Technology-based leadership: A silent revolution

Technology-based leadership: A silent revolution

by Dr. Jan Lüdert

Long gone are the days of typewriters clicking and phones ringing. Offices today have gone seemingly silent. Yet, conversations amongst colleagues, clients and business partners are more vibrant than ever. Interactions occur without delay across continents and time zones via email, messengers, video conferences, on shared documents stored in the cloud. Technology reshapes the workplace itself, as employees can work remotely. This freedom increases productivity in organizations while engendering new challenges for leaders. Technology-based leadership involves striking a balance between endless opportunities and new challenges in management and technology infrastructure.

Agility, creativity and flexibility

Consider the ways that technology is silently reshaping how we view the concept and practices of leadership. Leaders across the globe have certainly realized the dramatic change technology has had on their respective organizations and the interactions in them. Leaders need to brace themselves and their organizations to be fit for an interconnected world that continuously evolves. In reacting to these new realities, leaders are asked to be agile, creative and flexible.

Take for instance the ways in which social media technology ushers in a virtual discursive place to discuss ideas, to drive progress and to get the job done. Leaders can harness these new technologies to empower horizontal collaboration and participation across an organization. Yet, there is surprisingly little known about what we call participatory social media and its effects on leadership practices, let alone much clarity on what skills a leader ought to develop to harness these technologies for their context.

Six skills for technology-based leadership

Deiser and Newton (2013) outlined a set of skills every leader needs as this silent revolution is underway:

  • Leaders must find an authentic and credible voice when creating messages, while being open to a degree of imperfection.
  • Technology-based leadership includes an appreciation for the logic of self-organizing networks; instead of traditional unilateral rules and linear thinking.
  • To harness new technologies leaders are asked to combine vertical accountability mechanisms with horizontal networking opportunities to ensure that decision processes are reactive and not cumbersome.
  • Leadership and hierarchy are no longer a winning combination as social media literate leaders are located at any level of an organization and it becomes critical for leaders to realize who these individuals are.
  • Technology-based leadership requires new governance structures that transcend traditional boundaries. Such governance cannot be pushed on communication, marketing and IT departments but requires new functional responsibilities.

Offices may be quieter today with chatter around the office being pushed onto the keyboard and through social media technologies. Leaders must recognize the potential of this silent revolution and harness its powers to stay ahead of the curve. Technology-based leadership cannot wait with millennials entering the workforce.  Indeed, it holds a promise to guide us in this inevitable transformation underway.

To prepare for the future, see what courses you need to take for a Doctor of Educational Leadership online or visit the School of Applied Leadership . You can also request more information about our programs. A new world awaits!