What if I told you that leading others has just become harder? And that it will become increasingly challenging in the future?
How we lead others effectively is not remaining constant. Ever-changing technology that is touching more and more of our lives is making sure of that. Leadership is all about how we influence others and motivate them to meet expectations and, in many cases, exceed them. With an increasing amount of our interaction mediated by technology, that influence process cannot remain the same, can it? Technology changes how we interact with others, how we perceive them, and how they perceive us.
Work, too, is shifting with more of it being executed by technology. The human worker is now expected to do much more to prove her/his value. As we disambiguate work using techniques such as machine learning, more of it is moving to technology. We humans are being left with the more ambiguous work for which we can’t specify clear expectations beforehand. Forget exceeding expectations in such a situation, let alone meeting them. How can we continue to influence and motivate others in the same way as before?
With technology permeating our work and consuming more of our dollars, it makes sense to make sure that we realize its full potential. Yet, it often falls short in delivering on its promise. And that is largely because leaders fail to recognize that realizing the true potential of technology involves more than writing a check for it and switching it on. I am sure they are going to tell me: “Isn’t that why I have hired IT people? Isn’t it their job to make sure that we get the bang we expect from every dollar we invest in technology?” At that point, I will have no choice but to give them the bad news that whenever we invest in technology, we also have to make complementary changes in the organization, including those in their leadership, in order to get the most out of technology. It is their job and not IT’s to make those changes.
Of course, I have talked very broadly about what lies ahead for leadership. I am going to be elaborating more on these points in my future posts.