Over the past 30 years, technology has shaped our lives in ways that influence us across every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s ordering cinema tickets or conducting business across continents, tech has been at the forefront of everything that we do.
What’s more, it shows no sign of slowing. In 1990, the number of mobile phone owners worldwide was in the lower millions. Today, it’s estimated that five billion people own mobile phone devices.
In 2004, a geeky social networking site was designed initially to connect students across colleges. Today, Facebook boasts an active usership of 1.5 billion active monthly users around the world, as well as an annual advertising revenue that stretches into tens of billions of dollars.
In leadership, technology plays a crucial role in helping leaders to communicate, establish relationships, manage relationships and broker deals across several borders. To understand new technologies and to maximise their potential is to be granted access to entire new markets throughout the world, and strengthen an organisation’s brand and mission in the digital space.
Arguably, technology is – and always has been – the driving force behind modern leadership, because it forces us to embrace change or get left behind. It also opens up our eyes to new challenges and ways to overcome them; how we can use it to expand and benefit from diversity; and enhance the ways in which we communicate, share and implement ideas.
As the former CEO of Cisco, John Chambers put it, “If you don't innovate fast, disrupt your industry, disrupt yourself, you'll be left behind.” The job of today’s leaders no longer stops at managing people, but to anticipate and prepare for evolving challenges and opportunities by keeping on top of tech trends and how to implement them at an organisational level.
Looking ahead, leaders must scrap the attitude of ‘This is the way we’ve always done it’ and realise that embracing new technology isn’t something to be dismissed or feared. Rather, it should be used as a means to propel business to greater heights and lasting successes.
It’s now becoming increasingly difficult to think about business without reflecting on the impact of technology. As Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates said, “Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don't think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.”
Business leaders today are faced with a vista of amazing opportunity if they learn to use technology in the ways that suit their organisations best. There are so many tools, resources, apps and other software available that it leaves us with no excuse to deploy tech solutions to the grander challenges we face today compared to 30 years ago.
In order to leverage technology in leadership, one must first understand how management and leadership differentiate. Management is about organising and controlling resources in order to achieve specific goals. Leadership, on the other hand, is about inspiring and motivating people to work together to achieve a common goal. Technology can be used to support both management and leadership, but it is important to understand the difference between the two in order to use technology effectively.
With that in mind, here are four ways that leaders can begin to think of technology as a means to provide leverage and get the best out of their teams and business potential…
1. Turn to tech to measure performance
As an effective leader, you’ll want to have the most accurate and up-to-date data at your fingertips – especially when it comes to tracking performance. Using paper-based methods is time-consuming, often costly, and just plain unnecessary in today’s world.
There are various free analytic tools available online to choose from, which can help you to keep an eye on business and employee performance and help improve efficiency and productivity.
2. Make use of online learning
Organisations are constantly looking for ways to maintain their competitive edge, and one of the best ways to do this is making sure your employees’ skills are kept sharp. Making use of online courses can help your business to keep up with what’s relevant today.
Whether it’s Big Data, Communication, Problem-solving, or Sales, online courses – whether you deliver them in-house or utilise a third-party platform – are a convenient way to ensure your organisation stays ahead of the curve.
3. Dive into digital tools
The world of work is constantly evolving and yet we still seem to be using the same old tools to meet modern job demands. From face-to-face meetings to paper planners, there’s a cost and time-efficient digital alternative.
By giving employees access to digital tools, they’ll be able to work faster, produce higher quality results, and less time will be wasted. All of this translates to a happy ending for your company’s bottom line and the customers that you work to serve.
4. Social, social, social
In 2019, the importance of having a social media brand presence can’t be over-stressed. The advent of social media started around 15 years ago, and yet business leaders in Malaysia are still lagging behind in realising the potential of communicating with existing and potential customers online.
A good online presence creates trust and loyalty between business and customers who feel like they can be a part of the brand experience. What’s more, it’s a highly cost-efficient way to reach out to a wide target market if platforms and their tools are put to good use.
Read:How Leaders Can Use Social Media To Influence