Being confident in your skills and abilities as a leader can be a challenge, and integrating that into a virtual environment even more so. Technology has changed our daily lives and interactions more than ever, with interviews, meetings, and education being applied to an online setting. More and more people are becoming discouraged from having to compete with glitches and bad wifi, and unfortunately becoming disillusioned with what it takes to be a leader in this new environment. It can be very isolating, making you lose confidence in your capabilities. What does it mean to be a leader on Zoom? How do you make an impact in a virtual setting? Here are a few tips to help you get started in the right direction.
The best way to approach becoming a leader in a virtual environment is to put your best foot forward. Having a positive attitude towards the situation will help you and others realize the potential of this new setting and how to take advantage of these opportunities. Texting, email, Zoom conferences, and even social media can help you stay connected in an online setting, and will help you promote what type of leader you are. I recently attended the Imprint I-Program, where the speakers and alumni stressed the importance of networking and promoting your brand to future employers. Showcasing your skills through interacting with others, both online and in-person is how you “market” yourself as the best candidate. The same thing applies to being a leader! Give your team members a clear perspective of what type of leader you are going to be, keeping those same leadership qualities both in-person and in an online professional setting.
Standing out from the crowd can be intimidating, especially in a virtual environment with a bunch of blank screens. Putting yourself out there and making a great first impression demonstrates your capabilities as a leader to your classmates and coworkers. It can be as simple as saying hello or catching up with each other on shared interests or situations. There may very well be others who find the new virtual setting uncomfortable and will take some getting used to, so taking action to make sure everyone feels welcome and included is an important first step to presenting yourself as a leader.
Another important aspect is communication, where speaking up and sharing your ideas together will promote teamwork. In a virtual environment, that element of human interaction is missing and can be crucial to developing strong relationships in a professional setting. Getting over that hurdle comes with turning on your microphone, your camera, or even typing in a chatroom what your ideas are and having those conversations. Being a leader means encouraging the members of your group to share and discuss these ideas in a constructive way that is effective and understandable for everyone. Although you may not be face to face, keeping the interaction going and making sure all ideas are heard, appreciated, and applied to the current project are qualities a leader should possess to bring their group together.
Like any skill, these will take time and practice to perfect, especially when it comes to a virtual environment. Yet, don’t let that aspect of virtual learning and interaction stop you, and keep an open mind about all the resources that are available to you as well as the benefits of being online. Building connections is so important as a leader, and in any environment, you have the capability of bringing people together.