There are many characteristics and tips one can learn in how to grow as a leader. We have a plethora of books to read and a saturation of conferences to attend. Like viewing the options at a very large buffet, we’ve more than enough options for leadership development. Many times, we’ll see an overlapping of principles and lessons taught. There’s only so much one can learn about being a leader. There’s the art of delegation, the art of listening, empowering others, servant-leadership, developing communication skills, developing successors or succession plan, etc. However, typically, one area that has been missing in the past was the area of technology. I believe that only in recent years has the topic of utilizing technology started to come up and even more so with the advent of the internet and mobile devices.
Here, I want to share three types of technology, specifically cloud-based apps/programs, that I use in my leadership capacities. In various ways, I think this can be useful for anyone to be and to grow as a leader.
I primarily use Dropbox and Skydrive for my storage (and sometimes Google Drive; more on that below). Basically, these are programs in which you store files onto your computer through the Dropbox or Skydrive folder. These are then synced with your account online, which then allows you to access them from multiple locations. For example, I’ve Word documents and powerpoint notes that I took while in seminary. I saved them to my Skydrive folder on my computer. Now, I can access those files while on my computer (via the regular Windows file system), on my iPhone and iPad (via the Skydrive app), and on someone else’s computer (via signing into the Skydrive website on their browser). Additionally, you can share files with others and/or send it to them by creating a link for them in these programs.
So how do I use this in terms of leadership? I put into Dropbox/Skydrive all the pertinent files that I need for whatever organization or event I’m leading. For example, I’m the youth coordinator for Chinese Missions Convention in 2013. I’ve put all our documents on Google Drive and Dropbox so that in our high-level meetings, I can easily access the relevant information through my iPhone. This allows me to keep my laptop at home. I’m also able to share the documents that I’ve created so far in planning for the event with my teammates. Cloud-storage allows me access and sharing of information quickly and easily. As a leader, you don’t need to remember everything, you just need to be able to access and get information out quickly.
To get started on Dropbox, click here.
To get started on Skydrive, click here.
This category is similar to the one above, but instead of merely storing files, you’re working on files. My two programs here would be Evernote and Google Drive. In short, each allows me to create documents through their program and then access it anywhere. Evernote’s strengths are primarily in taking down ideas and Google drives’ is in collaborative work.
How does I use these in terms of leadership? For Evernote, I take down notes for blog and/or sermon ideas. If I come across a good sermon illustration, I write that down. I also use Evernote, though the Chrome extensions of Peek and Clip to Evernote, to save good blogs that I read (remember: if you want to lead, you got to read). Lastly, I use Evernote to record my own sermons so that I can listen to them afterwards and critique them. This is part of the process of self-evaluation for self-growth. For Google Drive, I primarily use it in the context of meetings. I hold a video conference call with my core team for the CMC youth program about twice a month. During those meetings, we all sign into Google Drive and open up the document that holds our agenda. This allows us to be on the same page, to know what we need to talk about and take down notes together. As a leader, holding good meetings is important. You want to stay on track, you want to be respectful of people’s time, you want to keep people engaged, and you want to accomplish the goal(s) set for the meeting. Google drive can help with that.
To get started on Evernote, click here.
To get started on Google Drive, click here.
If you want to lead, you need to read. This is a drum that’s been beaten so many times from leadership books, seminars and conferences. While the concept can be developed more fully another time, here’s how I apply this through technology. I buy most of my books now through Kindle, Amazon’s product line of tablets and e-book readers. The beauty is that its also a program that allows you to buy books through them and then read it on any device (smartphone, tablet, laptop). Kindle also syncs among devices your reading location, the bookmarks used and quotes highlighted. Best of all, you can access your whole library from a single small device (smartphone, tablet, etc) anywhere
How do I use this in terms of leadership? Easy. It removes barriers to reading and it encourages me to read. If you want to grow as a leader, you need to read. Using the Kindle app accomplishes that for me.
With the increase availability of smartphones, wifi and 4g/LTE, I believe there are a lot of tools to help you as a leader. While this entry merely skims the top, hopefully it’ll get you started in thinking of how to leverage technology toward your benefit. They are not substitutes for leadership, but they are supplements to leadership. Use what you can to grow as a leader as well as leading.