Leadership Development in a Technologically Advanced World; Insights, Advantages, and the Trends

By Sophie Theen, Chief People Officer, Oakam

Sophie Theen, Chief People Officer, Oakam

Technology has crept into every facet of human endeavor and transformed all the norms it met. Things are no longer the same in every sector that technology has affected, and the changes are highly welcomed by all and sundry.

In the leadership development sector, technology has drastically altered the previous landscape beyond recognition.  Various tools have sprung up from the staples of technology that assist leaders to become better and reach for the skies.

Technology has made leadership and leadership development almost seamless with the inclusion of artificial intelligence, management apps, tracking devices, and the likes.

Here we take a focal look at the impact of technology on leadership development across the business and corporate world.

How Leadership Landscape Has Evolved Over the Years

The founding pillars of leadership are still sacrosanct. You have to be visionary, goal-oriented, can influence followership, and have integrity amongst other qualities. But the landscape has changed over the years.

Technology is the chief culprit for the revolution witnessed around the spheres of leadership and that’s pretty clear.

Before the advent of mass acceptance of technology, leadership has always been autocratic – where the leader solely decides and enforces the execution from employees for the most part. Then change was extremely slow and a lot of things were predictable. 

"The founding pillars of leadership are still sacrosanct. You have to be visionary, goal-oriented, can influence followership, and have integrity amongst other qualities. But the landscape has changed over the years"

Leaders can be predicted and adjudged leaders from a track record of commitment in their hard skills, loyalty, and a few other predictable factors. However, with technology in the picture, all that has changed. Leaders are more collaborative than autocratic because change is happening really fast. 

What is good today might become bad tomorrow and only a collaborative effort with employees can help leaders survive this dynamic business world. 

Leaders are becoming difficult to predict even as remote working is getting more popular thanks to technology. The stakes are higher now and it’s a huge challenge appointing new leaders. 

Recent Technological Advancements in Leadership Development 

As earlier stated, technology has affected the leadership development sector drastically. More recently, advancements in the field of technology have made leadership even more effective and productive. 

Here are some of the recent ways it’s happening 

1. Leaders are Becoming Influencers 

These days, more leaders are becoming influencers through social media. Formerly, social media - which is also an integral part of the technological revolution, was just an online epicenter for socializing. 

However, times have changed. Now leaders are influencing their army of followers and employees via social media.

Since they are authorities in their respective fields, people respect and follow whatever they preach online. As a result, they leverage this to build trust and inspire loyalty in the hearts of employees and followers. 

Through social media, leaders can start a revolution or prevent one from rising. That’s the kind of influence they can wield online, it’s all about the technology in the background. 

2. Employees are Using Flexibility to become more Effective

With recent technological advancements in play, leaders can afford their employees the kind of flexibility they need to become more effective and productive. Such flexibilities like having the ideal work-life balance can boost productivity massively. 

Now tasks can be done online and mailed to superiors. It’s also pointless gathering everyone in a room for meetings from their distant locations when telepresence can do that effectively. Employees on vacation can still manage to attend meetings via zoom if they want, and return to duty without losing the work spirit.

3. Leaders are Becoming More Productive 

With tons of tools, apps, and software in handy for leaders to optimize, the leadership role becomes easier. The challenge with the lack of technology is that leaders often find themselves tied up with work.  

However, with the invasion of technology, a lot of tasks are often handled by software, affording them ample time to strategize and become more productive. There are even virtual assistants to hire if managing the assistant software and apps becomes overwhelming. 

With virtual assistants in the scene, they can work remotely and help leaders develop more in their capacities as figureheads. 

Leaders Leading from Afar

With technology in play, leaders can lead in absentia but present online. Virtual meetings are commonplace in many organizations, and leaders are maximizing the resources available to lead from afar. 

Documents can be signed, meetings held, decisions made, issues tackled, and progress made even when leaders aren’t present in-person. This is the kind of flexibility and ease of leadership that technological advancement is providing. 

Technological Trends Influencing Leadership Development Today 

Leadership development can be influenced by technology in today’s world. Some of the trends that play major roles in this shift include; 

Social Media 

Via social media, potential leaders can be assessed using their posts on social media. There are tools that can precisely perform these analyses, and determine the capacity or personality traits of would-be leaders via social media. 

Leaders can also use these same analytics on social media as one of the yardsticks in profiling their successors. 

Handy Self-Assessment Devices 

With some wearable devices going vogue currently like digital wristbands with sensors that can track and record how we respond to stress and situations, leadership development is taking a new shape. 

These devices are capable of reading beyond body language and the perceived physiological behaviors of potential leaders. This is pertinent when profiling leaders in leadership development as the devices can tell if a person is stressed or have the tendencies to burst emotionally (including other behaviors that are not consistent with leadership qualities) which can be detrimental for leadership. 

Virtual Simulations

Virtual Simulations are becoming increasingly popular as a tool for training and assessing leaders. It’s also called virtual reality and can be rendered in 3D in most cases. Leaders are engaged in coaching sessions virtually and assessed based on their performance. 

Sometimes, they are presented with the virtual reality of some real-life situations and made to handle them while their performances are being rated. 

Finally 

The technological invasion brought about by the 21st century has raised the stake for success when it comes to leadership. 

Only businesses and leaders who are willing to adopt some of these best practices like virtual reality, social media, virtual assistance, flexibility, and the rest of the offerings of technology can steer clear of the competition. 

Budding entrepreneurs can also imbibe some of these 21st-century digital cultures to thrive in their respective industries. 

And for veterans in the leadership and business world, they might have thrived before the advent of technology, but if they refuse to adapt to the changes that it brought, it will be a case of “better shape in or ship out”. 

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