Technology and Leadership: Benefit or Burden?
We live in amazing times. I am a business owner and leadership consultant and the other day, I performed open heart surgery. How is this even possible (legal), you might ask?
Technology. It has changed the way that we do business, the way that we learn, socialize, work together, advance (like practicing medicine!) and even the way that we lead. Leaders in today’s world must learn how to best utilize technology in their training and operations to enhance their teams. It can be an immensely powerful tool that enables communication and innovation, or it can be an incessant distraction that inhibits team cohesion. Knowing this and that technology will only continue to impact our lives in the future, it is important to consider how to capitalize on it for the good of individuals and groups.
One potential positive is to use Virtual Reality in leadership development. Imagine being able to put your team through virtual simulations or role plays that mirrored the real life challenges that they might face as a part of their onboarding process. These programs would be challenging, build skills, measure achievement, and relate directly to your field. All of this with very little human resources involved.
Okay, so maybe I didn’t actually perform open heart surgery, but just as I described a simulation above for leadership development, it certainly looked and felt like I did! Virtual reality allowed me to experience this feat and witness how immersive and impressive this technology has become. I envision it’s infinite potential in leadership training and find myself looking forward to these applications in the not so distant future.
Technology as a Benefit
Technology has advanced rapidly, allowing us near limitless access to all kinds of information and applications. This immense scale acts as an instant gold mine of resources for leaders looking to take their groups to the next level of personal development and teambuilding. The wonders of the internet alone have revolutionized the way that we can connect to one another, allowing us to gather and spread information instantly. This information can be extremely helpful to groups when doing research, setting strategies, or planning details. The opportunity to communicate with others around the world has created a global sense of connectivity. In many ways, it has redefined traditional communities and groups. Today, we see many more virtual work teams, community work spaces, and people who work remotely or from home. This has revolutionized communicating a message or making sure your group is able to stay aligned, even from a distance.
Technology as a Burden
While there are plenty of benefits to using technology, there are also some challenges that come with being plugged in. Technology becomes a burden when it is a distraction that interrupts the present experience of the individuals in your group. These distractions can be in the form of social media, games, apps, an overload of information, the 24 hour news cycle, and so much more. This can make your job as a leader difficult when you have to compete with those distractions in order to reach your audience.
What is a leader to do?
Technology can present some amazing opportunities to learn, grow, and engage your group, but at the same time, could also cause the group to participate less or not have any stake in a project or activity. It is us as leaders who determine whether technology will be a valuable asset or a constant threat. If we view technology as the enemy, then it will be. If we use it to augment, support, and improve groups, then it can be an advantage to team development and growth. Here are some ways to get started:
- Determine what technology means to you and your group. Agree on the applications or tools that you would like to use for communicating, planning, and collaborating. Discuss their utility to your team and how you would like to best integrate them into your operations.
Refer to this Leadership Lesson for a model that can be used as a framework to explore how technology relates and affects the results, process, and relationships within your group.
- Remember your audience. There are three distinct generations currently in the workforce – Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Digital Natives. Recognize that there may be a gap in preference and skill between team members who are Digital Natives, those who have never known the world without technology, and Baby Boomers. Make sure to provide the proper training and support so that all members of your group will need to be successful (Step One will help with this!).
Refer to our blog on Generations for some useful tools to manage this process.
- Have fun! The possibilities are endless when we think of the ways that we can apply technology in leadership development. Explore the benefits and potential pitfalls of each of these below and choose ones that will help you and your team build relationships, streamline your processes, and achieve your goals.
- Apps – There are literally apps for everything from planning and communication to collaboration, productivity, or brainstorming.
- Social Media – Can elevate the voice, presence, and network of your team and your vision.
- Online learning/ resources – The best minds around the world have put their knowledge online in the form of databases, online courses, workbooks, and webinars.
Check out our website: www.leadershipinspirations.com to access a free activities database and more blogs!
- And of course, even Virtual Reality applications – This very well might be the next big thing in leadership development!
*Meet the Author*
Joe Pazmany works with Leadership Inspirations developing training methods and experiential content while he completes research for his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.