I was lucky enough to meet GE CEO Jeff Immelt at a Cisco event some years ago and interview him on the topic of leadership. My biggest takeaway from listening to him: leadership is about how you “show up.” In other words, it’s how we act and behave in everyday situations that define our leadership persona. I’m pretty sure he meant it literally, as in how we “show up” in the physical world.
But how do we “show up” as leaders in a world where work is increasingly done on a mobile phone or tablet, or using a video chat, web conference or Telepresence? This is one of the great leadership challenges of this hyper-connected world: as a leader you will need to know what I like to call your “Collaboration Persona” – that way in which your leadership style shows up when you’re not in the physical world.
How should you approach building your Collaboration Persona? Here are three steps:
1) Know yourself: Whether it is in the physical world or virtual, how we show up should authentically represent who we are. Click here to take a quick online assessment to discover your authentic communication style (Click on the green “Take Survey” button). This confidential assessment is a bit like the Myers-Briggs test and provides you with a customized profile of your unique communication style; it reveals how you naturally process information, and how you prefer to deliver that information to others. Most importantly, the assessment provides a simple vocabulary to communicate your style to others. Are you conceptual or analytical? An introvert or an extrovert?
My co-author Carl and I cover this extensively in Chapter 3 of The Collaboration Imperative, entitled “Get Real about Communications.”
2) Know where you excel as a “Virtual Star”: Just as you play to your strengths in the real world, play to your strengths in the virtual world. Here are some examples:
- If you are a conceptual thinker, you will excel when the team needs someone to explain the aspirations of a decision, such as a vision. These thinkers will be good on video presentations during virtual meetings. It’s not that conceptual people aren’t good in online discussion forums where the medium calls for more precise language; it’s more about playing to the strength of conceptual thinkers – they love talking about ideas and tapping into that passion on video is a great way to play to one’s strengths.
- If you are an analytical thinker, you will excel at “making it real” when communicating a decision to your team. These thinkers are outstanding in virtual mediums where precision communicates best – such as online question and answer sessions and discussion forums. Again, it’s not that analytical thinkers aren’t outstanding on video, where the communication is sometimes more free-flow; it’s that online Q&A and discussions forums play to the strong logical nature of analytical thinkers – they love communicating the steps taken, the process used, and the supporting facts of a decision.
3) Get out there and practice on your medium: When you align your communication style to these new forms of communication, you’ll find it easy to participate in the increasingly virtual, mobile, social and visual work environment that your teams leverage to get better, more productive results every day. You can’t underestimate how your team will appreciate your unique efforts at participation in the world they live in.
Follow me on Twitter: @RonRicciCisco