In the digital age, leaders must be more dynamic, more cognizant of technology’s unintended consequences, and more willing to trust and empower their team members. With the massive amount of information available and continuously evolving web tools that are driving evolutionary and revolutionary change in almost every education, healthcare, and business application, leaders are now responsible for executing their craft in a complex and ever-changing system. This environment has added logistical and cultural complexities to the leader’s area of responsibility while simultaneously increasing connectivity to the work environment and blurring the distinction between work and non-work activities. As a result of these factors, leaders have many more productivity options, but also many more platforms that require management, more opportunities to misuse resources or miscommunicate with far-flung team members, more direct connections to work-related subject matter, and more contexts through which to offer guidance and direction. To succeed in this era, leaders must be able to communicate strategic goals, empower team members to explore and use web resources, understand the connective power of the web, and manage to remain focused in a rapidly changing environment. In these tasks, a leader’s job in the new digital age is to inspire productivity in an incredibly complex ecosystem that now includes in-person, web, synchronous, and asynchronous components. Doing this requires technological knowledge, trust, and the ability to contextualize strategic organizational goals and ground-level employee interactions in a faster, more social communications landscape.
In this course, we’ve examined the role of web leadership, and we’ve analyzed tools, assessed behaviors, and suggested techniques leaders can use to remain confident and capable in an internet world. During our discussions, I’ve been most struck by the changing nature of learning, and the increased pressure this puts on leaders as they build teams and develop strategies to increase employee capability. We are in the midst of the redefinition of ‘knowledge,’ with the ability to search for data quickly becoming as important as the possession of that data. By highlighting the quantity of information on the web, the increasing ease and decreasing cost of accessing that information, and the mobile nature of the new web experience, this course has convinced me that leaders will face a completely new training and capability management environment in the future. In this environment, leaders will be able to train employees in real-time to complete many tasks, and will rely on web applications to assist with the execution of tasks that previously required some pre-activity instruction. This change alters the relationships between experienced and new employees, and lessens the need to invest in lengthy, formal pre-employment training programs. While this influence is not specific to the training arena, I believe that skills transfer and employee learning are the areas that are most easily and notably disrupted by new web capabilities.
This course made me more aware of web technologies and tools, and convinced me that leadership in the web environment is about strategic knowledge and tactical trust. Web leaders must understand the web’s evolution and identify capabilities that are applicable for their business. Then, they must create working environments that support employee web engagement and interaction. In a dynamic world buffeted by evolutionary and revolutionary web changes, leaders are less able to manage and control information, and more able to up productivity and engagement with targeted web use. To succeed, leaders must recognize the viability of the web and embrace modern tools and communication techniques while simultaneously developing strategies to ensure employees represent their companies appropriately and safeguard company secrets. Moving forward, I will use the information I learned in this course to improve my professional web and social media presence, and I’m designing training solutions to account for the new learning environment. In doing so, my style will evolve to account for the tools I didn’t know existed and to provide opportunities for my employees to better use their talents and skills in a complex world that I cannot fully understand or hope to oversee.