For years it has felt like we are constantly on the cusp of cutting-edge technology in the workplace. As leaders, we must continuously strive to keep up not only with the technology itself but with the changing policies and procedures that come along with advancements in how we do business. The days of standing around a fax machine and waiting hours for a report to print have been replaced with algorithmic based reporting, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Adapting to these advances are paramount to maintaining a strong leadership position within your organization.
It’s not difficult to imagine how much further this digital age will take us in business. The way we communicate, innovate and collaborate has changed so drastically just in the last decade. With social tools, stronger data management software suites, data-driven decision making, virtual teams, and automated project management we, as managers, have been challenged to adapt our management styles to operate within the scope of changing business. Yet, at the core, the skills needed to navigate this new landscape haven’t changed all too much.
At the top of the list of essential management skills for the digital era is something that you should already be quite familiar with — communication. As a leader, the importance of learning and utilizing your communication tools cannot be stressed more. Whether it be within Slack, Skype meetings, across international Cisco-powered video calls or in-person, effective communication with your team is key to keeping your company moving forward. Often, with the introduction of new technology, we find ourselves faced with a learning curve, one we must overcome to properly lead our teams forward.
With proper communication in place, we can begin to consider other skills that would flow downstream from being able to effectively listen and direct your team. Risk management and time management are two things you need to consider when moving into a more digitally-focused environment from an analog one. Will this technology improve production? Will it save time and eliminate risk factors that were present in previous processes? Technology has enabled us to communicate better, but does that mean we should always communicate more? When do we hit peak meeting?
Effectively managing time leads to effectively managing risk, especially risk associated with technology implementations that are used to create more efficient uses of time. While it might seem a bit circular, everything is related and must be considered as a whole. Leading isn’t just about pressing buttons and signing checks, it’s about mitigating risk and effectively creating a workspace where time management and technology work together.
With new digital solutions comes the need for management skills that might be outside your current range. While you don’t have to become proficient at a development level for each new technology you implement, having a bit of technical agility will help you stay current with the subject matter experts on your teams. Many leaders prefer to leave well enough alone and manage the politics of the workplace, rather than the functionality, and these leaders will be left behind. There is no downside to knowing the tools your company is using to move forward.
Finally, one of the most essential but overlooked skills for managing in the digital age is that of understanding the data. Not just the final presentation, but where it comes from as well. Being able to understand and consider the many variables and conditions that your data is comprised of goes a long way to helping your teams communicate and work together. You don’t have to become a number cruncher, you have analysts for that, but being able to see where the data comes from and having an insight into what it’s used for will give you a competitive advantage when it comes to growing your company and moving it into the next, inevitable digital age that is right around the corner.