Shift Perspectives

Virtual Fishbowl!

LEADERSHIP… and the Virtual Fishbowl!

Jun 1, 2021

  • By Moe Poirier and

The fishbowl. You know it. The one that leaders live in. The one where a 360 degree view of a leader’s actions is on full display.

That fishbowl has gone virtual without much warning.

The new normal of remote work is settling in. It’s worth taking a closer look at how leaders are showing up in the virtual fishbowl that many are feeling stuck in. 

How would you say the leaders in your organization are performing in the most obvious of fishbowl scenarios —  virtual meetings, town halls, and even 1:1s? 

What we’re seeing as we observe leaders is a mixed bag. In some cases, it’s inspiring and vibrant. In other cases, it’s disconnected and dull.

From CEOs to Supervisors, here’s the best of the inspiring virtual leadership trends we’ve been noticing.

Purposeful Use of Cameras

  • The camera on/off debate has been replaced by a conversation about purpose. Inspiring virtual leaders are engaging their teams openly and working through the what, when, why, and how of the power of cameras for presence, visibility, social connections, and energy.

Smarter Meetings

  • No one wants to be stuck in a perpetual loop of gallery view and slides. Inspiring virtual leaders are experimenting with creative ways to make their online interactions more engaging. Blank slides and formatted spreadsheets are now the virtual equivalent of flipcharts and markers. 

Time to Connect

  • The informal watercooler chats and spontaneous lunch dates are being re-imagined. And there’s more deliberate “social” time being set aside in team meetings. Inspiring virtual leaders recognize that regular maintenance on their individual and team relationships is worth the effort.

Focused on the Needs at Hand

  • Not looking back, hoping to return to what we had at the office. Nor looking too far forward, immobilized by uncertainty. Inspiring virtual leaders are focused on what their people need to stay present and productive. Reminding themselves and others of what is within their control, and encouraging experimentation.

In the virtual meetings, town halls, and 1:1s we’ve observed, there’s no doubt that the virtual fishbowl requires some adjustments. However, the encouraging news is that the primary success factors for leadership are grounded in truths that have been understood for decades.

Inspiring virtual leaders are finding ways to stay visible and stay connected. And, more strategically, they’re consciously setting norms and expectations that shape the culture of their teams and their organizations.

What examples and stories of inspiring leadership have you been witnessing in the virtual fishbowl? What direct and indirect impacts are your leaders having on your virtual culture?


The team at Shift is on a mission to help leaders develop the skill sets necessary to develop a healthy and vibrant virtual culture for their teams and organizations.

Talk to us today about our Virtual Skills for Leaders & Teams program offering, and the suite of coaching and training tools we can customize and deliver.

About The Authors:
  • Moe Poirier is the Founding Partner of Shift Facilitation. For over 20 years, he has honed his craft as a leadership development specialist and expert facilitator and coach. He is on a mission to have leaders and teams reimagine how they create value and collaborate virtually.