One of my favorite things to do when I’m speaking at events is to attend other sessions. Not too long ago I sat in on a panel discussion, with a handful of corporate leaders, and I don’t remember what the topic was, but they got on to this conversation around surprising outcomes of virtual meetings. And look, you’ve all been running virtual meetings for at least a few years, and you probably still are. But one particular manager shared that she ended up loving that during virtual meetings, she receives private messages from her direct reports.
These private messages are either a question that they had or an opinion, or maybe they disagreed with whatever maybe a senior leader was presenting during this meeting. And she loved that they felt like they were in a safe place, that they could privately message this to her, and how if they had been in person, she’s not sure that this would’ve happened. I absolutely love this!
First of all, I want to give kudos to this manager for having that safe relationship with her direct reports that they could even message her on this. But I also want to say, look, it’s most likely they wouldn’t have said it in person because they didn’t even publicly say it virtually. So here is an opportunity to take this a step further. While as a leader, if this has been happening for you, you’ve got your direct reports private messaging you during virtual meetings, please acknowledge that that is fantastic.
Give them the kudos or the “well done” for being brave and for being vulnerable, even if it is just with you. But here’s that opportunity for coaching for you as a leader to coach them and say, you know, “Hey, great job. Fantastic that you sent me this. I love the question that you asked.” Have a discussion around that. And then say, “Hey, I’m curious. What was the reason that you just sent it to me? You know, we had everybody there virtually on, during the meeting. What was the reason you chose just to send it to me versus saying it to everyone?”
Use that curiosity, use that question in whatever shape feels right for you to then open the door for coaching. Because while yes, again, I’m so glad that that person is asking the question or stating their opinion, but imagine how much more impactful it can be for that person to publicly make a declaration, publicly ask a question – done in an appropriate way with your guidance and coaching.
I want to again say that this is such a beautiful, surprising outcome. I love it! But let’s not stop there. As leaders, use these things as launching pads to take it to the next level. Be curious and coach so that they can truly have that confidence and begin advocating for themselves. If you’ve done this or you have a thought about this, please comment below. I would love for our community to hear from you on what this looks like within your team and your organization!