In this edition, Livio considers some of the basic steps that leaders need to take to improve their visibility and credibility using digital workplace platforms.

Friends reunited

Last week, we invited our friend Katharina Krentz to introduce a selected management audience to some digital ways of collaborating and leading across diverse online networks, which she has been promoting both at Bosch and elsewhere.

It was very interesting to hear about Bosch’s ambition to reinvent itself as an AIOT company and the various strands of work currently being undertaken there to achieve this – including the evolution of its Agile Transformation program, which we helped to develop a few years ago – against the background of all the changes occurring in its key markets, including the electrification of mobility and the forced move to hybrid working in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, this recent post by Pim de Morree at Corporate Rebels, focussing on the Bosch Power Tools division’s journey, is a great start.

Who are you?

In her talk, Katha emphasised the need for leaders to develop trust online as a key building block for all of their team-based activities, offering attendees some tips on how to do this.

Central to these was the simple, but still vastly overlooked, act of ensuring that our online profiles accurately reflect who we are, and how we wish to be seen by the teams we lead. It was remarkable to see how many managers had not given this much thought, despite an increasing part of our working and social lives being spent – or at least mediated – on online social platforms.

The amount of time and effort that many people put into curating their online profiles on consumer social platforms stands in stark contrast to the barely-there profiles still plaguing the digital workplace. You only need to glance through these 77 Online Reputation Statistics for 2021 from Status Labs to understand how wide the chasm between public-facing and internal social networks really is.

Many corporate profiles are still just made up of the basic name, role, org chart and contact data inherited from corporate identity management systems and any attempt at improving this in any semi-automated way are often hampered by the disconnect between HR and IT, or screened by excessive interpretations of privacy at work laws.

This is a long-standing challenge, which has little to do with technology and much more to do with low levels of employee engagement, as this IBM report suggests, and a lack of leadership understanding of the importance of workplace social networking as an engine of trust.

Get real

All of this has been brought into sharp focus by the move to remote or hybrid working, which the Economist believes will remain a defining feature of the workplace [free registration required] for years to come, with its associated impacts on online team working and leadership. There is now an acute need for leaders – especially senior ones, many of whom have hitherto delegated online orchestration to their reports – to become much more visible and credible across digital workplace platforms.

In addition to curating their online personae, leaders need to pay a lot more attention to the basics of online presence and communication, which must now be regarded as a key part of their role. It is no longer charming – or excusable – to watch senior leaders fumble with Teams or Zoom controls, forget or refuse to switch on the video cam, fiddle with mic settings, or thump-type through meetings. Many senior leaders have in the past received public speaking or media training, so it is high time for them to take digital workplace platforms just as seriously and act accordingly – or risk losing the respect of their more digitally savvy colleagues.

Beyond expecting leaders to master these basics, learning some online techniques to increase visibility, dialogue and online trust building should also become core to leadership development programmes and be taught alongside traditional ‘management’ content. Coaching leaders in Working Out Loud, or how to manage online Ask Me Anything sessions, will deliver bigger dividends than have them read scripts in video-conference town halls or professionally-produced prerecorded video announcements.