Building Leaders’ Strengths in a Virtual World

Leadership development can be an organization’s impetus for organic growth and workforce engagement. As the year ends, it is a typical practice for many organizations to identify their high potential and top talents in a roster of the leadership pipeline as a critical succession strategy. 

Such is the case for a financial services company, whose goal is to continuously develop their people managers in the organization. And it is more crucial now, given the circumstance of the need to strengthen leadership capability in managing people virtually; there is the realization that there is a certain uniqueness in a virtual environment versus face-to-face or on-site managing. 

From Classroom to Zoom

Through a re-designed instructor-led approach, learning opportunities in discovering one’s leadership style and management capabilities were surfaced, and there was an emphasis in applying the management functions to actual projects and initiatives. The need to be structured in establishing the blueprint for executing the plans can be appreciated most especially, in identifying and engaging interdependent work units. It has been a common misstep that ‘other’ work units are not determined at the onset; for example, for a system-related project wherein Group A is the project owner, the supporting resources identified are the leaders or the management team that belong in Group A. That is an understandable route because these are the decision-makers who set the direction and provide the necessary approvals. However, a big lesson to be learned here is that alongside the key stakeholders, the rest of the support groups should be set up early as well. This refers to the IT support group, the developers, folks from a quality, administration team, and human resources. Early engagement with all the support groups means immediate collaborative efforts coming to life and breaking that silo mentality, and thus, can be much easier to sustain throughout the life cycle of that initiative.

Leaders See, Hear and Feel

In addition to being functional experts, effective leaders should possess a good understanding of organizational behaviors and motivation. One ought to be unflinching in facing the main challenge that any leader is confronted with: to be placed in an uncomfortable situation where they had to manage difficult conversations such as correcting the mistakes of another, managing unmet expectations or dealing with non-performers. An application of this simple, yet effective lesson in these scenarios was put into action: keep communication lines open. Even if communicating virtually, invite them to turn on their videos. Be observant by using both eyes and ears. Be sensitive to silence, to the tone and pitch of voice. Solicit verbal confirmation so the other party becomes more confident in expressing their selves. 

Overall, a significant lesson gained is that leadership is not just about being a technical guru. It takes a holistic approach in which relevant tools and techniques in performing the essential management functions are flourished throughout the learning experience, then nurtured long-term. Leadership proves itself to be a journey indeed because it must be developed as a habit over time. It is continuous, done every day as you log in to work – virtual or not.

A Fulfilled Collaboration

Whitehall Consulting had the pleasure to be an instrumental partner in this organization’s thrust in leadership development. Being online-ready for learning is our way of ensuring that the organization’s needs for learning and development are fully and effectively met in any circumstance. 

These are the top three feedback from the participants of the course, ‘Developing Everyday Managers.’

“Even at Zoom, it was really interactive.”

“All concepts of management were discussed with examples and explanations.”

“Participants were engaged by doing some exercises/role-playing.”



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