How leadership development must evolve with technology


Leadership development changes with the world it is a part of. It’s well-established that everything is going digital, and the best leaders must adapt to it. 

Anywhere, anytime

“They say, in real estate, success is based on location, location, location. Well, in coaching, we will be saying technology, technology, technology.”  – Brad Federman, F&H Solutions Group

The model of coaching as a one hour sit-down every Wednesday doesn’t match the working lives of many leaders. Increasingly, coaching is becoming a remote experience snatched from whatever minutes happen to work that week. The rise and rise of video calling means that distance and time zones matter less and less. Coaches can be on-call when you need them. 

This is pretty useful for as-you-need-it support, but there’s also a limited amount of introspection that can occur in fifteen minutes between two other mind-demanding appointments. If coaching is going to bring out the deep potential of leaders, intentional time will still need to be carved out.

There’s an app for that

Gamification works by making technology more engaging, and by encouraging desired behaviours, taking advantage of humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.” – Jon Radoff, Game On: Energize Your Business with Social Media Games

An old limit of leadership development used to be, ‘How do you keep learning between training/coaching sessions?’ It was easy for learning to be forgotten in the everyday, or forced out by the pressures of the next deadline. 

With the rise of technology, there are now digital coaches like Everskill and AI programs like Volume to fill in the gaps. Especially when it comes to team development, these resources can increase engagement by a significant degree. Digital coaches can embed learning via nudges during ordinary office hours – prompting the practice of new habits. Whereas other AI programs can teach specialised training or reinforce an organisation’s culture via app.

There’s also the video game factor. Leadership development processes don’t exactly look like Call of Duty but they have more in common with it than you might think. Static forms of learning are going through gamification and are developing teamwork and key skills in a surprisingly effective way. Such a shift naturally attracts scrutiny because it appears the company budget is being channelled into ‘fun’. But as the digital age keeps spiralling upwards, traditional development strategies will have to embrace gamification.

What kind of leaders will we need?

A lot has been written about…artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, etc. Some describe a future where most of the work still done by human beings will require strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.” – Kathy Bernhard, KFB Leadership Solutions

As more responsibilities are passed into the hands of technology, many forms of traditional expertise will depreciate in value. But the importance of being creative, daring and resilient as a leader will only increase. Processes may require less attention, but leadership will be as essential as ever. 

The world will still need adventurers, dreamers and leaders with the tenacity to take on the status quo. People who can ask better questions and stay steady in the face of the unknown. And while there is speculation about the possibility of imbibing robots with emotions, the emotional intelligence of the internally agile leader will not be replaceable.

The continuing rise of technology could kill off poor leadership coaching by natural selection. It will certainly force leadership development to move away from old models. When so much is being done for us, the power to make a real difference as a human being will depend increasingly on how deep we are willing to go to do the work on ourselves.

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