Ah, the smartphone. Ever present in the daily lives of many. According to Pew (in data released earlier this month) a majority of Americans now own a smartphone. A closer look at the data reveals that 70% of Americans below the retirement age now carry a sophisticated internet-capable device in their pockets daily. Certainly the conversations about how this has helped and/or harmed society are many. But can your smartphone make you a better leader?
Lots of articles have been written about how a smartphone can impact organization and productivity. I’m here to tell you that your smartphone can help you become a better leader, that is it can help you exhibit the qualities that employees value and respond to in the workplace. Here are the top five things you can start doing today on your smartphone that will make you a better leader:
5. Use Reminders to Celebrate/Recognize. Most smartphones give you the power to schedule reminders. That is to say you can tell your phone to remind you at a time or in a place to do something. Is a large project concluding in a week or two? Set-up a reminder to stop by a contributor’s office, send the VP an email, or check in and thank each member of the team. Make this a part of your planning process for projects or whenever you prep for the week or month ahead. Does one of your direct reports have a birthday or work anniversary coming up? Schedule a reminder to pick up a card or use the location services feature to prompt you the next time you’re in Starbucks to pick up a gift card. Combine a bit of effort with a bit of technology and suddenly you’ve mastered the art of attending to “the little things.”
4. Record yourself. Do you need to give some delicate feedback to a direct report? Need to announce something in an upcoming staff meeting or team huddle that will require a deft touch? Do a dry run in your office and use the voice recorder on your smartphone to record yourself. Play it back and listen. How would a third party respond to your delivery? Can you hear your body language? Many leaders have no idea what they sound like until they do something like this. Nobody likes the sound of their recorded voice, so don’t allow yourself to dwell on that. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and evaluate your content as well as your delivery.
3. Refuel. Being a leader means having to constantly respond to the needs, wants, issues, questions, and whims of many. It’s an exhausting role. It’s critical to find quick ways to recharge in the midst of your day-to-day chaos. Does music help? Open the Pandora app to stream your favorite kind of music while catching up on email. Need a laugh? Look at a silly picture of your kids or pull up that funny email forward a friend sent you a while back. If you have a preference for Extraversion (on the MBTI) a call to a friend for a quick chat might be a great refueling strategy. Do you have a preference for Introversion? Take 5 minutes to play a game or read a newspaper article. Tune in to the ways you boost your energy and use your smartphone accordingly. The result? A better you for those you serve.
2. Listen to podcasts or books. What do you want to get better at? It’s very likely there’s a book or podcast for that. Many local libraries now offer services where you can download audiobooks or digital copies of books (that you could listen to with a reader app). You can find dozens of reputable books on virtually any leadership attribute. Download one to your smartphone and listen during your drive to work or on your lunch break. Put your headphones in at the gym and soak up some knowledge. Wherever you are your phone is likely with you. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can tear through a library of titles.
1. Join Twitter. Twitter has become the world’s premiere source of news, information, and connection. There is no better medium to help you keep your finger on the pulse of whatever you want to keep your finger on the pulse of. If you’re not on Twitter don’t let it’s reputation as a “social network” scare you off. It’s so much more than that. You can use Twitter every day and never publish a single “tweet.” Use Twitter to follow thought leaders in your industry. Follow the accounts of your professional organizations, alma maters, and companies you work for or would like to work for. Follow your accrediting board, respected authors in your profession, and leaders in your organization. You will very quickly discover a wealth of articles, tips, tricks, ideas, insights, and information you can use to become a better leader. Whether it’s a quote that serves as a source of inspiration or a powerful article you can email to the rest of your team, Twitter can immerse you in a world of what’s relevant to you. It’s information, reinforcement, networking, and inspiration all rolled into one seamless feed you can quickly check while waiting in line, riding the subway, or…yes…visiting the bathroom.
Want some great leadership accounts to follow? Follow Ken Blanchard @kenblanchard. Follow Leader Lab @LDRLB and the American Management Association @AMAnet. Those 3 accounts alone will provide so much leadership goodness you’ll be forever hooked. For MBTI insights I’m a big fan of @thembti, @DonnaDunning, and @CPPInc. And if you are so inclined, consider following the humble author of this very article: @joemull77.
Your smartphone is with you every day. Why not use it to grow as a leader each and every day as well?
(Now it’s your turn! What are other ways you can use a smartphone to become a better leader? Share your thoughts below!)