The last 20 years has seen an incredible increase in technology. Most of the principles of good leadership remain the same, regardless of how technology changes. However, technology presents new challenges for leaders.
Virtual Contact Leadership
One of the benefits of modern technology is the ability to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world. While this is a benefit for businesses looking to expand, it presents unique challenges for leaders. Many leaders have a leadership skill set that relies heavily on their personality and “presence”. Many of these skills don’t translate well into electronic communication.
Leaders need to be aware of this and work to improve their skills in communicating and leading using modern tools. They can no longer rely on the power of their personality to give them an edge. One of the biggest areas leaders must develop is the ability to communicate well through the written word.
In the past, leaders were often able to rely on assistants for written communication. However, with the ubiquitous use of email, this is no longer an option. Leaders who cannot communicate well in writing will find themselves at a disadvantage.
Leaders preparing for the future should make a conscious effort in the following areas:
- Developing strong writing skills.
- Understanding different forms of electronic communication.
- Understanding the culture of different forms of electronic communication.
Leading Outside the Organization
In the past, leaders generally led people who reported to them through the chain of command. As businesses become more focused on their core competencies, leaders are finding that many of the people they are leading are in other organizations. Leaders of the past who lead through position and title will find it difficult to lead in the future. Many of their old techniques will not work across organizations’ boundaries.
This shift will require that successful leaders of the future develop a greater degree of true leadership skill. The shortcuts used by many in authority will not work when trying to lead across organizational boundaries.
Leaders in future organizations will also require a better holistic understanding of the entire business ecosystem, not just their organization. Leaders who can successfully make this transition will be in high demand, not just by companies looking to hire their skills, but by organizations looking to partner with them for mutual benefit.
The Difficulty of Earning Leadership Trust
Some of the recent high-profile scandals in business will require some changes for leaders of the future as well. Subordinates are less likely to trust a leader because of position and title than they were 10 years ago. In the future, obtaining trust will require even more effort.
In the future, leaders must seek to actively measure the level of trust in their organization and take deliberate steps to improve the level of trust. Before making big changes leaders must gauge the level of trust in their organization to make sure they have built enough of a solid trust foundation to obtain successful buy-in.
While the core skills of leadership will remain the same over time, the leadership of the future will require a different emphasis on particular skills. By preparing for these changes ahead of time, leaders can ready themselves today for what organizations will need tomorrow.