So much of what we hear about today regarding leadership and technology seems to deal with the impossible rather than the reality. I guess the big question is “does technology impact the way we lead or can technology be an asset in our role as a leader?” The obvious answer is yes! Technology impacts everything. When I go to my office, my first action is to open the computer and look at the emails that I’ve received. My second action is to begin the process of answering those that require a decision. When I’m in a creative mood and want to provide thought for consideration, thus influencing how the organization (university) is operating, changing, or moving in a particular direction, I normally use the Internet, a piece of the technology space, to affect my influence. From early morning when I awake until the late evening when I return to bed to sleep, I’m managing and leading with the computer in my office, the telephone in my pocket, or the Blackberry on my belt.
Maybe the next question is “What has been done to clearly demonstrate that technology and leading are intricately intertwined in today’s electronic world?” The best example that I can pull to memory took place in the last presidential election. When President Obama was trying to capture Iowa, raise money, and outmaneuver Hillary Clinton, he and his team depended on the Internet in a major way. His Chicago headquarters was staffed with technology whiz kids who had worked for Howard Dean in his groundbreaking use of the Internet. Each and every day, the Obama team looked to their staff for updates on how the Internet was working for them.
While Obama was making hay with technology, his opponents were only nibbling around the edges of what was possible. Although Howard Dean had made the techy touch work for him, this team was making it work big time. As they began to make the Internet work by touching people who would ultimately vote for them, they were also making unbelievable progress in using the Internet to raise money. Technology made it so easy to raise money for them that it became a “fast train” that was never stopped.
The casual observer may say that this is not leading and it surely is not governing! A relatively unknown person was making technology work for him in his pursuit of the “gold ring.” Leading, among other things, is about using resources to influence the behavior of others; getting people to do what you want them to do for positive results is indeed leading. The big question for all of us who are leading is “will technology work for me and will it work for positive benefit if I get it right?” The answer can be found just by looking around. Everyone else is either doing it or trying it. Leading involves many things, and technology is now a key piece of the puzzle.