Office buildings may seem quieter these days than in the era when clattering typewriters, closing file cabinet drawers, and talking around the water cooler were standard.
Offices may not be as noisy, but more communication than ever is taking place there.
Less auditory volume certainly doesn’t correspond to less communication going on. Intense, in-depth conversations take place all the time over text, email, and online chat, and the old office “bush telegraph” is now an electronic network that can transmit information to large numbers of people in real time.
Many CEOs reach their status after having many years in an industry, and all those years of hard work may not have allowed sufficient time to stay atop the technologies commonly used in business. That’s why today’s leadership training programs cannot ignore the role that technology plays in the day-to-day lives of top business leaders.
Influence versus Direct Power
Gone with many of the earlier modes of communication is the concept of the CEO as “invisible and omnipotent.” Today’s leader is more of an influencer than a “boss” from the old days who issued one-way communications and expected them to be carried out without question. It’s no mystery why so many brands turn to “influencer marketing” as opposed to traditional advertisements: people naturally want to do what their preferred influencers do and recommend, rather than being told what to do.
The good news is that today’s CEO can be a strong influencer without always pressing the flesh or issuing directives from “on high.” In-house social networks and instant communication modalities allow leaders to influence others in ways that simply were not possible a generation ago. That’s why today’s leadership training programs must include learning modules about technology, communication, and how to put the two together responsibly and effectively.
Potential Dangers of Communication Technology
Along with unprecedented power, modern technologies also offer unprecedented risks. Strict vertical control of the distribution of information is still possible, and sometimes necessary. However, these channels can spring massive leaks as easily as someone clicking on “Reply All” rather than “Reply,” or inadvertently sending a communication to the wrong person.
Communication mistakes can spread further, faster due to technology.
A CEO may not need to master every type of technology used in the company, but they definitely need to master some of them. Particularly with group chats and business social networks, understanding how the technology works is essential to preventing mishaps that can ruffle feathers or cause grave misunderstandings.
Leaders more Accessible, and That’s Good
Technology has made top company leaders more accessible to frontline workers. Physical travel isn’t necessary for CEOs to have “face time” with their teams or customers. Technology is perhaps the most disruptive force facing today’s business world. And along with changing business, technology is changing the day-to-day work of today’s CEO.
It’s not always easy for a top leader to filter out the signal from all the digital noise, and leadership training programs must not ignore the many ways technology affects the way business is conducted. Helping leaders use technology to help set priorities, communicate more effectively, and be more accessible to employees are (or should be) key elements of leadership training programs. Technology is a genie that cannot be stuffed back into the bottle, and the leaders that learn to make technology work for them, rather than the other way around, are leaders that will be more effective and have better legacies.
I, for one, am thrilled with today’s technological possibilities, because it helps me offer leadership training programs and direct CEO coaching more effectively and efficiently. Many of my books on leadership can be accessed instantly as e-books, and I can share executive coaching tips by online video, so no interested person has to miss out.
I encourage you to check out my books and learn more about my executive coaching services. Leadership training cannot afford to be held back by fear of technology, because the world is going to move forward regardless. Let’s make the most of technology for CEOs as well as all leaders in the world of business.