Leading in today’s technological world can be challenging, to say the least. The seemingly insurmountable amount of information available and endless emerging technology advancements can be overwhelming. Add the ever changing work environment, the challenge of always being connected to work through our cell phones and the shift to individuals using social media to communicate with others and collect information that informs decisions. The ethical issues that are interwoven into all of the above, so how does a leader deal with all of these challenges? Perhaps instead of viewing this laundry list of topics as challenges, view these as opportunities to lead.
Over the course of the last eight weeks, numerous important topics have been shared, discussed, contemplated, and debated. The concepts and topics have revolved around technology in our lives and how as leaders do we ensure that our teams and organizations are doing what we can to wade through the information available and make informed decisions. In our world today, information is available to an increasing number of people, most often through computers and smart phones. The ease of the availability can be viewed as a blessing and a curse. Networked knowledge is more easily accessed by individuals through the internet and more specifically through the use of social media type modalities. The use of blogs such as this one can be accessed my anyone that has access to the internet. The challenge can be identifying who has “good” information to share and who does not. Social media has given each one of us a platform to share our knowledge and our experiences. It is vital that leaders encourage individuals to seek the knowledge of others through avenues such as this but to continue to dig deeper and ask additional questions. We want to encourage dialogue to be deeper and not gravitate simply to those with like thoughts but to engage in meaningful dialogue with those that have different views and experiences than that of our own to consider various sides to the problem before making a decision.
As leaders, it is important not only to help others manage information and knowledge but for us to model the behavior. Big data, data management, and analytics have become popular buzz words. The use of data to make decisions is expected in our world today. It is easy to get lost in the amount of data that is available to us. The vast amount of data can cause paralysis. Data integrity can be an issue as well. Similar to the information overload mentioned, knowing if the data we have is accurate can pose challenges. The concept of networked knowledge, when we combined the data sources, personal experiences and knowledge, with the experience and knowledge of others is the balance leaders should seek.
As leaders, it is crucial that we seek to have an eye on the horizon and consider emerging technologies and how they can best assist us in our mission and meeting the needs of those we serve. Instead of chasing the latest and greatest constantly, being aware of what is important and doing our best to anticipate the future. As Kevin Kelly described in his 2016 TED presentation, we need to understand the tendencies and look for patterns. We need to consider these patterns when making decisions as to what to invest in and what not to. These types of decisions can also inform us as to changing work environments.
Being cognitive of the ability of the employee to be connected to work nearly all the time and the need for time away from the job is an important consideration. Leaders need to understand the needs of their employees and how best to balance those needs with the needs of the team and organization. The flexibility and convenience technology brings can also create struggles of feeling the need to always being “on.” Setting realistic expectations and living by the expectations are the key.
Finally, the ethical issues with each of the topics I have highlighted this week are linked and underline each of the areas. Social media can be used as networking knowledge, but as we have all witnessed, it can pose a plethora of issues for organizations and individuals. The access of personal data available often can cross the ethical lines as well. The internet has opened the world globally, and conflicting beliefs and ethics can further complicate things for leaders. Ethical considerations should always be considered by leaders in this ever-changing technological world.