Analog Leadership in a Digital World

It is certainly not a new flash that technology is changing how we work, how we read, how we shop, and how we get our information.

My daughter who lives in New York does not take cabs, she uses Uber. She has never been inside a bank, her dry cleaning is scheduled online, and her food shopping is done online and later delivered. She has never owned a map, has never stood in line for tickets, and does not own a land line. Her life is digital and becoming more and more so every day. As my good friend and social media master Lonny Strum jokingly says often, “I think this internet thing is the real deal.”

What I hope is that technology does not change at the fundamental level is how we lead. Sure, technology can leverage leadership, but not at the core level.

My core level on leadership is fundamentally summed up by the following: Leadership is hard, and it is rewarding. It is about doing the right thing – not the popular thing. It is about being confident in yourself and wise enough to take the advice of those you trust. It is about understanding the facts, not the emotion. It is about being fair to all, not just a few. It is about courage and vision. It is about humor and humility. It is about putting yourself in the hands of a higher power, and having the faith to let that power guide your actions. It is never about the talk. It is all about the deeds.

Listening remains essential. Work ethic remains essential. Curiosity remains essential. Loving and developing talent remains essential. Solid core values remain essential. The call to service remains essential. Courage remains essential. Finally, the need for face-to-face, “boots on the ground” interaction has a place that no smart phone can replace. Leverage, yes. But never replace.

I get the digital economy, but I don’t always like it. I guess I am turning into my father. America is a country of innovation and opportunity for those who have access to opportunity and technology is certainly providing new avenues of access.

In our work at ECS, technology is a significant lever with our participants. That said, there are still not substitutes for the analog one-on-one, face-to-face conversations, the human touch, and time to think and reflect. Leadership without these things turns cold.