High Touch Leadership in a High-Tech World
How do we lead others more effectively today when we are so heavily reliant on technology? This is a great question all leaders should work to answer for themselves.
Today, more of our employees work remotely, teams are spread across a large campus or they work from home and may never be physically located in the same space.
The world has changed, hasn’t it? I have been an entrepreneur since 2006. However, prior to this all the employees I was responsible for leading were co-located with me in the same offices. I was in the Army for several years and my team was with me, and then while leading in the hospital my team was with me.
Today, we have tools allowing us to work from anywhere and work with others located all around the globe. As an entrepreneur, I now have people working with me from thousands of miles away. I am in Arkansas, but have virtual partners in Canada, New York, Florida and California. I have worked with teams in England and have used resources from Fiverr to help me create branding for my business.
Why does all this matter? Leadership of others requires the ability to be high touch. The foundation of leadership is trust and trust is built over time in a relationship of consistent communication.
In my consulting work as a leadership coach and trainer, I see leaders today who rely too much on technology and not enough on the relationship. As leaders we want more from them, but we are not giving more of ourselves to them. Technology is a tool to help us communicate and share information more quickly, but leadership requires us to connect with others in a personal relationship.
One of my mentors is John Maxwell. He wrote a book titled Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. This is a vital shift we must understand and then make as leaders. Especially leaders working in the tech space where maybe your comfort zone is behind the computer screen and using your keyboard to communicate.
Connecting with others means we have their attention. Communicating is just words coming out of our mouths, but maybe no one hears them. This happens with my teenagers a lot, but I digress.
“Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth” – Chris Tucker in the Movie Rush Hour
He was talking at Jackie Chan and not connected with him, so there was no understanding, no trust, no relationship.
On my Podcast, Episode 156 I share some ideas on how to connect versus just talk at people.
When we have a relationship with those we lead, it means we have connection, we have built trust and we have a collaboration between us so we can excel in our roles as individual contributors to our cause.
So, how do we do this in this high-tech world. How do we become a high touch leader when maybe it’s not our strength? Let me be honest for a moment. My strength is not in building relationships. My strength is getting things done and moving forward. I had to learn to build relationships with others and connect with them before asking for their hand in my goals. May be this is you too.
I learned from Zig Ziglar, when we help others get more of what they want, they will in turn help us get more of what we want. The only way you can help them, is slow down and seek to connect, seek to understand and seek to learn about them as a person before you give orders to them about your next task.
To build this trust and relationship we must be intentional with connecting ourselves with those we lead. Today, we have the technology to literally connect all over the world, but we must quit relying on email and texting as our primary way to lead.
Texting is fantastic. I highly recommend you text motivational messages to your teams, or words of encouragement every day. But, do not rely on this as the only way to connect. Here are a few ideas I have implemented in my leadership roles.
Set up Zoom or other virtual communication meetings where you can see their face… make this a requirement. I recommend at least one of these virtual meetings each month with your teams. This gives you a chance to bring them all together and coach them up, encourage them and let them learn from one another.
Be intentional with this meeting and make sure it is a value adding time together and not a complaint session, or people will not want to show up.
Also, you can connect with your team on Facebook and create a private group just for you to share things with one another privately if this works for your team. I use this all the time as well as LinkedIn Groups too.
Also, this is a little thing, but will mean a lot to those you lead. Know the birthdate and work anniversary date of everyone on your team. Go buy cards for every one of your employees right now and then put these dates on your calendar as a reminder to send them or give them this thank you or birthday card.
There are so many ways to connect with your followers today, but you must be smart, and you must be intentional to use the technology you have available. Don’t be like most leaders and stick to email as your only way to communicate, be a difference maker and connect with them in many ways.
All the research tells us that the number one thing our employees are wanting today is better communication with their leaders and more connection to the purpose.
When you do this, you will be seen as a high touch leader in a high-tech world.