Saturday, June 1, 2013

Technocrat Leadership

I have been considering the impact of email versus the personal interaction in a technology enabled world leadership environment.

I still remember those times not so long ago when typing a letter or a note was a major production, yet now notes in the form of email are sent almost without thinking.  And that can be a problem.

Leading organizations and teams requires adapting to the workers and the work environment. It is too easy for leaders to lose the personal touch and by default become managers rather than leaders. Leading through email ins not always the best option.

There are environments where that is the best option--like leading software writers and computer forensics personnel who are inherently introverts and are all about the technology and not human contact. I suppose if I walked up to them and started a conversation they would be terrified and upset about being distracted for solving the deepest secrets of the project they are engaged in.

But, there remain those work environments which require human touch. Where management by email is definitely the wrong approach. Some people need the personal touch. What I have noticed is that email questions receive email answers and that often is the incomplete message. Having a face to face discussion and getting the full sense of both the question and the answer is far more efficient than a series of emails each providing a chained iteration and expansion on the previous but never really answering the question.

Additionally, some items should never be placed into email--especially private and personnel related matters. Email never goes away. Once written, the writer should expect that the email will always be out there somewhere.

Leading in a technology enabled world requires being able to distinguish between when hiding behind the technology is the right approach and when the personal touch is required. Especially in an analytic environment--the personal touch is best. People who collaborate regularly seem to respond better to engaged and personal leadership.

Leaders must know their people to determine the best style and approach.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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