Leaders Vs. Smartphones


We get it. You’re Busy!!! There are people constantly emailing you asking questions, for updates, reports and decisions to be made. Friends and family are texting you for dinner and weekend plans. Your Facebook and Twitter are blowing up because of a cool picture you recently posted. You’re a very busy and popular person and you need to check your phone constantly to stay up to date. But do you really?

As a leader, you need to be much more aware of your smartphone usage when interacting with your teams. We all have the urge to look at our phone when there’s an alert. Phantom vibration is a real thing and people gets anxious when they can’t check their phones when they think there’s an alert pop up. But when you constantly check your phone while interacting with your team members, it sends the entirely wrong message. The time you are interacting with your members are not only your time but it’s also their time. Checking your phone sends the message that you have something else more important going on. It sends the message that you have other priorities and the person across from you are not as important. It shows that your mind and attention is elsewhere and that anything to be said will not be heard.

Your members may not say anything directly to you and may even empathize for you because they understand that you may be busy. However, ongoing and consistent behavior like this will lose empathy and understanding. Knowing that you’re not paying attention or even listening, people will say less and will not put in the effort to make the communication have any value. As you show a lack of respect to others, others will eventually lose any respect they’ve garnished for you.

Understanding the impact it has when constantly checking your smartphone while you’re interacting with your team members, it may still be a challenge not to do so. Here are a few tips that may help you.

  • Simply turn off your phone if you have to be in a meeting.
  • Don’t have you’re phone within reach while meeting or interacting with other members.
  • Keep the meeting short, quick, direct and to the point. Make sure that everyone is allowed to say what they need to say, and you get all the information across. Then end the meeting. You can return to your smartphone at the conclusion of the meeting without making others feel disrespected.
  • If you’re really waiting for an important message, excuse yourself form the meeting or the conversation. Let them know that you are expecting something urgent. People will understand and appreciate you more for it.

Ultimately, leadership is about building relationship, trust, bond and respect. Your messages and alerts from your smartphone will be there waiting for you, but when you’re in front of your members, treat them with the respect and give them the attention they deserve, which you would also expect them to give to you. Next time you’re in a meeting or just having a conversation, fight the urge and keep your smartphone out of sight.

Photo by: Sven Mieke

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