stopped worrying about the work and focused on the worker.
If you ask me today what it means to be a leader from behind the screen, here is what I would say: It means appreciating your team and showing value even when you don’t think they need to hear it. It means being available to actively listen and show compassion. It means, even remotely, finding time to engage personally, helping them find ways to disconnect, as well as professionally, by providing opportunities so they continue to feel challenged/successful. The rest takes care of itself!