Is it time to admit that we can no longer keep pace with technology?
In 1997, I learned how to set up an e-mail account on yahoo. I was in my first year of university and it was the first time I had used this technology. In 1998, at the age of 19 I got my first mobile phone. It was a rather basic Nokia and the most sophisticated app on it was the game snake. In 2007 a friend of mine told me that she was going to get a blackberry. I asked her why she thought she might need to access to her e-mails on the go. In 2008, I got my first smart phone. It was the first time that I had handheld internet and it took a while to get used to. In 2010 when the iPad was launched, I thought why do I need something that is a cross between my phone and my laptop? My phone and my laptop are good enough. Given that the iPad is commonplace in many homes nowadays it is incredible to think that the first generation iPad was launched only 5 years ago.
Our personal technology has transformed beyond all recognition in less than one generation. It is no different in the office. Your job role probably involves more technology every year, maybe even every month. You have to keep up to stay in the loop of what is going on and do your job. But what if I told you that your future success at work will depend on you slowing down?
What would happen next?
The reality is that technology is getting smarter and it isn’t going to stop. Technology has been able to do things that we can’t for some time now but the potential of technology’s intelligence is only just being realised. As leaders, we need to acknowledge that technology is better than us at doing a number of things. And when we do that, we can start being honest about what our response to the rise in intelligent technology should be.
In an article on 8th April 2015, Ed Hess uncovered the results of his research at the Virginia Darden School of Business about how leaders can stay relevant in the 21st Century. In a business world where making quick decisions and having an extrovert personality are revered, Hess’ article stands out in the crowd. For those whose life seems to be busier than ever and the concept of a work-life balance is more frustrating than inspirational his article will be a revelation. If technology plays a central role in your life and you are tired of keeping up with it’s demands, then read on.
Hess lists seven steps that are crucial for leaders of the future, crucial if you are to become a human leader:
Step One: Your ability to be human
What makes us human is our ability to connect with others. To do this we must be able to manage our thinking, our listening, our relating and our emotions. In other words, we must start getting in touch with how we feel.
Step Two: Your ability to open your heart
A human leader must be able to explore views that are different from their own. This requires a quietening of the ego to allow the possibility that a world exists outside the one we have created for ourselves. In opening your heart, you become open to a world that better represents reality and you are therefore more able to offer a valuable perspective.
Step Three: Your ability to listen deeply
The level of listening that we have become accustomed to in society and business today is at a level that barely allows for a true exchange of information to take place. Conversation nowadays is an opportunity to show off your knowledge rather than endeavouring to see the world from another’s point of view. Human leaders will be required to say ‘lend me your eyes’ instead of ‘let me tell you what I see’.
Step Four: Your willingness to collaborate
Changing your perception of reality to fit what is true rather than what you have created for yourself can only be achieved through collaboration. We live in a world where challenging our beliefs is scary and collaboration is therefore perilous. With courage, human leaders will overcome this barrier.
Step Five: Your ability to embrace uncertainty
Human leaders must be able to adopt continuous learning. To do this, they must be curious and embrace the uncertainty that continuous learning entails. It is no longer relevant to think about your failures but to focus on how you are able to learn and grow.
Step Six: Your willingness to take time to reflect
Having the emotional intelligence to respond to the world in a new way, a human way, requires thought and self-control. We must adopt innovative thinking and an acceptance of our true feelings in order to be relevant in the world.
Step Seven: Your ability to be present and slow down
Contrary to how we believe that success is achieved in the 21st Century, slowing down is the most important message for human leaders around the world. Being present allows a calm mind, which in turn allows greater connections with others and a greater ability to think and behave in a new way.
Hess’ article acknowledges that technology will soon be able to do almost everything that does not require these aspects of human leadership. Human leaders are already beginning to prepare and adapt, re-igniting skills and qualities that have been forgotten in recent decades.
So is it time to admit that we can no longer keep pace with technology?
It is certainly time to admit that technology will become increasingly intelligent and our response to that as leaders is critical. Let’s not become the poorer relation of the technology that we created. Let’s respond by becoming human leaders and offer the world something that technology cannot.
The seven steps above are The Human Leader’s interpretation of Hess’ research. For Hess’ full article from forbes.com click the following link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/darden/2015/04/08/21st-century-smart-staying-relevant-in-the-artificial-intelligence-age/2/
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