Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, gave the commencement address yesterday at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania in Philly (yeah, yeah, I know, all us Philadelphians eat soft pretzels and say things like "YO"... but we don't care, the Phillies are world champs, so "YO"!).
Schmidt gave some pretty interesting and somewhat controversial advice to Penn's new grads:
"You need to turn off your computer, turn off your phone, look at the people who are near and around you, and decide that humans are the most important things..."
This is some pretty heady advice for anyone, not just graduates, but especially for leaders. Here is one of the chief technology brains on the planet suggesting that technology has its place, but people come first (for those keeping score, this means: Technology 0 Humans 1).
Schmidt is saying in essence, humans are at the heart of everything, whether technology or culture or business or politics. It seems to me that keeping a human perspective is the best advice any leader can take to heart in our web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and growing world.
Effective leaders can use the latest technologies to communicate: they might Tweet and tape VODs and be LinkedIn and YouTube their latest messages for all the world to see, but in the end, they are communicating to people. Leaders who really "get" it use Telepresence and CUVA cameras, but they also connect with their teams the old fashioned way: shake hands, eye contact, one-on-one conversations.
So as you speak to your colleagues, teams, your customers, and your partners, yes, use the latest 2.0 technologies, they bring speed, clarity and innovation to your leadership platform, but don't forget that humanitas is at the heart of authentic leadership, not an Intel processor.