What is the connection between the technology your company uses and the people who use it? Although the technology was once considered to be an alienating force in the workplace, most—if not all—of those working today recognize the benefits that smart tech usage can offer at their jobs. And with each passing year, the workforce becomes even more receptive to tech solutions as the overall digital literacy of employees increases.
The trend toward digital integrations is particularly relevant to those in leadership positions. Technology gives management teams the opportunity to personalize their relationships, track the status of their projects and collect more accurate insights on the personalities that embody their workgroups. In many ways, these advancements have completely transformed what leadership looks like in an organization.
Digital leadership is the practice of integrating the newest tools and tech strategies on the market to better support those you oversee. By identifying areas of improvement in your management style and fortifying these weak points with technology, you can better prepare your teams for success and develop stronger relationships with the people you manage.
Here are a few key aspects of the leadership process and how technology enhances them.
While your teams are in the trenches of their immediate objectives, your job as a leader is to steer the ship toward a greater project vision. Today, a number of different solutions exist to keep you focused on big-picture ideas, ensuring that your teams are working, day in and day out, in the right direction.
How important is having a strategic direction?
Businesses operating without a plan for executing their projects have learned the hard way just how costly a lack of project strategy can be. An article by Capterra, which compiled a list of 20 of the most revealing statistics around project management, explains how projects fail and the value lost from these failures. Fewer than one-third of all projects were completed on time and on budget, and the same percentage of projects fail due to a lack of involvement from senior management. This—coupled with the fact that one-third of all projects have no baseline for gauging success—proves just how essential it is for your leadership to develop and steer the vision for each project their team embarks upon.
Become more strategic in your project delivery and leadership vision by adopting the concept mapping ideology. Coined and developed in the 1970s, concept mapping is a learning theory used to organize, present and visualize the relationships between various pieces of information. In the context of project management, concept maps develop a web of elements involved with each task to help you plan, evaluate and monitor your team’s progress. Many mind maps begin on post-its and whiteboards, though you can streamline your mapping approach by migrating to a digital alternative for your projects. Compared to a cluster of sticky notes on your desk, digital mind maps are widely dispersible, so you can share an editable version of your current plans with all relevant parties. Digital mind maps also give you a virtual platform for defining the scope of each proposal, assigning team members to key areas, and breaking down the map into digestible pieces of work.
Another challenge modern leaders will face when driving toward their objectives is fostering healthy team dynamics. With more employees working outside of the office—thanks to remote and flexible work opportunities—many leaders no longer have the advantage of meeting with their teams in person to track project progress and coordinate task ownership. That’s where technology like time tracking software comes into play.
Contrary to popular belief, time trackers do much more for leaders than recording and reporting employee time cards. By integrating with the tools your team uses to accomplish their work, digital trackers give managers a visual representation of productivity and development on an individual basis. You can also align your time tracking solution with the specific elements of your projects, allowing you to see how much time and how many resources you are spending. Over time, this information will help you more accurately gauge the number of people each task requires and how much it costs to deliver your products or services to the customer.
Today, many businesses offer flexible work benefits to their employees, and leaders should be just as privy to these opportunities as the people they oversee. With help from remote technology, it’s as easy for you to lead your teams while in the office as it would be off-site.
Around the world, 70% of people already make use of their remote work policies to work outside of their office a minimum of one time each week. On top of lowered costs for office rent and reduced stress caused by the daily commute, employers who offer remote benefits often reap higher levels of productivity when their employees work virtually. By making use of technology that connects their teams, leaders can also work in the spaces they find most productive.
Perhaps no challenge is more difficult to surmount than the issue of communication. Obviously, in-person meetings and conversations are not an option when you work away from your office desk. Although emails and chats are easily accessible for remote teams, these methods for communication don’t quite capture the nuance of conversation that body language and tone so often carry.
Because the remote life is so often a mobile one, finding a way to communicate with your voice and visuals (that doesn’t require extra hardware you have to take with you) proves to be vital for connecting with people across time zones and state lines. Many leaders looking to better connect with others have transitioned to Unified Communications as a Service technology or UCaaS. As opposed to a single communication tool, such as a phone or chat channel, unified communications platforms embody an umbrella of communication options—web conferencing, team messaging, voice calls, and more—through a single digital space. When compared to more traditional tools, the key difference here is that UCaaS systems operate through the internet, making your preferred method of communication accessible through mobile devices and laptops. And by using a strong internet connection during your video meetings and conversations on the phone, you can ensure that the meaning of your interaction does not get lost due to poor reception.
It’s equally important to equip remote leadership with the ability to support their teams with everything they need, even from afar. If the tools, documentation, and software your department uses every day can’t be accessed outside of the office, how can you or your teammates expect to work at peak productivity? To ensure that everyone in your team has access to the correct resources, consider migrating your files to a cloud-based storage subscription. Since many cloud storage services include administrative capabilities, you can share only what your team needs for their work and keep more confidential documentation in the right hands.
Your ability as a leader to detect and react to change as it arises is essential to the success of both your team and the company at large. As this article highlights, leaders play an instrumental role in setting a direction and priority list for adapting to changes. When the people at the top of an organization are able to clearly define the company’s vision and purpose, their workforces are more likely to enact fast-paced adjustments to deliver the right results.
In the context of agile technology, there are two key components that govern the success of a leader’s change initiative: the insights they have going into the operation and their ability to break down informational silos, which obstruct certain areas of the business from communicating with others.
Let’s start by looking at the former. Having the correct data on hand to inform your change management is important because it gives you the needed perspective when choosing where to take your team for continued success. Artificial Intelligence technology has helped many leaders collect and interpret critical information that would otherwise take hours to manually acquire. Unlike an assistant or any other human, AI works without tiring around the clock and requires no training period to become proficient at its job. Even utilizing tools with primitive machine learning capabilities can help you cut down on the tedious work you need to be completed, giving you back your workday to focus on high-level change initiatives.
Second is the issue of siloing. Organizational silos make any sort of fast-paced change impossible, thanks to the obstruction of information sharing. Agile leadership is all about keeping every person on the same page—without this, your business will be hard-pressed to successfully implement any changes to business processes. This is why leaders need to emphasize a culture of team collaboration and technology at work. While the specific benefits of collaborative work environments—such as improved communication, innovation, risk-taking, and employee engagement—are self-explanatory in their value, fortifying your collaboration efforts through a collaboration tool can be a valuable asset for those looking to streamline their teamwork. Encouraging collaboration through a service like iMindQ gives everyone on your team the opportunity to share their input, regardless of their proximity to the office. You’d be surprised how large of an effect having the right collaboration tools can be on keeping your teams aligned and prepared for any pending changes that come your way.
About the Author:
Abigail Whittaker is a digital content creator for HR, technology, and business leadership audiences. Abigail is particularly interested in the ways that technology integrates with our day-to-day lives, as well as its influence on business leadership and management strategies.