Clear Comm Consulting

Adjusting to Leading in the Virtual World

Nov 25, 2020

If 2020 has been a year of adjustments and change, anyone who is in a leadership position can have this on their minds: What happens when a leader is good at their job in the “normal” world, but struggles with our new reality? Leading in the virtual world takes a separate skill set, on top of all the things expected of a leader in general. If you are such a person or work for or with one, these quick suggestions may be good food-for-thought as we look at a few more months, at least, of this reality. (I would also suggest these skills will be valuable long-term, because some aspects of our virtual lives will be forever with us.)

How do you connect with people as a leader? If the person in question is a “walk around the workplace” kind of person, but now can’t really do that, what happens then? Let me suggest there MUST be an active and organized plan to take the place of all that “walking around.” Just lamenting the change we’re experiencing will not work, and can result in that person losing their job. Rework schedules, get good at virtual meetings and dive in. If ever there has been a time to overcommunicate, it is now.

Ask the overlooked questions: Employees across most every industry are experiencing a roller coaster of emotions – and going into the Holiday season only adds to the ride. What questions are not being asked? What can be said to get people to open up a bit? May I suggest you ask about others in your employee’s life? People will often be reluctant to share their own anxieties but will share what is happening with others in a way that can reveal their own experiences.

Be okay with not getting it completely right: Having perfection as the goal can paralyze leaders. Being honest about your own struggles or concerns can lead to progress for both parties in a healthy conversation. Great leaders often have transparency as a superpower. That doesn’t mean every conversation is a heart-to-heart, but simply letting people know you may not be getting it all right and you’re good with feedback can build your credibility, not tear it down.

Get some professional help: Quick survey here – raise your hand if “managing through a pandemic” was in the job description when you took your current job? Anybody? (Okay, maybe it was if you started your job in the last six months!) Anyway, this time requires a unique extra set of skills many of us were unprepared for when this all started. Finding someone who can give you support in this chapter of leadership can be a valuable investment.

As we go into the Holiday season I am especially thankful for the unique, COVID-necessary assignments and challenges that have come my way through the last eight months from clients I am fortunate enough to work with. I wish you the very best as we wrap-up 2020 and please connect anytime with a question, thought, reaction or update at [email protected].

Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting,, a Phoenix, AZ-based communications consulting firm which is helping people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: [email protected].

Follow along with Cary on Twitter @CaryPfeffer

Advice on How to Connect in Business