The only way to be an effective leader is to constantly challenge yourself to improve. Regardless of your title or industry, true leaders are constantly evolving and learning, adapting to new expectations, new models of thinking and new faces.
As business leaders, technology has added yet another layer of complexity. By redefining the workforce, reimagining ways to get work done and reinventing collaboration, technology has cemented its place as a cornerstone of all businesses. And the business leaders of today and tomorrow have to challenge themselves to navigate the new business technology landscape.
A Mobile Workforce Means Leading from Afar
I like to be hands-on with my executive and product teams. I like to swing by, see what they’re working on or huddle around a conference table or whiteboard and tackle a problem together.
Yet the mobile workforce is on the rise, estimated to reach 1.5 billion by 2015. How do down-in-the-trenches leaders maintain these relationships with an increasingly distributed workforce?
Technology is only part of the answer—email, IM and high quality web conferencing solutions can keep you in touch with remote workers, but the real truth goes deeper than this. To collaborate through technology requires a commitment from both parties to learning and utilizing these new tools to the fullest. Yes, technology can connect us, but it can also strip relationships of their warmth and productivity.
Meet on video. Ask your mobile direct reports about their weekends or the big game and really get to know them. Collaborate in real-time on shared documents and capture that spirit of huddling around the whiteboard. Collaboration is possible through technology, but it’s up to all of us to bring its potential to life.
Make it a Point to Unplug
A common fear of our increasingly connected workplace is the fear of 24×7 availability becoming the standard. After all, our work doesn’t live at the office anymore; our emails come to our smartphones, we can host meeting on our tablets or collaborate on documents anywhere, anytime.
While a time may come when that 2 am email has to be answered, that sort of availability simply isn’t sustainable. It’s a quick way to stress your employees straight to burn-out. As difficult as it can be, it’s important for leaders to set the example of unplugging. If you’re constantly bombarding your teams with late-night responses, they may feel the expectation that they have to do the same.
And especially be sure to make the most of your time off; if your workers see you constantly engaging while on vacation, they may assume they’re required to do the same. Take the time to recharge and make sure your team does as well. Everyone’s productivity will be better for it.
I want to hear from you—how has technology impacted you as a leader, or impacted the leaders in your organization? Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn and continue the conversation.