Human Leadership In A Distracted Digital Age (Forbes)

Business leaders live in an increasingly complex, fast and disrupted world. Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple, which just reached a $1 trillion market cap, have changed the world we work in. Digital transformations, artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual journeys that impact our daily life are not likely to slow down and will most likely only accelerate in years to come.

In these new conditions, organizations need to better understand how to manage human performance while juggling new exponential expectations. So much of the business world is defined by the overwhelming flood of information, with email and text alerts highjacking our attention throughout the day. In this environment, it’s easy to lose ourselves in all of it, let alone avoid getting distracted from the key performance indicators we’re expected to deliver on.

As former tech consultant Nir Eyal shared in The Guardian, this may all be by design: “It’s the impulse to check a message notification. It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later.” None of this is an accident, he explains. It is all “just as their designers intended.”

No wonder it’s so easy to get distracted and overlook the phenomenon of our body, breath and mind, which are innate to our human experience and our ability to show up in the moments that matter at work. Tending to these faculties, to our humanness, is foundational to us being able to function as leaders. If we don’t tend to this, we risk losing our agency, our freedom under constant bombardment.

So how do leaders tune out the noise while staying focused? “Push harder,” “Be better,” grit and determination are the hero’s journeys that are deeply rooted in the American psyche. But are these ingredients for a productive and meaningful life today? What can organizations do to equip future executives with the skills they need to flourish in these conditions?

Here are three approaches executives can use to focus their attention back on the human side of work:

1. Honor yourself and realize your body and breath can be instruments to restore, energize and clarify your state of mind. Our mind should be able to perceive situations, people and experiences with accuracy and clarity. Our intellect should serve us to take in new information and to discern with wisdom.

2. Learn to honor others. We’re all wired to connect with others and benefit from building meaningful, long-term relationships. In fact, there is research that suggests that extreme social isolation will kill you faster than smoking or obesity, but we often overlook investing in relationships in our digital interactions.

3. Honor what you’re here to do. If we can find a big-picture reason, a purpose for what we’re doing, we can focus on that versus getting lost in the pressures and setbacks of the moment. When we figure out what our bigger purpose is, we won’t get so lost in short-term rewards and digital distractions.

At a minimum, we should honor the impact of these aspects of our human experience, our social connections and the meaning we give our roles. Ideally, we can move toward mastery of all these faculties, and we can then tap into the source of resilience.Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

Johann Berlin

Johann Berlin is a serial entrepreneur, international keynote speaker and advisor. A leadership writer at Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Real Leaders and Huffington Post, Johann is also Consulting Chief Learning Officer for Cooper Investors, a $13 billion private equity fund where he is integrating values-based investing principles into the firm’s culture fund. He is also Consulting Chief Learning Officer at Total Brain where he develops mental health and well-being content for clinicians, large consumer groups, and organizations. Johann is a leading voice on human-centered leadership, founding the Future of Humans at Work conference and podcast. Previously, he served as CEO and co-founder of Sustainable CitySolutions and was SVP of Sustainability and Strategy for JDI. As a board member, executive advisor and community volunteer, Johann is passionate about social ventures dedicated to resilient schools, local economy, prisoner rehabilitation, and youth leadership. Johann's TEDx talk has been viewed over 100,000 times.