Do leaders need to be the ultimate party hosts?

Leadership skills and party hosting are not often put in the same sentance, but in the world of remote working, they absolutely need to be.

In fact, in my book LeaderX, I shared how the GenerationX and Xennial generations have a unique set of values that should enable them to be the ultimate Remote and Hybrid working leader. They value autonomy, freedom, relationship, fun and experience. 

On the LeaderX Podcast with Dr Nicola Millard, she explains:

 

That sense of culture and community is easy to build in an office space. You ‘ve got things around you that echo the brand, you can observe behaviours. It’s easier

In a virtual environment, leaders need to actively demonstrate those behaviours and make them incredibly tangible and visible. It is not easy. The work that’s been done by both MIT and London Business School bears this out,  leaders need to be able to connect people and then create the platforms for collaboration. I call that being the perfect party hosts. If you’re at a party, and the party host is brilliant, generally, what they do is they know a little bit about everybody. They start to introduce people together, people they think might find interesting.

How do you actually create a good future leader? Look at the people that are good at connecting initially, and there aren’t very many of them. That’s the sad thing. Then actually train leaders and managers around that networking piece, not just in the physical space, but also in the virtual space.

How do you make and create those connections to create the purpose for collaboration?

The point Dr Nicola makes is spot on. How many meetings have you been to online where you have no idea who is on the call, why they are there and what contribution you should be making? How is anyone supposed to speak freely, innovate and collaborate when they don’t even know who is in the virtual room with them.


I didn’t learn how to facilitate a meeting (in the real world) until I began to lead workshops. To get peoples best work, facilitators or trainers need to create the environment for the session. There is usually the awkward “introduce yourself” piece, followed by an icebreaker. It might feel awkward at first, but it is essential for making people feel safe.

The same applies for meetings, in person or online.

You have to see yourself less as “managing” the meeting, and instead shift to “facilitating” a gathering.

Top tips

  1. Introduce and soften: Before you launch into the topic, soften it up a little. Do you need to introduce each other? Do you need an icebreaker, a breakout room chat or another activity.
  2. Get clarity: Be clear about the purpose of the meeting, the expected outcomes, and how it will work and how you want people to be with each other. 
  3. Manage the flow: It’s inevitable that the extroverts or more invested individuals will speak up, potentially over powering others. So facilitate the flow of speakers. If you want to hear from a couple of people, name them. If you want people to explore more in depth, open break out rooms and ask people to report back their ideas. 
  4. Variety: Use multiple different tools to generate discussion. Visuals are powerful, using interactive white boards, sharing images or videos, or collaboration tools. Change the pace with active discussions, presentations, have breaks for reflection or ask people to jot down ideas for a couple of minutes. The variety of activities and flow enables people to think, create and innovate.
  5. Commit: As the gathering begins to close, ask everyone (verbally or chat box) to confirm what they think has been agreed, what they have learned or heard. This means everyone will stay engaged, actively listen and allows you to check for understanding and alignment. Then summarise what has been agreed or what each person has committed to. Who is doing what by when.

Being the ultimate party host is a critical skill for the future of leadership. If you need help becoming one, get in touch and we can begin coaching you to be the perfect host.

 

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