Successful collaboration, whether in a virtual or real environment, is defined by several important aspects.
For example, the function of mentoring or virtual mentoring and, strongly linked to this, the key qualification of attentiveness.
By the way, Peter shows you in our new e-learning course successful virtual collaboration & mentoring step by step!
Successful collaboration through mentoring, attentiveness and empathy
Position yourself as a mentor in the team
Most leaders, as well as employees, are unaware that part of their job is to teach others. Be it explaining the new process, training the new employee or showing the colleague the new software program. Collaboration also has a lot to do with passing on and sharing knowledge. A teammate who is unfamiliar with a topic is likely to ask the more experienced colleague for help. But often that’s not the case and she doesn’t ask because she or he may be afraid of appearing incompetent or perhaps disrupting the colleague’s work.
That’s why it’s so important to position yourself as a mentor on the team. You need to make others feel that they can turn to you if they don’t know something – that way you avoid mistakes. In turn, everyone will then have an open ear for you if you ever need something.
Because as a leader, you pay attention to many other things besides your own operational tasks. For example, one employee may be sick; another may want to talk about a possible termination; the e-mail inbox is literally exploding; the presentation for the next management meeting is also not yet ready; and then the quarterly figures are also below target. Tony Robbins always reminds me of this qoute “Where the focus goes, the energy flows.“
Prioritizing needs increased attention
Prioritizing, focusing on what is important, not getting distracted, and making clear decisions even in stressful situations are all skills that require increased attention. The greatest challenge we face in our daily work and as leaders is how to deal with attention. This means, on the one hand, to distribute our own attention carefully and disciplined and, on the other hand, to pay more attention to how we support others in directing their focus to the relevant things.
Attention depends strongly on motivation
Since attention is strongly dependent on motivation, it is first and foremost important to find out what motivates. It is easier to pay attention to things that give joy. If you want to increase your own attention span, I advise you to pay attention to what causes you to lose it. This can be obvious things like email notifications or phone calls, colleagues showing up without an appointment or the “binging noise” of a new chat message.
It’s important to always be aware of things like your mind wandering or losing focus. Having a clear head for what’s in front of you helps immensely. Just 10 minutes of mindfulness training a day can work wonders.
The “principle of rotating attention”
One way to sustainably focus one’s attention on important issues is the “principle of rotating attention” by Gerhard Mantel, a leading music educator and famous cellist. It is actually used for rehearsing difficult passages in music, but can certainly be applied to everyday leadership. Mantel describes that by looking closely at individual patterns, interesting and error-avoiding details open up to the player. Specifically, it is a matter of looking for three to five things that one would like to work on with special attention. This technique can also be used well in leadership work.
Strike a balance between focusing and de-focusing
Being attentive and resisting distractions has many benefits, but also takes a lot of our energy. It is important that we create a balance between focusing and de-focusing. Stress plays a big role here; if you have too much pressure you can’t focus well. But this also happens when you have no or too little pressure. Especially as an leader, it is important to get into balance here by, for example, allowing yourself enough breaks through meditation, a walk in the woods, or just sitting in silence for 5 minutes and letting your thoughts flow. Often it is the simple things that give us energy again.
Empathy – an attentive approach towards others
So far we have mainly talked about our own attentiveness in terms of concentration. Another important point is an attentive interaction with others, which according to business psychologist Daniel Goleman is particularly relevant for leaders. This is about the ability of empathy, i.e. understanding how other people think, empathizing with others and what other people need.
Empathy is the basis for any development of functioning relationships and is therefore relevant for convincing other people, influencing them or even generating attention. The focus is always on the other person.
We want to be seen and perceived by others
Getting attention from others is one of our basic human instincts. We want to be seen and perceived by others. The first question you should ask yourself if you want to get the attention of others is what do they get out of giving it to me? Therefore, it is important to create value for the other person, to share relevant and valuable content and to let our counterpart actively participate.
Of course, you can increase attention through activation methods such as asking questions, figurative language, storytelling, information deficits and much more, but as long as the content has no relevance and no added value for me as a participant of a meeting, I will probably wander off with my thoughts faster than the presenter would like.
Thinking exercise - How do I generate attention as a leader?
So before you start thinking about what online tools you could use and what fun games you could incorporate into the presentation, take some time to think about who your audience is and what makes them tick. What problems do they have? What challenges? What answers do they need?
Once you have an idea of this you can think of stories and metaphors, pick up examples from everyday work, etc. The mixture of the benefits of the content for your participants and the appropriate activation methods will then certainly keep them engaged.
Grounded and mindful leadership despite stressful situations
Being mindful of moments is just as relevant for a leader as it is for employees. Tuning into the here and now through meditation and thereby grounding oneself can be very helpful, especially in stressful situations, especially when important decisions are pending or the pressure is very high. It is often enough to concentrate on your own breathing for one or two minutes. Breathing consciously into the belly, for example, has been proven to reduce stress in the body. Through mindfulness, one also recognizes that some things just take their time, which can be enormously relieving for leaders and their teams. The basis of mindfulness is to perceive without judging and thus also protects against hasty decisions.
Especially for people who are very driven by their emotions or tend to overwork themselves, mindfulness training can be a wonderful method to do something good for themselves and thus further develop their leadership skills.
Trainer, Coach & MDI Partner
Peter Grabuschnig is a successful trainer, mindset coach and consultant. As a partner of MDI- Management Development International – he supports leaders worldwide in their development.
He has trained more than 40 nationalities in recent years and is considered an expert in training design. With his Webinar Guru Framework he has developed a tool that helps to design training content for successful and activating virtual learning.
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