Let me be quite open. About 15 years ago, I was given a sneak peak demonstration on the driverless car! My initial reaction was, “No way!” Indeed, I was a doubting Thomas. Yet, the driverless car is here, today!
I wonder how many of us predicted a car that drives itself. Or, that in the near future drones will be delivering car parts to a store near you. It is fun to predict the future and we all do it.
As we view business today, we see technology changing the role of leadership. The work environment is becoming more democratic. The organization chart may disappear; in some cases, cross-functional teams will operate without a leader.
The leader of the future will face the challenge of managing input from connected technology. Today, we are struggling to keep up with the pace of technology. There are many questions and ideas to consider:
- What will customer service look like in the future?
- Will smartphones replace computers?
- Large organizations will face greater challenges from smaller firms, as technology makes them nimbler and more adaptable to new technology.
- The gig economy will continue to drive the home office shift.
- Telecommuting change the way leaders and employees interact.
- What will social media look like in the future?
- The idea of telecommuting and flex-hours will not go away.
Given that the internet is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, it provides the opportunity to accomplish objectives and complete tasks outside of the so-called 40-hour workweek. This is a double-edged sword, which influences the work-life balance. Leaders must be aware of this situation and the needs of their employees.
Technology is not the end-all or be-all and must be managed carefully. As technology continues to change the business landscape, the fundamental aspects of leadership will not change. Motivating, communicating, developing, inspiring and driving positive change will always be needed in all organizations.
The effective leader of today, and of the future, clearly is aware of the positive and negative aspects of technology and deals with the ambiguity of it. The danger for all of us, is to spend too much time in front of our computer screen and in effect hide behind the computer!
The leaders of today, and the future, must spend time in front of employees and customers and really be involved in “Real Time.” The truth is, technology competes for the leader’s time, which is why the personal touch, conversation and interpersonal skills are the keys to motivation.
Leaders will continue to develop the vision, mission, emotion, direction, communication, motivation, interaction and feedback. Technology will continue to change work, as we know it today. In many cases, it has empowered us to do more. But, the question must be asked: Is it controlling us?
The issue is not “man vs. machine” but how we as humans value each other.