Deutsche Telekom - The Future of Virtual Leadership

Represented in almost 50 countries worldwide with nearly 143 million mobile customers and over half of its 60.1 billion Euro revenue generated outside of its home country, Deutsche Telekom is a global telecommunications powerhouse that is paving the way towards the future of virtual leadership.

Together with Virtual Leadership Expert Ghislaine Caulat and her vanguard team at Black Gazelle Consulting, Deutsche Telekom invited an exclusive brain trust of Vice Presidents, Department Heads, and Division Managers to participate in a three-day intensive Virtual Leadership Program conducted remotely across the European continent. The objective was to help these already established leaders to become more focused, effective and impactful influencers when working virtually amongst their teams and throughout their industry.

ADVANCED PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE

“It was good to meet virtually in order to start thinking and doing things differently,” explained one program participant. “The information was extremely valuable as it allowed me to reflect on my behavior and understand what works and what doesn’t work in the virtual sphere. To this day, our group continues to meet over WebEx Conferencing to discuss best practices and share our experiences. Even one year after the program, I continue to learn from the techniques and scenarios we discuss.”

Based on one-on-one interviews conducted before the workshop took place, a customized curriculum was designed for the leadership group to fulfill their specific needs. Themes that emerged during the interviews that were then further examined throughout the virtual workshop included:

LEADING EFFECTIVE VIRTUAL MEETINGS

• How to develop a shared understanding of discussion outcomes and plans

• How to avoid misunderstandings

• Guidelines to become more effective virtual leaders during teleconferences and web meetings

• How to motivate people so they work according to budget and schedule

• Technological best practices (email, teleconferencing, WebEx, etc.)

REACHING YOUR POTENTIAL AS A VIRTUAL LEADER

• Working constructively with varying levels of English language proficiency and across different times zones and cultures

• How to build long-term relationships in the virtual space

• Developing and maintaining trust – in particular when you have not met face-to-face

• Setting expectations in an effective way

• How to best give recognition

THE POWER OF NEW TOOLS

Some Virtual Leaders discovered new techniques they weren’t initially expecting to encounter during the program. One participant located at the Deutsche Telekom headquarters in Bonn, Germany realized that the art of silence could be a surprisingly powerful tool to invigorate conversation and discussion during a virtual meeting.

“I have quite a lot of conference calls, and especially in my team, there is a mix of experts and team leaders. We don't normally come together face to face, and so usually I deliver information from a top down approach. But my real intention is to have a discussion about the information because I am looking for feedback.”

“Very often there is this silence that causes me to react out of nervousness,” he continued. “I’ll step in and move on to another point or just keep talking to fill the silence, but then no one contributes or says anything. I learned from the Virtual Leadership Program to handle these silences in a more constructive way and not to get nervous after just five seconds. I have been more effective with silence since the program, and my team is contributing much more than in the past. Now I wait longer than five seconds, and I don't feel bad.”

THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE THE BEST

Particularly for those leaders who are managing teams from a virtual point of view, this program received a five-star rating from participants at Deutsche Telekom. Provided with a wealth of valuable information, the leaders continue to refine their application of the myriad techniques and tools that are designed to optimize their virtual leadership strategy.

“Even if you think you know how to do everything, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to improve your skills,” asserted one program participant. “In regards to all of the programs which I have done already, the Virtual Leadership Program was one of the best. Good atmosphere. Very focused. Exceptionally customer-oriented. I know firsthand for myself as well as from the other program participants that Black Gazelle has really helped us become the best virtual leaders we can possibly be.”


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