fire alarmBy Kevin Eikenberry

Do you react or respond to employees? There is a big difference between the two. When you react, you become defensive in reaction to something that is upsetting, surprising or frustrating. You don’t think and instead make your decision based on your emotions in the moment.

When you respond, you are more thoughtful. You gather information, process that information and make the best decision based on that information.

As a virtual leader, it is very easy to react to problems. Because you have so much distance between you and your staff, you don’t always take the time to gather all the details. However, because communication is more difficult, email messages can be misinterpreted and collaboration isn’t instantaneous like it is in an office setting, you need to spend some time gathering details so that you can respond appropriately. Follow these steps:

  1. Think big picture. When you think about how this specific situation fits into your overall goals and objectives it will be easier to respond.
  2. Put the situation in context. Always consider the context – what is happening and how the next step will best serve you, the organization and everyone involved.
  3. Blend logic and emotion. The best decisions are both informed by facts and infused with emotion. The goal isn’t to deny your emotions, but to balance those immediate emotional responses with thoughts and facts to fill in the blanks.
  4. Ask yourself the key reaction question. The key question is: Am I reacting? Simply asking yourself that question can ground you and give you a quick mental break to perhaps choose a different approach.
  5. Recognize choices. Often reacting comes when you don’t know or think you don’t have any other option. When you realize that you always have choices, you can remember to consider them and the consequences they bring before moving forward.
  6. Create 20/20 vision. You know hindsight is 20/20. Your goal in the moment is to mentally move yourself into the future and look back with imagined 20/20 vision to determine your best response to the current situation.

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