Analog Leadership Meets the Digital World

— Faster isn’t always better…

Analog

Analog… “Analog…” Analog… it sounds so, well, old.

Leadership, in its most successful, meaningful form, is not about size, scope, or reach. It’s about relationships. Trusting relationships. Our followers trust those they hold out as leaders when:

  1. That leader demonstrates appropriate competency for their position,
  2. The leader demonstrates integrity (does what she says she’ll do), and
  3. The leader convinces them they have some level of empathy; that they care as much about the subordinate as they do themselves.

Leadership is entirely personal. It’s about people. It’s all about trust!

Have I beat you to death enough with this yet?

We live in an age where the digital medium reigns supreme. Where information, both broad and narrow in scope, can be transmitted instantaneously and simultaneously, across vast networks and collections of people, and in fact happens countless times each day.

That makes it more, not necessarily better.

Sharing information is not the same thing as communicating. And communications are necessary to build that trust we speak of so frequently. Trust, friends, is the very currency of leadership.

You can inform digitally. You lead personally. Information can be digitized; leadership is—and always will be—analog.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m a long way from a Luddite; I blog, tweet, and facebook. I manage my LinkedIn account, send this electronic newsletter, and subscribe to a multitude of feeds, blogs and forums. I use dropbox and evernote, write using dictation software, carry a tablet for shorter trips, and have a smartphone roughly 10x of the total computing power of NASA in 1970. My smokin’ Surface Pro syncs with my phone and multiple tablets, and I can access every file I’ve ever created from literally any electronic device I own, at any time. I use this stuff.

The digital age has allowed productivity efficiency and connectedness to thrive. Some would say, almost too much connectedness… but that’s another topic altogether.

But twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, email and text messaging are no substitute for personal—analog—leadership. Once our leadership credibility becomes well-established, digital communications can certainly help reinforce a leader’s message… can inform of things relevant… can even better connect leadership with those seeking direction. But please, make no mistake:

It’s leadership first, digital communications a distant second.

Effective leaders, then, can use the digital medium—in all its forms, including social media and even text messaging—to expand their reach and provide information in real time. But please note: I said, “Effective” leaders.

If you’re still wearing leadership floaties, or are in some fashion struggling with that “effectiveness” part of the equation, then you, friend, belong squarely in the analog world for now; at least as it pertains to your leadership growth, credibility, and success.

But hey, it’s not all bad—at least you don’t have to hold your head at arm’s length to get a signal…

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