Dear Remote Leaders
It is my sad duty to inform you that Karlov, Kristoff or Konstantin – I never can remember the man’s name – is not here this month to send you his usual under-powered, misinformed and self-pitying comments about the life of a remote leader. The truth is, he had become so overweight and unhealthy eating chicken nuggets and drinking incessantly and generally not doing a stroke of work that I decided to send him off to a health farm to do the ‘C Plan’ package – counselling, cosmetic surgery, crash diet – that he will need to restore him to any semblance of professional functionality.
Unless he loses 3 stone, gets a personality transplant and his nasal hair trimmed, I may decide not to reinstate him. In the meantime, some of you – rather astonishingly – appear to have sent him in some questions about remote leadership. As he evidently knows nothing at all about the subject, I have decided to step in and answer them on his behalf, putting together some relevant tips that I sincerely hope will deter the incompetent among you from ill-advisedly imposing your lack of skills in running virtual meetings upon your long-suffering colleagues and superiors.
PS Contrary to popular belief, I am not from Transylvania and bear no resemblance whatsoever to Count Dracula. Neither was I brought up in a fish factory tearing the heads off piranhas with my bare hands. These are malicious rumours and I refute them in the strongest possible terms.
Is it a good idea to get dressed when I run an online meeting, or can I sit in my Superman pyjamas? Also, what happens if I get hungry? I’ve got a bit of a thing about chocolate cheesecake. Will anyone know if I’m having a snack?
Just because you’re sitting for hours behind a computer screen doesn’t mean you can let yourself go. Get dressed, for heaven’s sake! Look presentable. An unfit body suggests a lazy mind. I urge 100 press-ups and a two mile run daily before every online meeting, with physical stretches to warm your body and free your voice. As for the snacking and the Superman pyjamas – words fail me. Unless you are an 8 year old boy with an unfortunate eating disorder, I have only one piece of advice to offer. Which is: Pop yourself on mute before you put any more carbohydrate-laced toxins into your evidently oversized face, then do us all a favour and GET A LIFE.
I hate running online meetings. My slides are always so boring and I just don’t know what to do about it. I break out into a cold sweat every time I have to do one, especially now that people have complained that they would rather spend 24 hours watching paint dry than attend one of my online presentations. Any ideas?
Even someone as evidently inadequate as you can do their best not to inflict your tedious personality on other people. Powerpoint Slides are for firing the imagination and stimulating ideas, not for boring the pants off people. Get rid of all that dreary text and use some images instead! Inspire, don’t perspire! And if this doesn’t work – face the facts. You ARE just boring, and nothing can be done about it. Get used to it.
I am worried. I have just started a new job as a remote team leader and I haven’t a clue what to do. My first online meeting is next week. Any ideas?
- TIP ONE: Turn the job down now while the going is good. You are clearly clueless. If it’s too late to do that, try to get some technical support. The office geek or some other technical person – what do they call them, a producer? – can minimise the humiliation or even take over the meeting so that you can sneak away unnoticed before your reputation is in tatters.
- TIP TWO: Plug your computer in to the router, ask meeting participants to use a headset with mic, and use one yourself. If you can’t be as charismatic and entertaining as I am when working online (which I do acknowledge is setting the bar almost unbearably high for most ordinary people) – then do at least try to be audible.
- TIP THREE: During long silences, don’t say (as Kristoff once did): ‘Does anyone know any good jokes?’ Most definitely do NOT, as he also did, resort to shouting: ‘Is anyone even OUT THERE? Help!!’ in a shrill, panicky-sounding voice.
- TIP FOUR: Be nice to people. Don’t talk all the time. Encourage interaction. Say hello, introduce people, create a friendly atmosphere, ask questions, be relaxed.
- TIP FIVE: Being distant doesn’t mean being distant. Be warm, use your empathy, try and help people have a good time in your meetings. Unless you dislike people as much as I do. In which case try to become the boss of your entire organisation and then it doesn’t matter how unpleasant you are. Or leave. It is your choice.
There are several other letters here from ludicrous fools who clearly lack the competence to get out of bed in the morning, let alone do anything remotely resembling a proper job.
I grow weary of answering their tedious bleatings. I am a world-class expert in virtual communication, not a lowlife agony aunt.
Editor’s note: Kenneth will be back in a couple of weeks, after his ‘C Plan’ ordeal, a fitter and wiser man, perhaps with fewer nostril hairs and ideally with some more useless advice and pointless tips for remote leaders across the globe. Unless of course he fails to achieve any of these self-improvement goals,and Racquela finally fires him. In which case, who will write these blogposts? Better watch this space ….
Fredrik Fogelberg is a chartered Organisational Psychologist specializing in leadership development and team facilitation in international organizations. He has over 30 years of international experience in the corporate world and as a consultant.