Four Ways to Extend My Digital Leadership

Digital spaces beckon me. I enjoy quickly scanning my Twitter feed for interesting tidbits. I’ve loved reading about Ontario educators’ #oneword in the Google+ community.  I blog here. Still, I wonder what more I need to do as a leader.  Jennifer Casa-Todd, digital educator, challenged the audience recently with a thought provoking question at a keynote address in our district. She asked, “How do you exemplify digital leadership?”

Leadership is the exercise of influence. It’s not about telling others what to do (much as some may dream of snapping their fingers and making it so), but rather building a culture where others take on new challenges, work to be their very best and openly share what they’ve learned.

Influencing the use of digital tools is a challenge for me, however. While I use those tools with relative ease to communicate, create and share, others do not feel comfortable doing so. So I’m not sure it’s about being an exemplar. When we exemplify something, we show how it can be done at its best. That’s important, but this kind of modelling only goes so far. Having a great model can inspire. It can also demotivate or even paralyze.

So I’m thinking more about how to extend my digital leadership to influence a culture where people may be willing to try.

  1. Using the digital spaces in our organization.  Be present in the platforms that are provided. I know what they are and how they work. Am I using them to their full advantage?
  2. Interacting on Twitter.  Retweeting. Commenting on tweets. Replying. Liking. Connecting with others.
  3. Sharing links and articles.  If it resonates, I share. If it made me think, I share. If I don’t completely agree, I share.
  4. Share the thinking in my blog.  This one is more difficult for me.  I’ve been leery of pushing myself forward, but why not? I welcome conversations about what I write here. Transparency may help others to be admit what they don’t know.

I feel comfortable in digital spaces. Can I help others feel the same way?

Giving In to the Temptation of Email

Photo Credit: mbiebusch via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mbiebusch via Compfight cc

This learning thing is hard.  In February 2014, I wrote a post about Learning From My Mistakes. One of the things I talked about was using email for communication and how tricky that can be. It was a good post, honest and true.  If only learning was as easy as writing a blog post!

Like you, I receive a fair bit of email. I also have a bit of an obsession about keeping my inbox clear. (On a side note, sometimes I delete too much. I’ve had to ask a colleague for a certain information email more than once – you’d think I would learn.) In any case, if I’m clearing my email later in the day and know it’s urgent to respond, I can succumb to the temptation of email. I put sensitive information that would be better shared in person or through a phone call.

This past week, I responded to several important emails that way. I tried to be ultra clear in my responses and read over the emails before I sent them. Of course, they lacked the human touch, because email can never convey that.  I went to bed, satisfied that I had dealt with those issues.

But I really hadn’t. Sometime over the course of the night, my brain realized that I had gone against my commitment to better communication. I needed to pick up the phone.

So I did. And I apologized and said I would do better.  Folks graciously accepted my apology and we had a good discussion about the issues. But I wish email wasn’t so seductive.