Have you noticed how technology is subtly changing the role of leaders?
In The Art of Leading in the AI Age, the author, Bobbie van der List, notes a shift that’s been taking place in the role of leaders for a long time. Becoming aware of it, will equip us to make better decisions concerning how we structure and operate our companies, as well as present current leaders and groom our future leaders.
In 1954, Martin Heidegger, a noted German Philosopher, delivered a lecture, which noted how technology is changing the workplace. In “The Question Concerning Technology” he observed that different generations of technology have different ways of influencing human beings and behaviors, though the purpose is the dame to enable us to overcome our human limitations. The Mr. Van der list notes that as technology changes over time, it calls for company leaders to adapt different skills and styles to make the most of it.
For instance, in the premodern world, leaders were the “subject matter” experts. They mastered the tools and then taught others how to use them well. Think of Henry Ford, who was a car expert and then built a company around his ability to produce and distribute the technology.
In the modern world, leaders manage other people’s use of technology. Their skill set is being an organizer who can handle technology/machines and help coworkers who do most of the hands-on thrive. In other words, they are administrators who focus on creating conditions for using technology in a beneficial and responsible way. Everyone is relying on her/his experience and expertise.
In today’s digital era, the technology subject matter expert is an organizational midwife, who mediates the different reasons to use (or not use) technology. As a facilitator, she/he makes room for people with different needs to design their own ways of using the technology. She/he uses experience and expertise to help others trust themselves and one another to do the job they need to do within the business.
In other words, in the digital era, leaders have to resolve the conflicts between the traditional desire to free up people’s limited time and resources while also addressing the question of whether it’s appropriate and/or dangerous to ourselves and our surroundings.
Since technology is omnipresent in today’s it is possible for all three types of leaders to work at different levels of the company. Corporate leaders need to understand how to maximize their use.
Which level leader do you work with? What are the different challenges corporate leaders have to address with these different subject matter experts? Share with us your experiences!