Leadership and Technology

by Bonnie McEwan

Consider the relationship between technology and the way people lead. Once upon a time, before social media such as Facebook and Twitter, senior executives were able to manage the distribution of information. Depending on the sophistication of an organization and its communications staff, product announcements, policy changes, downsizing and other sensitive matters could be planned and rolled out in a measured way that was thought to be in the best interests of the organization. Now any employee, supplier, volunteer, client or board member with an Internet connection and half the facts can break your news – accurately or not – at any given moment.

How has this changed the way we lead, particularly in nonprofit organizations, where a premium is placed on collaboration and consensus? Is it still possible to spend the time needed to get everyone’s buy-in before disseminating important information? When is consensus building worth taking the risk of having someone put a half-baked version of your big news on his or her Facebook wall?

The challenges are compounded by the fact that the person leaking your news may have the best intentions. You remember good intentions. They’re the things that pave the road to hell. How do leaders manage information while maintaining goodwill among their multiple customers? And how do leaders meet the new expectations for transparency that are encouraged by social media and the egalitarian trends that undergird it?

If you hold a leadership role in a nonprofit organization and have experience or opinions on these issues, I’d like to hear from you for a book I am working on. I am defining ‘leadership’ broadly to encompass project directors, managers, team leaders, volunteer benefit coordinators, temporary employees, camp counselors, board and committee members and similar roles.

Please feel free to comment below. If you are willing to be interviewed or you prefer to respond in confidence, kindly email me at: McEwanLeadership at gmail.com Thank you!

Bonnie McEwan is President of Make Waves: Impact Marketing for Nonprofits.