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Leaders: How to be there when you are not there

Source | : By Bob Johansen

Most leaders I know today are at their best when they are there physically, in person as we say. When they are not present physically, however, there is often a big gap.

In a world of disruptions and as we move towards decentralized and distributed organizations (shape-shift organizations), leaders will need to have a presence at all times, anyplace, anytime. Sometimes, they will need to feel present everyplace, every time—without feeling intrusive. Leaders will need to make very smart decisions about when to travel and when to use which virtual medium in what way with whom. I have been working with senior executives for more than thirty years now, and my sense is that many of them travel too much and they travel at the wrong times. Certainly, some of today’s leaders—especially the younger ones—use today’s virtual media very well.

Being Present in Shape-shifting Organizations

Leaders will need to find new points of contact in the shape-shifting organizations within which they will be working. Leaders will need a new leadership presence, through a wide mix of media and in-person meetings in varied combinations. Leaders will need to create organizational cultures that are amplified by the increasingly rich mix of media options that will emerge over the next decade. Today’s smart phones and tablets will look quaint a decade from now. Those leaders who think they are in a futuristic world of telework now will be shocked by what is coming. Even when leaders are not present in person, they will need to have their presence felt.

Blended-Reality Presence

When I started studying teleconferencing and social media in the 1970s, most systems designers assumed that meeting face-to-face was the ideal medium for human communication. The (often-unstated) goal in those days was to design an electronic medium that came as close as possible to meeting face-to-face. However, we should be able to do better than using new technology to replicate what we did before.

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