One of the things I find interesting is that this environment, not necessarily the technology but the environment the technology has wrought, is showing the fundamental lack of leadership skills by those in leadership positions currently in the government and business. While both the things Andy and Charles mention are aspects of good leadership, the skills I think that are essential are vision, communication, and fluid thinking. It is not enough to know how to navigate the road before you; you must also know where you are going and why. A good leader must have vision enough to recognize risk and threats and courage to keep moving toward the goal while adjusting for setbacks and the unexpected.
Good leaders will use whatever technology is available to them to advance their mission. Today’s technology increases communication and decision-making when applied properly. Leadership is communication and decision-making. Decision-making is about observing the situation at hand, orienting yourself to the situation with your mission goal in mind, making a decision on that information and acting on that decision. Acting knowing that your action, your input, will change the dynamic and hopefully that change will be in your favor. If not, then recognizing the change and trajectory, deciding and acting again using what ever technology will enable you to gather information to make better decisions to move closer to your goal in a timely manner.
It is not about the amount of information, but the accuracy and timeliness of relevant information that makes the difference. Knowing what information is relevant and what is not is also a key skill of a leader. Understanding what are your key performance indicators, why they are your key performance indicators, and when to change them is critical. Technology can help if it supports a leader’s KPI and communication with and among the team.
Back in the early 1990’s I had the opportunity to look over and into the cockpit of the Soviet Sukhoi SU-27 “Flanker” fighter aircraft. It was sparse and relatively rudimentary especially compared to the US McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle. At the time both aircraft were the height of aeronautical achievement for their respective countries. I also met the first US Air Force Pilot to fly the Flanker. His normal aircraft was the Eagle. He said something to me that I find relevant to this conversation. He said, something to the effect: The SU-27 is an amazing aircraft. It’s power and maneuverability are very close to the F-15. I would not want to be in a dog fight with any of these SU-27 pilots I’ve been flying with, they are very, very good. But as long as I can knock them out of the sky 4 miles before they can see me I won’t have to …
Technology that provides responsive communication and relevant, timely, and accurate information; plus leadership that inspires the team to remain on task and on target will equal mission accomplishment.
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