Technology is one of the greatest additions to our modern lives. Yet the way we use it and engage with it, may not necessarily be helping with our leadership effectiveness. Sure, we are more ostensibly connected-never far away from our phones, tablets and laptops. Yet proximity does not a connection make. I would argue that technology may be one of the contributors to leadership disconnection.
5 Ways Technology Creates Disconnected Leaders
- Leadership requires focus. Technology is distracting. It takes a lot of discipline to stay off social media and email. The more we can remove distractions, the easier it is to become focused on the person or problem that requires our attention.
- Leadership requires talking and listening. Technology is mostly reading. It’s easy to become swallowed up in the flood of content that swarms into our lives with technology. None of it, however, requires listening to another person. To effectively lead, we need to speak and listen deeply, with all of ourselves, and have conversations that matter.
- Leadership requires connection. Technology only gives the impression of connection. Connection isn’t the number of contacts you have on LinkedIn, followers on Twitter or Friends on Facebook. Connection occurs when you take yourself out from behind a screen and into real interaction, using your emotions, body, and words. Technology often offers us more “interaction” opportunities, but are they truly connecting us?
- Leadership requires thinking and reflection. Technology is generally comprised of short, quick interactions, taking away our ability to reflect. We can get absorbed by the amount of ways to “make our lives easier and better.” Yet the one fundamental truth is that giving ample time for quiet reflection and thinking, about our business, our goals, and our relationships, is likely to cause more opportunities for improvement than any “app” or website.
- Leadership is about relationships. Technology tends to depersonalize our interactions. Using the guise of email and social media, we can fire off missives to others, and not face them. We don’t hear or see the impact of our words on others. We can become careless, cruel, and destructive to others in ways that would not have been possible before the digital age.
Is Technology Damaging Your Relationships?
Relying too heavily on technology can not only diminish our ability to make personal connections, it can also damage the ones we already have. Here are ways you can improve your relationships and make technology work for you:
- Limit email checking to 3-4 times daily. Notice that less frequent checking will help you become more present to the people in front of you, while increasing your productivity on the task at hand.
- When the opportunity to create connection exists, use it. Avoid over-reliance on email, a medium that is better for communicating tasks and confirmations than for creating connection. Pick up the phone, skype, or walk down the hall. You’ll be amazed at how much more effective (and efficient) this will be.
- Create reflection time in your calendar. Make this a priority that you keep with yourself. Set a timer, invite a question, get quiet, and see what comes to you. Working “on” the business is as important as working “in” the business. Be sure to place “connecting” as part of your exploration.
Am I connecting well? Am I connecting enough? Who do I need to be more connected to?
Technology is changing what it means to lead effectively. My hope is that we learn to manage it, taking responsibility for putting it into service of the higher calling we have as leaders.