Leadership and Technology

The Poole Business Women’s Lunch Club were fortunate enough to have James Sale as guest speaker this week.  James’ presentation on leadership was highly engaging and relevant, discussing the differences between being a manager and a leader.


James has been generous enough to write this post for us on the same theme of leadership.


Leadership and Technology

“Leadership, as I often like to say, is the number 1 factor bar none that accounts for organisational success. Even if everything else is set-up to work, to be effective and to be efficient, a bad leader can screw up every advantage, natural or contrived. Nowadays we talk about the big three things driving organisations: People, Processes and Technology, and clearly leadership is in the first category.


My own company relies heavily on technology for its outcomes and its success. It would be true to say that even 15 years ago it would be difficult to conceive of how my company could have worked and functioned without the outstanding technological innovations of the last twenty years. So do I like technology? You bet! And yet I feel too that technology is becoming far too widely accepted without the scrutiny and critical analysis that properly belongs to a leader’s function (or one that the leader would and should commission). Put another way: there are at least three major problems with technology that leaders – in their rush to be successful – seem to conveniently ignore, and I would like to outline them here.


First, that technology has a dreadful habit of sponsoring co-dependence and ultimately servitude. We see this in the street or on the train: the men and women who cannot stop barking into a mobile phone; and those who cannot prevent themselves accessing their emails wherever they are, including at family socials. The great French writer Proust magisterially foresaw this as early as the late Nineteenth Century when a friend asked him to acquire a telephone and Proust asked what a telephone was. The friend patiently explained – it sat on your wall, it rang, you picked it up, you spoke with somebody miles away. But for Proust it was enough to know it rang – ‘I am the servant of that!’ he exclaimed. When bells rang, servants were summoned. He had no intention of being a servant to a bell ringing on his wall; he realised the essential infringement of his liberty that was contained in the very concept of a phone.

Which leads to the second point: the law of unintended consequences. We see technology as being a solution; but always with the solution there seems to be an accompanying deeper problem. After all, only thirty years ago the new technology was supposed to liberate us; we were only going to be working 2 or 3 day weeks as the technology and the robots took the strain. (Not much talk of that now, though, is there? – all conveniently shelved). But of course the precise opposite has happened. Now, with all this technology abounding, both partners HAVE to work, hours of work are massively extended, Sundays or days or rest barely exist in some sectors, and so it goes on. The technology that sets us free has enslaved us (and it has done other things as well when we consider the state of the Earth). What has the leader to say about this?


Finally, technology has subtly led to a belief system that is almost certainly false: the belief in ‘progress’, and in the utopia just round the corner. Just around the corner people will live to 150, just around the corner cancer will be cured, just around the corner there will be a better world in which everyone can chat on Facebook and they won’t need to fight anymore. Yea, just around the corner. As I said before, this belief has been going on for two hundred years, and it is a ‘belief’ – in the sense that it has no more substance than a dream. In many respects the Twentieth Century was the most horrific century in the whole history of the world – it’s difficult now to imagine it perhaps in the comfort of our Western armchairs – and technology played its full part in making it so horrific: the guns of World War One, the gas chambers of World War 2, the atomic bombs, the napalm and so it goes on.


Thus it is that leadership is about discrimination: the discrimination of ideas; of not accepting the prevailing wisdom and contemporary cant that passes for thought but is merely magazine fodder; of challenging the powers of orthodoxy who are bit by bit (and one may say, byte by byte) enslaving the world. We need leaders who harness technology on behalf of the people to empower them. So we are back to a fundamental distinction that many overlook who see technology as being an unlimited ‘good’: technology is good when it genuinely serves the interest of all the people, and technology is bad when it does the opposite – when dictators, plutocrats, oligarchs, ego-driven CEOs and MDs use it to exploit the last farthing out of people.”

We need leaders who understand this.”

Read more from James via his website http://www.jamessale.co.uk/



Engage Executive Jobs Motivational Contributor, James Sale, is Guest Speaker at Next Poole Business Women’s Lunch

We are all of us busy – busy in our businesses, busy as directors, as managers, as executives, but are we really busy being leaders? James will address four key questions surrounding leadership at our lunch on the 17th October: Why do we need to talk about leadership? What is leadership? Has leadership changed in the last 20 or so years as a result of new technologies? And what are the future challenges for leadership? As usual, James will present NOT the usual stuff, but stimulating ideas and suggestions based on his own experiences about the real issues we need to consider if we want to be truly effective!

This month we are pleased to have Sue Kerr from People Matter as our sponsor.

The Format for the Lunch is: 12.00pm – 12.20pm     Arrival, welcome drink and networking

12.20pm – 12.30pm     Sit down and intro by Frances and Tracey

12.30pm – 12.40pm     10 minutes round the table introduction

12.40pm – 12.45pm     5 minutes from our sponsor, Sue Kerr of People Matter

12.45pm – 1.15pm       Presentation from James Sale

1.15pm   – 2.30pm       Buffet lunch and more opportunities to network

Venue: Storm Fish Restaurant, 16 High Street, Poole, BH15 1BP  Telephone:  01202 674 970 Prices: Members  £18.00    Non-members  £26.00

Please make sure that you have returned your acknowledgement slip and paid for you lunch ASAP. You can pay by BACS or Cheque. Cheques should be made payable to Poole Business Women’s Lunch Club. If you’d like to pay by BACS please contact Rebecca who will provide the details. Payments will be forfeited if you are unable to attend and have not informed us within 48 hours. Unfortunately we are unable to guarantee a place until we receive payment. Please send Cheques and Acknowledgement slips to: Rebecca Ashling-Yates,  PBWL Club, Jobshop UK, 1 The Triangle, Bournemouth, BH2 5RY Acknowledgement Slip October 2013  Membership Form Speakers and Sponsors for 2013 Should you require any further information regarding the lunch, please give us a call (01202 674488) or take a look at our website www.businesswomenslunchclub.co.uk  We look forward to seeing you.