Leading in a virtual environment: be inspired and inspirational
More insight from Claire Dale, RADA Business tutor and Leadership Programme Director
In recent weeks, Claire has been sharing insight into how leaders can adapt and develop their skills whilst navigating the changing landscape of business.
As we continue to get to grips with working in a virtual world, it can be easy to lose focus. Modelling inspirational leadership may not be at the top of your agenda when there are so many other practicalities to consider.
Yet the way we communicate as leaders is key to success. In many ways this has never been more important, as all teams look to their leaders for guidance, motivation and reassurance during trying times.
So how can you achieve inspirational leadership during such unusual circumstances? Read on for Claire's thoughts.
Claire on inspirational leadership
"In lock-down, and when there is an uncertain future ahead of us, it is so easy to get shut down physically, emotionally and mentally. And yet, to be inspirational in a virtual world we must connect with our life-force: the very centre of our being, the place where every breath comes from, where our emotions are felt and our passion for life begins. And we can do this with each breath. The breath is often associated with the soul or spirit. For the Ancient Greeks, breath was the spiritual life-force. The Latin root of the word inspire is spirant – literally meaning breath – and you can find that root right there in the centre of the word ‘inspiration’. When we express a thought or idea as leaders, the way we speak and behave can liberate that life force in others. We can fan the flames of ideas and fire people up to succeed. The breath, therefore, becomes not only a physiological necessity but a vital social currency in our ability to truly inspire our teams and organisations.
Inspiring others through virtual platforms
Through the flat technology of webcams and microphones, inspiration requires some effort and attention. How can we really reach people with our voices, our eyes and our energy? How can we really connect with the meaning of what is happening and use language, tone of voice and rhetoric in a stirring, poetic, enervating way that lights up the emotions and passions in others?
Try this exercise to connect with and inspire your audience:
- Breathe to and from the centre of your body. Imagine each breath arriving at and filling the area behind the navel.
- Think of the inbreath as your time to think about what you will say – this is when we connect to our thought. Then, think of the outbreath as your time to express that thought – this is when we connect to our audience.
- Keep the centre of the body flexible. Virtual communication leads to more static working patterns, so twist from the waist regularly and stretch the sides of your body to enable your breath to be free and full.
- Working from home can mean we are working in less ergonomic spaces, so make sure you open and expand your body posture. Stand up for calls and use gesture to free up your communication and expressivity.
- Use your full voice. Embrace rising and falling in pitch, emphasise key words and vary your tone to break through the flatness of the technological space.
- Allow the ideas and thoughts to move you – connect with how you feel emotionally about the work and express it. Move your words to move others so that they too will feel, invest, and care.
- Use the tools of rich and meaningful language – including imagery, anecdotes, stories, metaphors and similes – so that meaning, and emotion reach the hearts and minds of the listener.
- Use your own imagination to put yourself in other people's shoes and find the best way to collaborate with people. Listen to others.
- Look into the lens of your camera with the intention of really seeing your audience. Put a smile behind your eyes and make each individual feel that you are talking only to them.
Get out of your own way
When we communicate from the inspirational centre of our leadership, we hold nothing back. We don’t hesitate or doubt, but rather we liberate our thoughts and feelings to share them with others, trusting the incredible, natural ability we have as human beings to express thoughts and emotions through our voices. If you look at it in this way, it's easy to see that being inspirational has a whole lot to do with us getting out of our own way."
Get in touch
We have been working hard to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic in order to continue to support all our clients currently.
Find out how Claire and our expert team of tutors can help you to refine your leadership whilst you're performing on a virtual stage by contacting +44 (0)20 7908 4830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.