Leading with Heart in the Age of Clicks

Sometimes I feel so disconnected from the world. Yet, as we navigate through the accelerating surge of technological advancements, our society increasingly leans towards instant gratification, facilitated by online shopping, video games, virtual meetings, and chat groups. While these developments offer convenience and access to information, they also pose significant challenges to our social fabric. The fundamental question that often crosses my mind is. How do we maintain essential social skills such as community-mindedness, respect, and kindness in this digital age?

Technology, particularly the internet, has transformed the way we interact with the world and with each other. The ability to obtain almost anything—from groceries to entertainment to social interactions—with a simple click, has reshaped our expectations and patience levels. This shift towards immediacy can erode our capacity to engage in meaningful, sustained relationships and community involvement, which are typically built and maintained over time.

The ease of connecting with others online can lead to social isolation. As I spend more time in front of screens, I realise the decrease in face-to-face interactions, which I believe is crucial for developing empathy, understanding non-verbal cues, and building deep, personal relationships. The risk is that as individuals become more self-centered and less patient, the fabric of community and collective responsibility can begin to unravel.

Despite these challenges, I have implemented several strategies to promote and retain my social skills in a technology-dominated world:

  • I consciously choose how and when to use technology. I find it beneficial to set specific times in my day to unplug and engage in face-to-face interactions. This habit helps me maintain a healthy balance between digital and real-world connections.
  • Choosing roles such as President of the Sutherland Shire Football Association and SSC Councillor ensures that I actively participate in local events and volunteer opportunities. This means that I have a physical presence in communal activities, which not only strengthens community bonds but also reinforces the importance of being part of a collective, growing feelings of belonging and responsibility.
  • My new hobby of gardening requires patience and long-term effort. This activity reminds me of the value of persistence and the rewards of delayed gratification, countering the instantaneity of the digital world. (It can also at times be frustrating as I am not such a great gardener. ) 
  • I strive to practice kindness and respect in every interaction, whether online or offline. I have found that simple acts of courtesy and consideration can have a ripple effect, promoting a more respectful and compassionate society.

As a CEO it is important to empower my team to embrace these values, I’ve started introducing several initiatives into our work week:

  • Having regular workshops that focus on developing leadership skills, emphasising empathy, active listening, and personal interaction. These sessions are designed to equip our employees with the tools they need to excel both personally and professionally.
  • Implementing guidelines that encourage mindful technology use. This includes designated periods during the workday when digital communication is minimised to encourage face-to-face interactions and deep-focus work.
  • We regularly organise team-building exercises that require collaboration and physical presence. These activities vary from community service to sports and creative projects, all designed to strengthen interpersonal bonds. This week was a team lunch with our TLC Dietician providing us useful tools for mindfulness eating.
  • Our mentorship program pairs seasoned employees with newer team members, facilitating a transfer of knowledge and fostering a supportive work environment.
  • We have created spaces within our office that encourage unplugged and informal interactions—areas like our sensory rooms promote relaxation and quiet time.
  • We actively seek and value feedback on our company culture and the impact of our policies on employee well-being. This feedback is crucial for ongoing improvements and ensuring that our practices truly benefit our team.

While technology continues to advance, it is important that we do not lose sight of the human elements that define us: our ability to connect, empathise, and support one another. By sharing these personal experiences and strategies, I hope to inspire others in leadership positions by my actions to reflect on how they can contribute to a more connected and empathetic world.

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Contact Laura Cowell