Leading through technology

We began this course just 8 short weeks ago assessing the flat spots and spiky peaks of the world.  A world transformed by technology and innovation resulting in rapid globalization and infinite connectivity.   As humans, we have transformed from citizens to netizens, ever-reliant on the web for networking, resources, education and social connectivity.  By 2015, 60 trillion pages were added to the WWW and today more than 80 million blogs are posted each day…with an estimated world population of 7.1 billion, that equates to 1 blog per 89 netizens (Kelly, 2016).  The digital age has no doubt changed the landscape we operate and live in, but also the landscape we lead in.

Despite its challenges with security, privacy, controlling the narrative and fake news, technology can be seen as the answer to many leadership challenges.  With studies abound on leadership behaviors, styles, models, and theories, technology is reshaping what we value in leadership and as leaders we are charged with reacting to this change.  In many ways, I can relate to Martin’s leadership assessment.  ‘Being the hero’ is nearly impossible and quite exhausting, particularly in a hyper-connected world.  Within my unit, I strive to push the decision making to the lowest level.  I focus on organizing and equipping (through manpower and resources) the unit to succeed without me at the helm dictating every turn.  I do not accept “this is how we have always done it” when there are better, faster and more innovative ways, particularly through technology, for us to operate.  This is how I assess if I am doing things right or doing the right things.

In concert with Martin’s post, both Jarche (2016) and Newman (2018) believe digital technology in a networked workplace perpetuates autonomy and decreases the need for the traditional “leader.”  Autonomy provides flexibility and fluidity and enhances diversity by allowing workers to operate across multiple teams at once.  The generation we lead craves autonomy, flexibility, and individualized thinking.  Through technology we, as leaders, can and must feed this craving to build trust and foster critical thinking while enhancing job satisfaction and workplace engagement.  Technology also enhances the ability to incorporate diversity in thinking by keeping us connected throughout the world.  Think about where we all are and how we have come together.  Finally, earlier in this course, we reviewed the “Future Work Skills of 2020”: sense making, social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, cross cultural competency, computational thinking, and new media literacy.  The year 2020 is just around the corner, if we are not leading in a way that advances these skills, we are already behind the power curve.  As we continue to navigate the changing valleys and peaks of the digital world, we as leaders must embrace the digital age and lead through technology to empower, adapt, and continually flatten our landscape.

Jarche, H. (2013). Networks are the new companies [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2013/11/networks-are-the-new-companies/

Jarche, H. (2016, December 8). Closing the learning-knowledge loop. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2016/12/closing-the-learning-knowledge-loop/

Kelly, K. (2016). The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Newman, D. (2018, September 26). Modern digital workplace: 5 current trends making waves in the office. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2018/09/26/modern-digital-workplace-5-current-trends-making-waves-in-the-office/#10f760e76d95

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4 thoughts on “Leading through technology

  1. Nice post…and I can definitely see how military units could buy in to Margaret Wheatley’s move from hero to host. As she noted in https://www.margaretwheatley.com/articles/Leadership-in-Age-of-Complexity.pdf

    “Heroic 
leadership 
rests 
on 
the 
illusion 
that 
someone 
can 
be 
in 
control.
 Yet 
we 
live 
in
 a
 world 
of 
complex 
systems 
whose 
very 
existence 
means 
they 
are 
inherently uncontrollable. 
No 
one 
is 
in 
charge 
of 
our 
food
 systems.
 No 
one 
is 
in 
charge 
of 
our
 schools. 
No 
one 
is 
in 
charge 
of 
the 
environment. 

No 
one 
is 
in 
charge 
of 
national
 security. 

No 
one 
is 
in 
charge! 

These 
systems 
are 
emergent 
phenomena — the
 result 
of
 thousands 
of 
small, 
local 
actions 
that 
converged 
to
 create 
powerful 
systems 
with
 properties 
that 
may 
bear 
little 
or 
no 
resemblance 
to 
the 
smaller 
actions 
that 
gave 
rise 
to
 them. 
These 
are 
the 
systems 
that 
now 
dominate 
our 
lives; 
they 
cannot 
be 
changed 
by working 
backwards, 
focusing 
on 
only 
a 
few 
simple 
causes. 

And
 certainly 
they 
cannot 
be 
changed 
by 
the 
boldest 
visions 
of 
our 
most
 heroic
 leaders.


    If 
we 
want 
to 
be 
able 
to
 get 
these 
complex 
systems 
to 
work 
better, 
we 
need 
to 
abandon our 
reliance 
on 
the 
leader‐as‐hero 
and 
invite 
in 
the 
leader‐as‐host.
 We
 need 
to 
support
 those 
leaders 
who 
know
 that 
problems 
are 
complex, 
who 
know 
that 
in 
order 
to understand 
the 
full 
complexity 
of 
any 
issue,
 all
 parts 
of 

the 
system 
need 
to 
be 
invited
 in to 
participate and 
contribute.
 
We,
 as 
followers, 
need 
to 
give 
our
 leaders 
time,
 patience, forgiveness;
 and 
we 
need 
to 
be 
willing 
to 
step 
up 
and 
contribute.”

    Like

  2. I liked what you stated, Through technology we, as leaders, can and must feed this craving to build trust and foster critical thinking while enhancing job satisfaction and workplace engagement. Technology also enhances the ability to incorporate diversity in thinking by keeping us connected throughout the world. Think about where we all are and how we have come together. I think about us doing these blogs. I never thought I’d have a blog but truly enjoyed it more than writing a paper! But if we had to write a paper — were we really investing ourselves within technology? We each choose different platforms that may have worked better for us. I chose Blogger because of it’s connectivity to Google and I like operating off Google. The direction of how we took the prompts were very interesting too. It was great to see how we tied the readings into what we are working with in reality. I really enjoyed reading and sharing these thoughts and comments with you throughout the course!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am going through the same exercise and pushing the team to drive and decide on their own. I noticed, in technology, there is unspoken respect to those who may be in leadership roles or more experience. This can make it challenging as a leader to identify a successor. I push my team members to meet without, make decisions, make mistakes, debrief what they learned. As a leader, we should be empowering others. It is through sharing and uplifting where we are most impactful. Cheers to your empowerment effort!

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  4. I love the idea of team empowerment and promote it heavily in all my projects under my program. In fact team empowerment was the focus of my essay submitted for admission to Creighton University, so its a huge passion of mine.

    That said, if decisions are made within the lowest level teams, then do we run the risk of independent silos? in other words, how do organizations maintain a strategic vision and direction? If there is no true leader role, then how do all the teams buy-in to the overall strategy and make decisions that most contribute to that strategy? How do we get teams to identify and understand the impacts their decisions have on other systems, business users, and operational teams?

    Do we run the risk of independent teams within an organization acting like independent contractors or vendors?

    The organization I work for is so large, and we are starting to see this type of behavior happen. The individual teams are empowered and make decisions, but that middle to upper layer is somewhat missing and we’ve had to either do a lot of extra work to make all the interfaces with other systems work or completely backtrack and implement a different system that worked better with the environment.

    I do not have an answer, but just wanted to throw out some thoughts based on experience.

    Like

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