Servant Leadership: The Key to Getting the Most Out of a Technology-Driven Workplace

Effective user adoption is a sticking point in many roll-outs of business technology and, like with most organizational initiatives, it falls on leadership to find solutions. We’ve all read about the benefits of tactics like executive modeling, pilot studies and digital mentorship programs, but the drawback of many of these tactics is that they go from the top down. They’re leadership directives designed to serve organizational initiatives, and too often the people actually using the technology risk getting lost in the shuffle.

Whether it’s video conferencing equipment, a unified communications suite or artificial intelligence, technology isn’t going away. If anything, it will only become an even greater driver of modern-day business. But this begs the question of who business technology is designed to serve — the employer or the employee. Yes, business technology should always work in service of our business goals, but tailoring our technology investments to the lives of our people may be the best way to achieve those goals.

The Role of “Servant Leadership”

In a recent article on TalentCulture, contributing writer Art Barter explores the concept of “servant leadership” and how it’s a paradigm that helps us refocus our leadership investments on the lives of our people as opposed to the functions they perform at work. Rather than employees serving their leaders, servant leadership flips that model on its head and leaders serve their employees. Unfortunately, in a competitive, outcome- and profit-driven business landscape, this line often gets blurred. And introducing expensive, sophisticated technology can blur the line even more.

The Intersection of Servant Leadership and Technology

Modern advancements in technology both threaten and empower the servant leadership mentality. It’s no secret that collaboration and productivity technologies can streamline cumbersome business processes and connect people in ways we  never could have imagined. But the line between these apps being an augmentation of our employees’ skillsets and an interruption to their workday can get crossed if we take the wrong approach to greenlighting the investment. We may introduce a new phone system or project management tool with the best of intentions, but if it doesn’t align with our employees’ needs, work styles and even personal lives, the investment risks falling flat.

In other ways, technology enables us to use servant leadership to make our business better. Take the example of hiring an employee where you’re debating whether to keep your talent search local or invest in the technology to allow someone to work remotely. Consider how your decision will impact your staff, business and overall company culture:

  • What is the long-term ROI of investing in the technology to free your staff up to work remotely?
  • Are you eliminating top-notch talent from your search by keeping your hiring local?
  • Are the upfront technology and ramp-up costs of bringing on remote talent worth forcing someone to uproot their family and move to a new location?
  • What are the long-term costs of maintaining a 100% in-house staff (commuter time, workspace rental, hardware upkeep, etc.)?

Focusing on these people-first considerations helps us ensure the resources we invest in — technology and all other kinds — empower our employees’ lives and work styles and don’t impede them. Whether it’s taking steps to enable employees to work remotely or integrating a phone system with a CRM to help a staff member save time during the day, our technology decisions have lasting impacts on our people and our businesses, and, as leaders, it’s important we appreciate that fact.

At Select Communications, we strive to go out of our way to align our technology, processes and operations with the needs of our employees. It’s for this reason that we will always employ a 100% remote workforce. Our number one core value is to take a people-first approach to business, and if there are leadership decisions we can make that help empower the well-being of our clients, partners and employees, we are going to take them — no questions asked.

You can learn more about Select’s core values here, and if you’d like to start a conversation about leadership principles, feel free to drop a line to our CEO, Jerry Goldman!