In March we held our first “WaterCooler Talk” with the First Workings’ Advisory Board and the topic was Leadership in the Workplace. One of the conversation topics focused on how professionals across all experience levels can improve their leadership qualities while being physically separated from classmates, peers, and coworkers. The nature of remote learning and work can be challenging when reflecting on how one can improve their leadership qualities. While strengthening leadership skills isn’t as straightfoward as technical skills, it is possible to further develop these skills while we are home.
Identify your leadership style
It’s helpful to identify your leadership style before reflecting on how you can improve. Read Indeed’s article on the 10 most common Leadership Styles which will help recognize the benefits and challenges of your current style.
Step out of your comfort zone
It’s difficult to take on leadership roles when our normal interactions are not taking place. We encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone in virtual class discussions, group projects, meeting with a professor during office hours, or sending an email to an old connection. Stepping outside of your comfort zone helps you gain new perspectives and spurs growth.
Communicate more effectively
A major way of communicating more effectively while working and learning virtually is being mindful of nonverbal communication. Since nonverbal communication accounts for a large percentage of how audiences perceives us, it’s important to reflect on your body language when on video. Off video, a great way to enhance these leadership skills is to communicate more often than you think you need. This rough period of time means people may have a harder time paying attention to detail or understanding new ideas, over communicate to help everyone involved.
Hold yourself accountable
It’s easy to get accustomed to your day to day responsibilities and not check in with how you are doing. You are responsible for your own successes and challenges. While there are some situations where things are out of your control, how you respond and react to situations is up to you. A great way to hold yourself accountable while at home is to write everything down and create a strategy. A running do to list helps you visualize how you will tackle new projects and helps set a standard of what you need to accomplish.
Utilize your resources
Reach out to those in your network, ask for advice, and be open to learning from their experiences. The virtual environment allows people to have more flexibility to meet virtually, take advantage of this opportunity to connect with others through email, phone calls, LinkedIn, or video meetings. A great leader is one who isn’t shy to ask for help.
Take care of your own mental health
Self-care and frequent mental health check ins are vital for professional success. During times of crisis and high anxiety, it’s important to make sure we are prioritizing our own needs. Reflecting on what you need can help you be a better leader as your attitude and mindset will improve.