I had a lunch recently with a colleague who is also in the field of executive development. He is doing some personal research and writing on the challenges of leading in a virtual world filled with a multitude of distractions that continually take people on off ramps to wherever their unfocused curiosity takes them. We had an interesting dialogue on the topic and it got me thinking. There is a staggering statistic that says two-thirds of social network users do so mostly at work – think about that productivity drain.
As a leader, how can you engage and keep the attention and focus of others when the smartphone on their hip is vibrating, they stand transfixed in front of abundantly accessible flat screens everywhere watching weather updates, stocks tickering and shots of riots in Greece and everyone in a meeting has white iPod earphone wires hanging out of their ears? Obviously your leadership has to cut through the noise so that, metaphorically speaking, it is your ‘news’ on the screen, your voice in the headphones and your message causing the smartphones to vibrate. However, you have to be follow-able! You have to give people something to follow to wake them up from their semi-comatose state of distractibility and vagueness.
I contend that these days more than ever demands leadership that is clear, compelling and courageous and that has an intensity of purpose, focus and direction that carries greater amplitude and altitude than the competing and incessant distractions that assault us daily. Dial it up! Be bold! Stand out! Be concise! And above all be clear! If you don’t you are just another distraction. There is an adage that goes “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”. Better know where you are going so there is something and someone to follow.