We all know them, or at least know of them. The stodgy old boss who steadfastly — even proudly — refuses to use email. Or PowerPoint. They’re barely able to manage the phone. They’re the king of the pocket dial. And voicemail? LOL.
They give interviews where they announce this as just some kind of quirky trait. They usually say it with a smile and an “aww, shucks” grin. Everyone chuckles, then quietly wonders how they became successful.
And when asked how they get anything done, it’s: “my admin reads my email and prints out the important ones.” Or “I have a guy who does all my PowerPoints, I barely know how to work the clicker.” Or worst: “my girl does all that.”
Yes, we all know who gets the real work done. It’s their administrative assistant. Their team. All they do is lead. And how do they do that? In person. Most leaders’ have a management style that is most effective when practiced in person. They lead by earning trust, through persuasion, and by example. These are most effective up close.
The tech-averse people do it that way too, but even more so. They rely on being face-to-face. They cajole, they corner, they badger, even threaten. They get things done through sheer force of will. And they do it in person.
So what about now? What about in the age of CoronaVirus, in the time of mandatory work from home? How do these face-to-face leaders who can’t even work a cell phone handle it? In a word: badly.
They’re burning up the phone lines trying to get their style to work over the phone. They’re asking their kids to help them figure out how the computer works. They’re struggling to understand what Zoom is and why everyone cares.
Where’s their admin now? At home. With everyone else. And they’re probably laughing themselves silly, in between wondering if they and their boss will have a job this time next year.
Don’t be that leader. Even if you’re terrible at PowerPoint. Even if you can barely type, and your emails are largely filled with misspellings. Whatever you do, if you’re going to learn one piece of technology, learn how to video conference. It will be how you lead. Now, and probably into the future.