I still remember getting my first PC at work (1988), my first email (1992) and even proudly showing my dad how I could instantly alphabetize a long list of names with my spreadsheet. In the beginning, technology seemed like a special, almost magical addition to our lives. Contrast that with the influence of technology on your typical workday today:
- You draft all communications using a word processing program.
- The vast majority of these communications are then shared through email, websites or social media.
- You manage not only your budget but most aspects of your operation using a spreadsheet.
- You have a full library of documents you can access at a moment’s notice.
- You use an electronic calendar program to stay on schedule.
- You rely on the internet of all things for daily critical business information.
- You use financial and reporting platforms that communicate across your organization.
- It is unthinkable to leave home without your smart phone.
We have reached the point where technology has become integrated into virtually every aspect of our daily and work lives.
In light of this evolution, it seems crazy that the notion persists that the purchase and use of software solutions — which are absolutely critical for us to perform our most important functions — are somehow standalone “IT” decisions.
Let me explain what I mean. How many times have you heard an on-the-ground employee say, “Oh, my boss does not use the software” or that their boss does not even know how to use the software? In my experience this is an all too common condition. And a damaging one! Any organization, including school districts, needs to have all members of the administration looking at and understanding the software that their employees use in their day-to-day work. Otherwise, how can an organization determine whether the program is meeting their needs, or being used to its full potential?
Effective leadership today means that we do not view our information technology as something separate from our core mission. “We’ll have to talk to IT about that” needs to be a sentiment from the past.
Effective leadership in 2015 means being a continuous learner. It means that we are constantly acquiring and improving upon our technical knowledge and capabilities. It means that we take the time to learn all the functional capabilities of our software solutions, becoming fully knowledgeable about what these tools can accomplish. It means that instead of frustration with technology we have the attitude of “let me try to figure this out.”
And, most importantly, it means we model this attitude for our staff. Instead of the behind the back mutters of “the boss does not use the software,” let’s start hearing that our administrators lead by example in the sophisticated use of technology to move our organizations forward.