Deutsche Telekom - Pioneers of the Virtual Frontier

Like the brave pioneers who came before us, Virtual Leaders at Deutsche Telekom are forging a new frontier of 21st century communication. Employing a global workforce of nearly 230,000 professionals, virtual interfacing has become an essential tool of the German telecommunications conglomerate. With every remotely conducted encounter, leading edge practices and protocols are being redefined that impact the productivity and profit of the worldwide corporation.

Realizing early on the importance of cultivating an exceptional team of Virtual Leaders, Deutsche Telekom appointed Black Gazelle Consulting to educate and train a select group of top-level project managers to become more effective, high-performance innovators with the skills to galvanize their teams across the virtual landscape. After the three-day course was completed, participants gained practical experience based on direct feedback from their peers as well as from Ghislaine Caulat, the Virtual Leadership Program Facilitator and Founding Director of Black Gazelle Consulting.

THE BIGGEST VOICE TAKES THE LEAD

The participants agreed that the unique and engaging program created an acute awareness of how their communication style directly influenced the success of their virtual interactions. More specifically, they discovered the power of their own voice.

“There were exercises where the other participants observed my speech during a simulated virtual meeting,” shared one participant. “In face-to-face meetings, people can read your body language, so they create an idea of what you might be thinking even when you say nothing. But virtually, no one can see you. Silence leaves room for misinterpretation.”

“I learned that your voice is extremely important,” he continued. “When you agree or even disagree with something, it's good to explicitly say what you are thinking. This way your team knows you are paying attention, you listen and understand, and most importantly, that you have an opinion. Since the training program, I’ve gained noticeable respect as a leader from my virtual team.”

BRIDGING CULTURAL GAPS

One participant discovered the value of personal exchange to bridge cultural gaps. His core team in Germany interfaces regularly with a group located in Hungary. Prior to the course with Black Gazelle, both teams struggled to effectively prioritize and complete collaborative tasks. “One would think that because we are all Europeans, we would get along from the beginning. Instead, we seemed to have some cultural or interpersonal misunderstandings that kept us from moving forward to reach our goals. The program clarified the importance of personal interaction that goes beyond simply completing project tasks. Now my virtual team spends the first few minutes of each meeting reconnecting on a more personal level in something called the virtual coffee break. It really helps the people on our team get to know one another, and more importantly, it enables us to start the meeting on time. This small exchange has greatly increased our ability to collaborate and come up with viable solutions. Overall, we’re a much more accepting, more efficient group.”

BETTER STRUCTURED FOR EFFICIENCY

Another project manager who took part in the Virtual Leadership Program from his Budapest office found the course helped him become more structured for increased efficiency. Sending out meeting reminders the day before and implementing techniques for more effective communication has led to greater success.

“Our whole set up is a virtual organization, so while I'm working from Hungary for the German Headquarters, most of my team is in Bonn, Germany. There is one colleague in Madrid, another in Paris, and our customers are all across the globe. We are all very busy handling a variety of responsibilities that sometimes cause members to join the meeting late or forget about the meeting altogether, which can be very disruptive for our productivity. It seems quite obvious, but I learned how important it is to remind the team about the details of upcoming meetings including our agenda and objectives. Now everyone arrives on time and participants are better prepared to contribute their feedback.”

“I’ve also learned different negotiation techniques that allow me to direct and moderate the conversation through specific, intentionally formulated questions and answers,” he continued. “I would say there are specific cases where these are extremely good tools. I can now solve problems with less confrontation, and I feel more effective as a leader.”

THE INDUSTRY’S NEWEST MOVERS AND SHAKERS

With the help of Black Gazelle Consulting, project managers at Deutsche Telekom have become the industry’s newest movers and shakers. They are taking full ownership over the positive results of their virtually managed projects prepared with the tools and expertise to lead, collaborate, and influence their team across virtual space and time.

“For sure it makes sense to do this program not just once but several times,” stated one enthusiastic program participant. “Then I can realize the improvements I’ve implemented since the first time I completed the program as well as identify one or two new things I can focus on in the future. Ghislaine and her team did a great job. It was a really good training.”


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