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Q: How are technology and other advancements changing the role of leadership?

A: Technological advancements are making leadership at once easier and more challenging. Communications technology, for example, makes leading easier because leaders can now connect with more of their constituents faster and more effectively than ever before. With the tools of social media, leaders can have virtual town hall meetings. They can do instant polls to take the pulse of their constituents. They can gather suggestions and creative ideas more broadly. And they can engage others in more meaningful ways.

But for these same reasons, technological advances mean that it’s much easier for constituents to voice their opinions, offer customer suggestions, complain about the kinds of service they are receiving, and recruit people to their causes. And this is exactly why trust and credibility are so important. When people see their leaders as credible and worthy of their trust, these tools can truly enhance the work of leaders. But, when there is little trust and credibility, then the results can be very disruptive for leaders.

Jim Kouzes is the Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. Cited by The Wall Street Journal as one of the twelve best executive educators in the U.S., he was also winner of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award by Trust Across America. Together with Barry Posner, he is author of The Leadership Challenge—now in its fifth edition—and over thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including the most recent Learning Leadership.

Adapted from an interview with Jim Kouzes, What Makes a Good Leader? Originally published in Gulf Business, the premier business monthly reaching leaders across the Middle East, including UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (12.2014).


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