Once again, this week’s material has provided much food for thought for all aspiring leaders. I think this is especially true for those of us among this group of doctoral students who are older. I will be celebrating my 60th birthday this month and I certainly consider myself among that group of old-timers. Needless to say, I am not a digital native. I am constantly reminded of this fact and this week provided me with yet another reminder. As I watched the videos on Google Glass, which I had read about but had assumed were simply a product in the prototype stage in the same way that we have engineers working on driverless cars, it occurred to me that these may actually be on the market. I quickly got on Amazon and found that for $1,500-$1,900 I could buy myself a new pair! My point being that what I assumed was still in the “science fiction” stage had already reached the open market with unprecedented speed.
Shirky’s epilogue (2008) offered a reflection on some advantages of youth in the tech arena and I wholeheartedly agree. However, aspiring leaders cannot forget that the workforce in the organizations that we lead are made up of lots of people such as myself who are reasonably well educated and yet consistently surprised and overwhelmed by the technological capabilities that are suddenly placed at our fingertips. Sensitivity to the steepness of the learning curve for some is called for. We should be less tolerant of those who show no interest in learning or no desire to change their ways. If we are to remain productive at the level that competitive societies demand, these new tools have to be learned and incorporated into our daily means of living productive lives. Just show a bit of patience with those of us born in the 1950s!
My other bit of advice to aspiring leaders is to not be overwhelmed by the flash, bells, and whistles of technologies to the point that we think that our job as leaders is to simply provide these tools for a modernized workforce. I believe that good leaders must always be well grounded in a personal integrity that is blended with a set of interpersonal relational skills that allows for good communication and an ability to convey a vision about the ultimate purpose of the work of an organization. Vision, and the ability to articulate it , remains critical.
There is a passage from Scripture which has always been referred to by many spiritual teachers as a succinct summary of what is asked of all of us.
“You have been told, oh Mortal, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: “Only to do justice, love what is good, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).
No matter how much change technology brings to the world, nor how fast it comes, great leaders will still 1) act justly 2) love what is good and 3) remain humble. The past two years at Creighton have taught me that this set of principles for living are deeply congruent with Jesuit values that have stood the test of time for the past five centuries – a time of tumultuous technological advance. I am fully confident in placing my trust in these same three principles written 3,000 years ago.
Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. New York: Penguin Press.