Technology disrupts; it always has and always will. Tell me something I don’t know, you say. Stay with me for the next few minutes as we discuss how the inability of leaders to adapt to that disruption is costing our companies millions of dollars in lost revenue.
You know where you personally reside in the ‘technology adoption life cycle.’ Perhaps you are an ‘innovator’ on most things and if you are a leader, I’m willing to risk a guess that you are a ‘laggard.’ Not me, you respond. “I personally have the latest technology and I ensure my company is equipped with the best technology money can buy.” I have no doubt that is the case; where I want to challenge your thinking however, in the area leadership.
I want to suggest that as leaders, we are ‘laggards’ when it comes to adapting a new paradigm required for leading in a world that just changed, a world where the rate of change is nearing exponential proportions. Buckminster Fuller postulated that up until the early 1900’s the collective world’s knowledge doubled about every 100 years. By the end of WWII, it was doubling every 25 years, and some believe we are approaching a point soon where the worlds knowledge will double every 12 hours (why worry about ‘knowledge transfer’ when what we know today may be obsolete tomorrow, but that’s a topic for another article).
A world that just changed requires a fundamental shift in the way we lead if we want to leverage the technological disruption for the many advantages it offers. For simplicity sake, let’s label the original or current leadership paradigm as a transactional leadership contract. This transactional leadership contract is made between leader and employee. This contract is governed by a central question: What can you (as employee) provide for me in return for what I (as a leader with the power) can provide to you? The premise of this old leadership paradigm is all about extracting as much performance from people as humanly possible. It’s characterized by these 3 words: stability, predictability and control.
Let me ask you, do the words stable and predictable come anywhere near describing the world in which we find ourselves today? Ok, obvious answer.