Podcast episode #38

Improve your Coronability - virtual trust for teams

This crisis has wounded us. Not only on the outside. It's on the inside. The work as we know it is over. Our formerly harmonious "something will change" has arrived in the present. At a speed that makes any comfort impossible and unfortunately also leaves us hardly any choice as to which path we want to take. We have to.

Between remote work, distancing and mask duty, teams find themselves in a new normality. The ability of teams to master conflicts and crises and to develop new forms of cooperation, that is coronability.

The broken trust

One of the most important characteristics of high-performance teams is the high degree of intimacy and trust between these team members. They know themselves and their weaknesses and strengths, on a professional and emotional level. Outside of the stringent curriculum vitae, there are a dozen characteristics of your counterpart that shape him or her.

This transparency always leads to effective decision-making processes, because those who show emotions and make themselves vulnerable build up incredible power. Failure and success are mastered and celebrated together. Numbers and KPIs, the real indicators of performance, fade into the background in the course of this intimacy: the shared passion leads to a transparency that can also be transferred to virtual space. For where real-time interaction does not seem possible, it is imitated. Think of the important eye contact or body language during a meeting: small aspects of trust show our constant search for connection, interpersonal communication and time together.

Not every team is used to this cooperation. And that's what it should be about today: how do we put the challenges that remote work brings in a completely different light? Which hacks can we learn to animate the virtual space with real people? How can we create trusting environments to adapt to these completely new scenarios?

The ultimate Remote Work Tool Guide

There are various software tools, portals and services that facilitate collaboration

We want to see and hear each other, share the screen and maybe even work together in breakout rooms. Conferencing tools can do all this. A selection of providers:

  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Whereby (former. Appear.in)
  • Cisco Webex
  • Demodesk
Sometimes you need a quick link or reference to a document. Chat tools work time-delayed, answers can also come later. A selection of providers:

  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Discord
  • Whatsapp
The freedom to write, draw and distribute virtual post-its on a large whiteboard-flipchart-like surface with all participants at the same time is good for creative workshop units:

  • Whiteboard from Zoom
  • Figma.com
  • Mural
  • Miro
If thoughts in the group are to be collected in a more structured and focused way, for example in a retrospective, text-based tools are a good choice:

  • Google Docs
  • Lean Coffee Table
  • Fun Retro
  • Slack Channels
  • Microsoft Teams

But be careful! Patterns and behaviors are not easy to resolve with a large set of tools. They support teams, but they are far from defining their complex scope. Remote Work Tools should always be embedded in transition projects and should be viewed and accompanied holistically. It is not the technology that makes projects more efficient, but the people who use the technology and work together. As Harvard professor Andrew McAfee once aptly wrote in 2006

„It’s not not about Technology“

The key functions of technology follow people and the benefits assigned to them, never the other way around. When we adopt this principle for teams, we also admit to ourselves that we must always embed the tools and accompany them holistically. High performance teams are not dependent on the slack channel, but they know how to use it in the right moments without overtaxing processes.
The current crisis shows it: it is not the technology that makes projects more efficient, but the people who use the technology and work together.

The discussion on how work will change as a result of digitisation was first triggered by the Social Web in 2006. Since then, new work and organizational development have moved radically forward in their importance for companies. From the current perspective: we have never been so close to "Arbeit 4.0" (german term) as we are now.

Creating new trust - the coronability

Coronability, i.e. the ability of teams to master conflicts and crises and to develop new forms of cooperation, can be developed and trained. The most important keyword in my view is trust.

And it is true, of course, that when we show emotions and show ourselves as vulnerable, this can be exploited. But if we in turn return return the trust and give an insight into our emotional world, suddenly valuable respect and a connection develops which facilitates teamwork. At the management level, these behaviours and actions can set off major change processes. Shared failure and experience is not only limited to work projects with deadlines; coffee kitchens all over the world are places of exchange and community.

A very fitting diagram for the coronability of teams was provided by Stanley McChrystal in his work Team of Teams. The focus is on trust and the shared values of a team; adaptability is conditioned by understanding the context and empowerment of all team members. Because only when I know and am allowed to, do I participate. On the other hand, complexity is a constant challenge that can be mastered through speed and the transparency of dependencies. Very appropriate for the current crisis.


Hacks to increase team Coronability

But as CEO, how do I translate such an intimate coffee kitchen into virtual space and promote intimacy and relationship between my employees? We have developed a manifesto of virtual leadership from my years of expertise and the very latest virtual leadership seminars that I give together with my esteemed friend and colleague Frank Ostoff.

  • We recognize that leadership in virtual space is not about tools, but about people.
  • We make every effort to identify and promote the talents of our employees in virtual space.
  • We actively design the basics for mastering digital tools and encourage the desire to try them out and learn through play.
  • We respect the diversity of our employees and make sure that all voices are heard.
  • We know that mastering the technology is the basis for Remote Work Leadership and we set a good example.

Each of these statements can be translated into everyday, practical ToDo's - the chances in the implementation actually lie in the novelty of the environment: the comfort of the office has been abolished, how do we make ourselves comfortable now?
The question "How do we deal with this new discomfort?" can be a place for great creative opportunities

The above mentioned ToDo's and solutions are numerous and can be implemented completely differently, depending on the preferences and nature of the team. I would like to highlight some of them here. As a Scrum Master and Agile Coach for companies these exercises have proven themselves absolutely. The mission should always be to promote the intimacy and relationship level of the team members: Work performance and the strengthening of mutual trust are directly related. Numerous studies and surveys support and even reinforce this insight: even when other factors such as trust in management are taken into account, mutual trust within a team remains a robust characteristic for effective and goal-oriented work.


  • Regular check-ins at the beginning of meetings with questions about well-being train the ability to express emotions in a more complex way.
  • Ex. What made you smile for the first time today? What can you let go today to be all there?
  • Intimacy takes time and practice makes perfect.
  • Interest or astonishment for a certain behaviour of a colleague should be expressed openly.
  • For example, if your colleague seems to be too secretive, let yourself think aloud (and respectfully) about the reason in his presence.
  • Practising to speak more openly also trains the ability to express emotions in a more complex way.
  • To build real trust, you should not expect all your colleagues to meet your intimacy needs.
  • Instead, maintain the connection by taking a sincere interest in the world of your colleagues
  • A voluntary mentoring program (fulfilling common tasks in a team) can increase this natural strengthening of trust.
  • Exercise for two: each listens to the other for 10 minutes while answering a question. Without interrupting, asking questions or showing sympathy - except the undivided attention.
  • This leads to a shift in emphasis, the partner can talk freely without looking directly and waiting for the answer.
  • Because the direct look can be intimate - but also discouraging, especially for people who struggle with opening. Deep Listening works great on walks and car rides, with some time side by side.