Leadership in the Digital AgeNov 07, 2017
How can we be better role models in a world of technology?
Have you ever felt let down after organising a meeting where, of all those attendees that accepted or tentatively accepted, only a handful showed up? Or perhaps been in a discussion where individuals were constantly being distracted on their phone. Or maybe at home you struggle to get your kids (or other halves) to stop playing games on their latest gadget?!
We are currently in an era where technology can be as much a disabler as an enabler, disrupting our ability to communicate and connect with others effectively and efficiently. Our email inbox has become a list of everyone else's agendas. Indeed email is sometimes used as a means of avoiding face to face conversation, or as a way of passing responsibility for a task without even checking the recipient has received or understood the instruction. Our homes have become surrounded with technology gadgets. Children are growing up learning how to use devices faster than their parents. Sometimes it's even difficult to prise our family away from their iPad or iPhone to have a simple conversation! Taking time away from technology to relax and rejuvenate is becoming more difficult. In the not too distant future technology or digital detox clinics will start to become the norm.
So what can we do about it? How can we act as better leaders in the digital age from a holistic perspective, role modelling appropriate behaviour for those that we lead and mentor? Here are three simple steps to help you do that:
Step 1 - Get in their shoes
Before you send that abrasive email, write that piece of feedback, reply to a meeting invitation that you know you won't attend, or pick up your phone to answer a call when you are in mid conversation, STOP. Stop and ask yourself - would I be ok with that if I were on the receiving end? Would I be ok receiving feedback by email rather than face to face? Would I be ok if someone else interrupted me mid conversation and answered their phone? How would I feel if someone did that to me? How would I perceive that person if they did that to me? Would I treat them with respect? Sometimes it's so easy to be focused on our own self that we forget to connect with the feelings that we impart on others. Empathise. Get connected. Get in their shoes.
Step 2 - Be present
If you are in a meeting, having a conversation or undertaking a task, be present for the entire time. Remove any technology distractions that take you away from the present moment. If you're doing a piece of work on your computer, close down your email to avoid checking it. If you're having a conversation, put your phone face down, turn it off. Turn the TV off. Focus on the task in hand. Be present with the person you're talking too. This includes your children, your family and friends. Time is short - make the moments count. Be present.
Step 3 - Lead by example
If you call yourself a leader, then lead by example. Don't become the leader that no one wants to be. Don't become the leader that no one can rely on, that is always letting others down as they can't manage their inbox or calendar. Lead by getting in the other persons shoes. Lead by being fully present. Lead by connecting with those that you are leading, whether at work or at home. Prioritise connecting with individuals face to face. Make time for people. Create that distinction between work time and family time. Know when to turn technology off. Lead by the company values that you represent and most importantly by your own values. Be congruent with yourself. Never act in the capacity of do as I say, not as I do. Be that person that people look up to. Be the role model.
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