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8 Questions To Test Your Leadership Qualities

8 Questions To Test Your Leadership Qualities
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Being a follower is easy. You just have to do what you’re told to the best of your ability and stick to the status quo. Being a leader is a much more difficult task. You have to think outside the box to solve problems, and push yourself to your absolute limits. Some people are born leaders, as they’re never happy with just being “good enough,” and will always look for ways to improve themselves and everyone around them. If you can honestly answer these questions in the affirmative, you should consider yourself a driving force for humanity. And be proud of it!

1. Do you go above and beyond?

Like I said, followers are happy doing exactly what they need to do and nothing more. Leaders, on the other hand, push themselves as far as they can, regardless of whether they truly need to or not. Back in school these people were the “go-getters” that spent their time perfecting their projects while everyone else was happy doing just enough to receive a passing grade. A good leader is the reason an organization will not only succeed, but will absolutely flourish.

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2. Are you optimistic?

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This isn’t to say that followers are necessarily pessimistic, but they also don’t share the same optimism as leaders have. Followers often only perform “good enough” because they are unsure of whether or not they actually can do better. Leaders know for a fact they can always improve their abilities and skills, and they know others can do so as well. Not only do leaders push themselves farther, but they also hold their colleagues to a higher standard.

3. Are you open to change?

You would think that followers, by nature, would be easily adaptable to change. However, they often are adverse to any deviation from the norm, opting rather to do things “as they’ve always been done.” Leaders feel free to steer in whichever direction will lead them to the most beneficial outcome. This may include charting unfamiliar waters, but leaders are comfortable and confident in their ability to do so. As country music legend Jimmy Dean believed, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

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4. Are you decisive?

Of course, as leaders are open to contingencies occurring on the fly, they also have no problem making decisions and sticking to them. Followers are often stuck in the “what if” stage of contemplation, which blocks them from ever actually making a move to further themselves. Leaders know that, regardless of the decision they make, both positive and negative outcomes may occur. But they’ll also be able to navigate through any bad situation they face, as they’ve anticipated it from the get-go

5. Are you accountable?

One of the main reasons followers are so indecisive is they don’t want to be blamed if something bad happens. Leaders will never shift the blame to their colleagues or team. But they also won’t shut down when they make a decision that turns out to be the wrong one. They’re okay with failing, because they learn from their failures in order to better handle similar situations that arise in the future. Followers who blame everyone else for their own shortcomings will continue to make the same mistakes time and time again.

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6. Are you passionate?

Followers are just along for the ride. They aren’t really bothered by the job, and don’t care whether they do well or not. Leaders put enormous amounts of effort into everything they do in life. They perform even the simplest tasks with precision and care, because they know even small tasks add up to have a huge effect on this world. They take pride in their work, and are careful not to waste the gift they were given.

7. Are you intrinsically motivated?

Bob Dylan once said, “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” Followers might try to rationalize this and say, “Easy for him to say, he’s a millionaire.” But he wasn’t always rich. He became rich by doing exactly what he wanted to do, and putting every ounce of his energy into being the absolute best he could be. Leaders don’t follow money. They follow their passion, and are rewarded by being great at what they do. Ironically, the richest people in the world, more often than not, make money follow them rather than the other way around.

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8. Are you willing to learn?

It’s a sad truth that many people graduate high school thinking they’ll never have to open a book ever again. Like I said, followers are just along for the ride. Leaders are life-long learners, who feel like a day without reading or trying something new is a waste of 24 hours. Many followers think they know all they’ll need to know in life to survive; leaders understand there’s an infinite amount of knowledge in this universe, and it’s impossible to know too much. That doesn’t stop them from trying, though.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm2.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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