I know you are probably wondering why I am writing an article on a topic that is so plain and obvious and what a Virtual Organization has to do with it. After all, absent a series of unpreventable, unpredictable and unfortunate circumstances or force majeure event, there is absolutely no excuse for being late to any meeting regardless of the venue.
Well, you are partially correct. However, from a potential Collaborator and Virtual Organization Leadership Executive standpoint, That Is a Cardinal Sin.
Although there are at least dozens of reasons for this assertion based on empirical virtual organization management evidence gathered over a period of more than 25 years, let me give you just one primary reason:
In a virtual organization environment, what you do gets amplified a thousand-fold. Therefore, what you do matters much more than what you say.
Thus, being late for more than 30 seconds is the equivalent of saying out loud to the person you are scheduled to meet with that 1) this meeting doesn't rank that high on your list of priorities; 2) you don't really have that much respect and consideration for the person you're meeting with; 3) you'll get there when you get there; 4) it's entirely up to that person to decide whether or not to wait for you (i.e., you got nothing to lose); 5) you don't really care whether or not to inconvenience that person with respect to having to reschedule the meeting; and 6) in case that person decides not to wait, it's not that big a deal and you didn't really miss out on anything of value or importance to you.
So, with respect to each of the foregoing points, let me address them one by one:
Point #1. If it were a potentially life-changing meeting with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, President Vladimir Putin or the President of the United States, would you have made sure that you are at least 15-30 minutes early for that meeting? This is purely a rhetorical question since you already know that answer. My point is well-made.
Well, guess what? In a Virtual Organization environment, every single scheduled meeting MUST rank very high on your list of priorities; it doesn't matter if you are the President of the United States and your meeting is with an Intern. If it is not high on your list of priorities, then you should communicate only via email, social network, social media (e.g., Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, WeChat) or some virtual communication and collaboration platform.
Point #2. Regardless of the status of the person you are meeting with, you MUST treat everyone with the same amount of respect and consideration. (I know it's easier said than done.) Therefore, if you would make damn sure that you show up on time for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, then so should you for a meeting with a lowly Intern, some Candidate vying for a position, some Vendor making a sales presentation, or one of your Subordinates.
There are many virtual organization management reasons for that, however, I am unable to elaborate on them at this time since they fall outside the scope of this article.Point #3. Whether you are only running 30 seconds or 30 minutes late, by not being on time, you leave it up to the person you are meeting with To Guess BOTH the reason(s) why you are late and how long it might take for you to finally show up (assuming you are only running late and nothing serious happened to you); or to wonder whether or not you ever received the meeting invitation which includes the Virtual Organization Videoconference Protocols and detailed instructions on how to log into the video conference room.
It is the height of arrogance for you to presume, without advance notification to the person you are meeting with, that you are entitled to having someone wait for you for whatever period of time you deem reasonable (be it 30 seconds, one minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes or 10 minutes) prior to exiting the conference room. The old brick and mortar "I'll get there when I get there" mentality when someone either takes another person for granted or assumes that he is more important than the person he is scheduled to meet with.
Point #4. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words. It's obvious to that person you are scheduled to meet with that you don't really attach much importance to him; nor do you understand the value of this meeting; and that you could care less as to whether or not he waits for you or leaves. In essence, you are clearly communicating to this person that he has nil to none leverage or, at the very least, you don't quite understand or are not able to perceive what that person brings to the table.
Thus, you are placing that person in a position to ask himself this question: "How important is that meeting to me and how much do I stand to gain or lose by waiting or leaving?"
It's definitely not a good way to begin or maintain a good Collaborator relationship in a virtual organization environment.The bottom line: In a mere 30 seconds, you have managed to destroy or eliminate any possible chance or opportunity to Learn from, Partner or Collaborate with a Virtual Organization; an experience which could have turned out to be a game-changer for you for the rest of your life or for your organization.
Point #5. By putting that person in a position to try to reschedule that meeting, it is a clear indication that you don't take that person seriously. Not only that, you have also lost every bit of goodwill and respect that you may have accumulated from this person prior to your stupidity or display of arrogance. It's the first impression that counts. But this also means that you yourself have no self-respect.
Henceforth, your encounter and dealings with that person will be based solely on perceived power, leverage, strength, pragmatism and realpolitik - all of which are antithetical to Collaboration in a Virtual Organization environment. And should that person ever be in a position to humiliate you or display his own perceived power, strength and leverage, you are guaranteed to have a front row seat.
Point #6. The dismissive "It's not that big of a deal" mentality is for idiots who think they know what the future holds for them and can only see as far as the tip of their nose. Even if you were to assume that you do not stand to gain or accrue any immediate benefits or advantages from this meeting :: and viewed this encounter as an opportunity for that person to gain something from you, thus no big deal if you are late :: this viewpoint could cost you a great deal either now or in the future.
In what sense, you might ask?
Well, the truth of the matter is this: Regardless of what you may have read, heard or assumed about anyone on planet Earth, you don't really know a goddamn thing about that person until you've had a chance to sit down and speak with that person one-on-one and face-to-face - either in person or via videoconference. Even then, you would still be barely scratching the surface.
(By the way, although this sounds counter intuitive, you can learn much, much more about a person via videoconfererence - one of the best-kept secrets of the virtual organization management discipline.)Therefore, it's practically impossible for you to know in advance what the outcome of a meeting will be based on a person's Claim to Fame or Popularity Index Score. In fact, the more famous and the greater the popularity of the person you are scheduled to meet with, the less likely it is that this meeting will turn out to be favorable to you or mutually beneficial.
Why is that, you might say? Well, that's because those who bask in the Glory of Fame, Fortune and their Popularity Index Score thrive on the adulation and respect bestowed upon them by those who have the Star-Struck Parasite Mentality and feel blessed and privileged just to be in the presence of royalty and stardom.
They know that you want to meet with them only because you want something from them and thus expect you to come on bent knees groveling at their feet, hoping and praying to your god or genie that they grant you your wishes and requests. Thus, they naturally expect you to have sleepless nights waiting for the day to finally meet with them; and to be at least 30 minutes early for the conference. (In other words, they know You Have No Leverage, No Character and No Pride.) The best possible outcome of such meeting would be for you to be offered a Take It or Leave It deal, if any.
They understand full well human nature. They know damn well if they were your regular, middle-class or working class stiff, you would walk right past them and not even notice or greet them; and that if they were ever in need of anything or had an idea that they wanted to pitch to you and offer you a chance to Collaborate, you would either ignore them or walk right past them and not give them the time of day.
This Star-Struck Parasite Mentality makes you susceptible to--and a prime target for--charlatans, liars, thieves, con artists, snake oil salesmen, bling-bling flashers, human compromise operators, sycophants, parasites, leeches and downright scum bags who either know or sense that you are only attracted to and give respect to those who are in a position of power or have something to offer you.
Moreover, there is a residual and long-term aspect to being dismissive of someone that you perceive to be of no immediate use to you. Even if the person you so readily dismissed were now standing at the bottom of a ladder, that does not mean he will never be able to climb up that ladder. As well, just because you may be under the illusion or impression that you are now standing on top of the ladder does not mean that you will always remain there.
And last but not least, you never know who that person knows and how one word out of their mouth, good or bad, could alter the course of your life or organization.
That initial face-to-face videoconference is strictly the equivalent of hearing a knock on your door and getting up to look through the peephole (not to open the door) in order to see who it is. That's all it is!
(To digress a bit, think about this for one split second: I am sure that, once you hear a knock on your door and go look through the peephole, someone better be there and you are not going to wait for 30 seconds or 3 minutes for that person to show their face. Nor would you venture outside the door in order to see who it is that knocked on your door - that is, of course, unless you are adventurous and like to throw caution to the wind.)To continue, if the person looks suspicious, you can walk away from the door and not even bother to ask that person to identify himself. If nothing arouses your suspicion after viewing that person through the peephole, you can then proceed to ask that person to identify himself and state the purpose of their visit prior to opening the door.
If you get a satisfactory response, while you are still behind the door, you now have a decision to make: 1) you can either tell that person you are not interested and go back to whatever it is you were doing, or 2) you may go ahead and open up the door in order to hear more from that person. (You will notice that you still have not invited that person to come inside your house.)
Therefore, this "looking up through the peephole" process is necessary and the most crucial part of your journey. Thus, if you fail to at least get up and go look through the peephole (i.e., to attend that videoconference at the time prescribed) you will never know who - and what opportunity - was knocking on your door. As the old saying goes, opportunity knocks but once.
The bottom line: Collaboration in a Virtual Organization environment is only possible when there is mutual respect from all the parties and the projected outcome is mutually rewarding and beneficial. Otherwise, the best possible outcome is Cooperation and Exploitation.
The Moral of The Story
The bottom line: Learn how to treat every single person that you come across as if he or she were the most important and special person in the world. That is, of course, until their conduct or actions indicate otherwise and prove to be undeserving of such treatment. That's what I call, principled leadership in practice.
For Example: If I had a videoconference scheduled for 10:00 am PST with either Warren Buffett, the Queen of England or the President of the United States and I don't see him or her in the conference room when the clock strikes 10:00 AM, I would close the conference room within 30 seconds or less, immediately end the meeting, and log off. I wouldn't give a damn about how big is the potential opportunity and how much money is at stake.
That is the power of Principled Leadership and the Virtual Organization Management discipline.