The past year has brought significant changes to the business world, with digital technologies playing a major role – with profound implications for strategy and operations.
In the past, leadership meant being in the office, but that’s no longer the case. With the advancement of digital technology, leaders can now effectively manage their teams from anywhere, while customers can connect at any time. There are pros and cons to this new way of working. On the one hand, digital technology has made it easier for leaders to connect with their teams and customers: they can now respond to inquiries quickly and easily. In addition, digital technologies enable businesses to operate continuously.
However, this new way of working has some drawbacks. For example, leaders now have easy access to their teams and clients day and night — disrupting work-life balance and causing burnout. Furthermore, digital technology can create a false sense of connection. While leaders can be in the same room as their team, they’re not really there if they’re distracted by their devices.
Therefore, the key to company leadership is finding a balance between the strengths and weaknesses of digital technologies. When used effectively, digital technology can be a powerful tool for leaders. However, if overused, it can negatively impact leaders and their teams. Therefore, leaders should consider the following six questions:
- How often do I use digital technology?
- Is digital technology helping or hindering my ability to connect with my team?
- Do I need to be on call at all times?
- What are the consequences of always being accessible?
- Am I using digital technology sustainably?
- Answering these questions will help leaders find the right balance of using digital technology.
It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution – what works for one leader may not work for another. Instead, leaders must experiment and find what works best for them and their teams. There is no magic formula, but three principles can guide leaders in the use of digital technology.
1. Communicate consciously
First, leadership must pay more attention to communication. In the past, leaders could rely on face-to-face interactions to build relationships with their teams. However, leaders must be more deliberate in communicating with their teams in the digital world. “They need to find ways to connect with team members that don’t rely on physical distancing,” Andrew Shore, CEO of health and fitness rewards network Amino, said in an email. “This could include scheduled video calls, regular check-ins via chat or email, or even sending handwritten notes.” He added, “This is exactly how we recently partnered with NBA icon Klay Thompson to launch a digital series, Celebrating his win for the Golden State Warriors.”
2. Create a digital rhythm
Second, leaders should focus on creating systems and processes that help teams thrive. In the past, leaders could rely on face-to-face interactions to build and support their teams. In a digital world, however, leaders must be more conscious of creating systems that help their teams succeed. “This may include establishing regular team meetings via video conferencing, establishing clear communication channels, and creating documents and templates that team members can use,” Filipp Veselov, CEO of software-as-a-service solution CLS Global, said in an email. He believes leaders must also provide their teams with “the tools and resources they need to be more productive, such as project management software, task tracking tools and file sharing platforms.”
3. Always be aware of burnout
Third, leaders need to be aware of the possibility of burnout. The always-on nature of digital technology can lead to burnout if leaders are not careful. Therefore, leaders must ensure that they take regular breaks and disengage from work. “They also need to be aware of signs of burnout in themselves and their team members,” said Cagla Ertugrul, founder and CEO of reputation management specialist MONCCO PR. “If someone is showing signs of burnout, it’s important to have a conversation and find ways to help them recover.”
Digital technology is here to stay, and leaders need to find ways to use it effectively. By communicating more consciously, being aware of potential burnout, and finding ways to connect, leaders can use digital technologies to benefit themselves and their teams. At the end of the day, the digital world can be difficult to navigate, but with the right corporate leadership, it can be a great place to do business. Remember, the key is to be flexible and conscious, and always keep learning. If you can do this, you will be well on your way to success.