The Role of Technology in Collaborative Leadership

I travel quite a bit in my role here at PGi. I’m regularly meeting with investors, our board of directors, current and potential customers and even PGi associates in any of our offices around the globe. I’m passionate about what I do but I miss my beautiful family, my daughters and my wife, dearly while I’m away.

There’s also significant impact on my professional life as well. In addition to my responsibilities in areas like Investor Relations and M&A, I also directly manage a team responsible for a large portion of the communications strategy for PGi. At my core, I am a collaborator; one of the highlights of my week is my team’s weekly status meeting, where we all gather together to share ideas, swap weekend stories and grow and learn together.

Thankfully, technology not only lessens the sting of distance from my family, but it also empowers me and my team to stay connected and collaborative while I’m traveling. It gives me the freedom to lead, guide and mentor my team regardless of where I am in the world. Without it, the leadership aspect of my responsibilities would undoubtedly suffer.

Staying Collaborative

We run a collaborative organization at PGi, and my team relies on me to participate regularly. I’m lucky enough to have a team I can trust to the day-to-day without excessive micromanaging, but there are simply times when my input is required to move things along. Mobility is a huge factor in today’s business climate, and it’s the primary way we stay connected while on-the-go. Thanks to my smartphone, my team can trust that unless I’m completely off-the-grid (which, where is that exactly nowadays?), they’ll at least get an email response from me in a timely fashion. This is vital to maintaining communication, reliability and trust.

Thankfully, collaboration is a two-way street and I often rely on my team while I’m on-the-go as much as they rely on me. For example, if I’m giving a presentation from iMeet® while traveling, my team members can help update my materials and slide decks by dropping the files directly into my iMeet room, whether I’m there or not. This gives me the confidence that my materials are up to date and ready to go.

Leading from Afar

Collaboration is one thing; our tools and technology have made it effortless to stay communicative and connected from anywhere. Truly leading from afar? That presents new challenges.

Mentorship and guidance are built on trust, and trust is difficult to build and maintain if you’re not available. I keep my door open as much as possible, but if I’m not actually on the other side of it, who does my team turn to for advice?

Again, we turn to technology. A tool like iMeet provides a personal interface and high-definition webcam streaming, truly making it feel comfortable and real. I can really see my team, and they can see me. I can see the smiles of excitement or the looks of concern. I can respond truthfully and humanly, hopefully inspiring confidence and giving much-needed direction.

That, to me, is what collaborative leadership is all about: working with those around you to inspire them to grow and become better. And distance does not have to affect that one bit.

Technology has transformed business collaboration for leaders and employees. To learn more, download PGi’s free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration” today.

About Sean O'Brien

Sean O’Brien is PGi’s Chief Administrative Officer. He oversees the company’s Legal, HR and Program Management organizations and manages Corporate Development, M&A and Acquisition Integration. In addition, Mr. O’Brien leads Corporate Strategy, Executive Communications and Global Facilities Management.

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