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Cheryl Cran

September 30, 2013 by Speakers' Spotlight

3 Skills Leaders Need in the Technology Revolution

Leadership and Communications Expert Cheryl Cran works tirelessly to help leaders be more effective at work. Part of that success is learning about and accepting the changes that are happening all around. In this article, Cheryl explains three essential skills that help those in leadership positions embrace the technology revolution:

Are you a tech savvy leader? If you are then you know how to leverage your technology tools to be as effective as possible in your leadership role.

Are you a tech ‘not so sure’ leader? If you are then you may have some tech knowledge and feel overwhelmed by the amount of technology innovation and the speed with which it changes.

Either way there are skills that masterful leaders need to have now an in the near future in this age of technology revolution. Technology is a tool that allows us to accomplish tasks and jobs faster and often in a more efficient way (when we know how to use it fully).

There are three skills leaders need to have in the current technology revolution:

1. Technology Adaptability– we cannot avoid the reality of technology being a part of work world today. I had a conference call today with a senior leader in the education industry and he admitted to me that he is still a ‘pen and paper’ guy and that he resisted the technology reality. He went on to say that he thought people who ‘tweeted’ were causing people to avoid face to face communication. It is interesting to see the different mindsets about technology and I gave a perspective to the senior leader to consider perhaps that  it wasn’t an ‘either or’ situation in regards to technology or social media – rather it is an opportunity to expand the way we communicate and connect. Technology adaptability when it comes right down to it is actually change management at its finest. We either embrace the technology and dive in to the learning in order to expand our knowledge or we resist it and diminish our abilities as leaders to lead our teams to the highest levels possible.

2. Mindset Adaptability– when it comes to the technology revolution there are different mindsets about the positive use of it and how to use it optimally. In the workplace I have encountered a ‘digital divide’ attitude amongst the generations on the influx of technology in the workplace. We all need to be open to the different mindsets of everyone on the team and to adapt to that mindset. For example when I was speaking with the senior leader in education I didn’t defend technology nor did I focus on his attitude around technology instead I had compassion for his viewpoint. Let’s face it for early Zoomers (baby boomers who refuse to age) those in their late 60′s technology was something forced upon them and that they had to adapt to whereas a Gen X or Y has had technology as part of their innate skill development. I see an opportunity in the workplace for ‘technology knowledge sharing’ in a reverse mentoring format where a Gen X or Gen Y would mentor a Zoomer on technological know how and skill improvement. We must adapt our minds to the other persons experience and view point- we need to ask high level questions such as, “how can I help this person to be more effective with the technology?” or “why might this person be resisting the new technology innovation?”

3. Increased Sensitivity to the Stress Reaction of Technology– the stress of the increasing pace that technological innovation causes affects people in different ways. If someone’s personality is geared towards empathy and people he or she might have a tougher time with shifting to a technological function that used to have a more human component. On the flip side if someone is more of a ‘driver’ personality they would see the merits of technology to speed things up and to get things done more quickly. A socially wired person would love social media and the opportunity to connect with more people and an analytical person may feel that the technological revolution is too intrusive on their privacy. Masterful leaders need heightened sensitivity to the different personal responses to the effects of technology and they need to be able to communicate the ‘value’ of technological innovation to different personality styles. There is an opportunity to assess the work styles of your team members and then to evaluate how they use technology to do their jobs. Further as leaders to take the time to provide input and guidance to our team members to maximize technology while minimizing stress.

The convergence of technology and people is going to continue to speed things up, and to create the need for faster adaptability. As leaders we ourselves need to be able to lead change as it relates to technology as well as adapting our people to the technology. The technology revolution does not mean that tech will dominate but it does mean that we can create a workplace that leverages tech for productivity while increasing the focus on the well being of people.