The digital age has created a hyper level of connectivity. As a result, society has developed an increased appetite to connect. Seeking connection, individuals look at their smartphones 85 times per day or an average of every 8 minutes. Moreover, millennials do the same more frequently, or to be precise, twice as much, an average of once every 4 minutes.
Today, we can connect with literally every person in our life by clicking an App on our phones. We can research an entire information genre or locate an obscure bit of information in a matter of seconds. We could be in New Jersey having dinner while conversing with a friend who is busy shopping for clothes in Hong Kong. This connectivity and the speed at which we can accomplish it expand even further with each new technological breakthrough.
We are in a new world of a new order. Individuals aged anywhere from four years old to ninety-four voraciously embrace this new accelerated way of connecting. There is no denying the elegance it offers in both our business and personal lives. Thanks to technology, we have the freedom to connect to each other in the world around us anytime and anywhere. But are we connecting at a deeper level, or are we being distracted by this freedom?
Not long ago, my daughter and I attended a sold-out show at the Microsoft Nokia Theater in Los Angeles to see a new kind of celebrity: a YouTube star. Her name is Colleen Ballinger, and she performs as a character known as Miranda Sings.
After amassing millions of YouTube subscribers to her YouTube channel, she embarked on a national tour. Without a doubt, she is a gifted performer. Her humor, monologues, and sketch comedy routines are brilliant. With little money, powered by her own creativity and technology, she propelled herself to international fame.
There are many performers in various creative areas just like her, connecting with millions of people to create their unique tribes of fans. Her success would have been impossible before the digital age. However, that is not the point of this story.
What happened that night at the performance illustrates the challenge of this new level of connectivity freedom. She asked for volunteers for a particular comedy sketch, and literally, half the audience of 7,100 young people raised their hands begging to be picked to come up on stage. She milked the interaction with the audience for jokes, choosing and then refusing individuals. Finally, she settled for one fortunate guy.
He came up on stage visibly thrilled to be standing next to his millennial counterpart, who he adored. Before she could begin the next part of the routine, he whipped out his cell phone and started taking selfies. She grabbed the phone and, with a strong dose of both humor and seriousness, said, “You’ve got to be kidding! You’ve got the chance of a lifetime to be here on stage with me. Instead of enjoying this moment, you’re taking pictures! Give me that phone!” She returned it after the skit.
Here was a digital star berating her digital fan for taking digital photos. At that moment, I had a digital epiphany. Technology both creates and disrupts the connection. Unfortunately, this follower got lost in technology. Instead of enjoying the exquisite opportunity to be present with his idol, he chose to make a poor decision and record, missing the moment of a deeper connection.
This same loss of connection is rampant in the business world. A manager is on a conference call with the team. The members of the team are half-listening, simultaneously checking and reading emails. At meetings, individuals fondle their cell phones, anxiously anticipating the break to check messages. I was recently leading an executive leadership workshop, and one of the participants had three smartphones on the table in front of him, as if one wasn’t smart enough.
Therefore, it is true the technology is both creating and disrupting the connection. Every email, instant message, phone message, alert, tweet, and new posting on social media, diverts attention from the real power source in leading others.
Leadership in the age of disruption is more challenging. Intention and attention are needed to avoid and overcome distractions. It is the responsibility of the leader to create this more profound connection. You must capture “more of their hearts.”
Look at the history and the story of all great leaders. Great leaders possess the ability to capture the heart, the mind, and the spirit of those they lead. And in doing so, they were able to accomplish the impossible, whether it be to free India from British rule, abolish Apartheid in South Africa, walk on the moon, or row across the English Channel into battle with little regard for their own lives.
Enlightened Leadership requires connection to the whole person, and digital media, besides being a distraction, is severely limited in this way. Digital media communication is perfect for the communication of data and information relevant in the time/space continuum, like a text saying I’m running 10 minutes late. However, it’s not ideal for heart-felt leadership communication.
All leadership requires a team. This is true for any great vision to manifest. By listening and connecting on a deeper level, the Enlightened Leader easily and effortlessly discovers the powerful co-creative energy that evolves naturally. This is the channel for the ideas, creativity, and solutions to become manifest. That is precisely how the Enlightened Leader creates a team that is inspired and motivated from within.
Total engagement from your team requires Enlightened Leadership. The Enlightened leader is 100% high-tech and 100% high-touch. When the miracle of technology is paired with the even more miraculous power of the human heart, everything becomes possible.
“A leader is a dealer in hope.”
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