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Leading From a Distance: Best Practices of Leaders in the Cloud

This is the second in a series of pieces I am doing on virtual collaboration and trends for CEOs, small business owners and entrepreneurs.  It looks at best practices for virtual video-conferencing technology and the techniques for keeping people engaged using tools from the cloud.  Today’s Vlog interview is with Phil Montero, president of Montero Consulting and founder of YouCanWorkFromAnywhere.com and http://www.TheAnywhereOffice.com.  Phil is a business partner and friend and happens to be one of the world’s best gurus when working with small and mid-sized business leaders to set up the technology, training and tools for working leading from afar.

CEO Collaboration Trends Online

Phil sees the biggest trend in virtual collaboration among CEOs as simply that there is more of it, and it is a pattern that won’t be broken anytime soon.  In many cases, virtual peers may work together for years and never meet face to face, yet still enjoy a successful business relationship.

Technology Choice

The tech you choose for operating virtually should be like the federal government should be (and is not)–functional yet non-intrusive.  Virtual leadership success comes from finding tools that serve the physical purpose without getting in the way of people learning to know, like and trust one another.  That is still paramount to human beings in any work environment.

What gets you closer that works repeatedly and shortens the virtual distance between any online collaborators?

Cloud-based tools like Skype Video, Skype Screen share, Google docs and an assortment of mobile applications have cheapened the price of getting together from around the globe.  Moreover, the ever expanding reach of Wi-Fi connections and hotspots has increased the importance of mobile devices, and cloud application developers are trying to keep pace.

How to Run Your Online Meetings

Once the technology hurdle is overcome, not always as easy as you would think, today’s CEOs and Executives have to deal with the human factors during online meetings.  Attendees who are on the team with even the best intentions and motivation will drift and start to multi-task during a boring meeting.  To get and keep max engagement, Phi suggests…

Brief and Right to the Point

There is a trend in the physical meeting space to try to shorten meetings due to the massive time commitment needed on the part of all attendees.  Amplify that for online meetings.  Want a 60 minute meeting?  Break it into 3 20 minute meetings if possible.  It’s less convenient for you but more engaging for participants, and that means they are more effective after leaving the meeting.

Agenda in Advance

Get out an agenda in advance so people can prepare, not only for their parts but to get their heads around what is going to be covered.

Be a 4th Grade Teacher

Call on people at random to verify understanding.  Only a few instances of being caught unaware will develop the collective consciousness of keeping engaged to avoid the opportunity to broadcast being unprepared and suffering the slings and arrows of your peers.

Technology Can Stifle Leaders in the Cloud

In a process I will call Tech Deadening, the virtual technology minimizes the enthusiasm of leader communication in reverse proportion to how far you are from the real thing.  For instance, video is the next best thing to being there, but it isn’t being there.  Just teleconferencing?  Your listeners are even further de-sensitized.  Texting—you get the picture.

Leaders need to be aware of this and exaggerate tone, gestures, facial expressions and their Knut Rockne speeches in order to connect.

Check out Phil Montero at YouCanWorkFromAnywhere.com and The Art of Virtual Leadership on-demand training course.  Post your comments on the Vlog interview below.

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