I have spent the last month conducting research on leadership and training around leadership. You can imagine that this is a big field and currently growth numbers in this industry segment are in the double digits. There is an increasing need for training around leadership and my research was about the “why” of this need. Put simply; why is this need increasing? Why are companies choosing to invest more in this area? Why are people in general spending more time on their own looking at this issue? I am going to “chunk” this into several bite sized blogs of 400-600 words each and share with you what I see as the key component of this trend and what its subcomponents are.
A clue came to me this week in an article written by Simon Jenkins of the Guardian. The title of his article is “We’re over the digital revolution. This is the age of experience.” In his article he writes about the resurgence of things like Ektachrome film for cameras, vinyl records, printed books and a host of activities centered around experiences and technology long since considered passé.
I saw the key statement of his article as this one; “Only fools would deny digital its recent and astonishing history, but that is different from how people feel about it.” It struck me because I had recently taken a group through leadership training and we discussed that humans are “analog” creatures in a digital age. Is it any wonder then that we should seek out “analog” experiences that we can better connect with at a human level?
I was watching a pretty well-known commercial the other day and I was struck by the same sentiment Jenkins speaks to in his article. You may recognize the commercial where a bearded and weathered traveler speaks of walking the sands of a 1000 beaches until he found this one. He turns to his fellow traveler to ask “And you friend, how did you find this paradise?” Her response is “Oh I used XYZ program and just looked it up.” “How long did that take you?” the experienced traveler asks. “Oh about 30 seconds” comes the reply, to which we zoom to the experienced traveler wheezing in astonishment.
Of course this is a rough paraphrase of this commercial but I found the whole thing unsettling. What I realized was that I would rather have the “experience” of the journey of a thousand beaches than the “30 seconds” of online searching. And there is the rub. We are humans who live in a digital age. There is so much we have gained because of it but we are only just waking up to what we may be losing; our humanity.
Leadership in this digital age is wrought with challenges; changes in information that now comes at blistering speeds. Challenges to keep up with the machines we created to make our lives so much better. The need to sift through mountains of data in order to locate leading indicators instead of lagging ones so that we can stay ahead of the pack. And lastly knowing how to lead our groups, teams or companies in that kind of environment.
How do you lead what are analog beings in a digital age? How can you account for the P factor – the People factor? I propose that successful leadership in this age involves leaders who know how to activate and utilize the People factor. How do you activate the P factor with your team? That is what we will explore next. Performance Leadership – Think About It!