Many of us are fascinated about what it takes to be a great leader. Ask Amazon.com for books on the topic and you’re given about 90,000 results. And you don’t have to go far to find inspirational quotes. Like former CEO of GE Jack Welch who said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” As Chief Information Officer at Accenture, I am fortunate to be surrounded by excellent role models. And I’m keen that everyone in my team benefits from clear direction and support so that they can develop their own leadership mind-set. I happen to think technology is what’s going to help us all get there.

As you’d expect from a CIO, I am constantly excited by what technology offers us. Today, there’s an ideal opportunity to get the best out of your tools and tech. In the last few weeks, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has reinforced this notion [1]. Speaking about the need to come together to combat COVID-19, Nadella said: “During this extraordinary time, it is clear that software, as the most malleable tool ever created, has a huge role to play across every industry and around the world. Our responsibility is to ensure that the tools we provide are up to the task.” 

Why tech is the leader’s friend in the workplace

Blazing the trail

In the CIO team, we pride ourselves on doing whatever needs doing, in whatever situation. Here's a couple of ways our leaders are blazing the trail and adapting how we use technologies to support our workforce in these difficult times:

  • Sharing the full richness of Microsoft Teams’ features: As I mentioned in my last blog, we’re already a massive user of Teams with our people logging 560 million minutes of audio each month and 30 million minutes of video conferencing. But there’s plenty more we can do with this versatile tool. We’ve just started to use a feature which acts as a “digital concierge”—an on-demand support facility for our leaders. The tool offers chat response services, across every time zone, on questions around Teams and virtual meetings. There’s advice from collaboration experts on features, settings, notifications and trouble shooting. It means our business leaders can help our people across the world to be better prepared, informed and equipped as we adjust to remote working.
  • Being a beacon of human resilience: Aside from our normal communications channels, we’re keen to reap the rewards from informal connecting. For example, our global IT leaders are taking it in turns to host a series of CIO Coffee Connects—informal video calls for anyone working in global IT. We’re all feeling the benefits from pausing a moment to connect, swap ideas and share our thoughts in a freeform way. We’re well aware that leaders need to manage, thoughtfully and empathetically, through this tough situation. We’ve pulled together a checklist for the C-suite, which we’re using ourselves, to better understand what’s going on with people. It’s about responsible leadership and applying compassion and care as people juggle these new circumstances. Creating new organizational and societal value by innovating responsibly with emerging technology is one way leaders can be responsible and foster human resilience.

Accenture has accelerated its remote working capabilities to be sure of business continuity, for us and our clients. We also put measures in place quickly to create an elastic digital workplace. What’s the impact of that? Well, you’re going to need that give and take to protect and empower your people remotely, serve your customers well and adapt how you keep the lights on in your business.

I’m looking forward to seeing how technology can be every leaders’ new friend—let’s communicate more, speak up, and help each other and, above all, stay safe.

 

[1] OnMSFT.com, March 23, 2020. https://www.onmsft.com/news/microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-sends-encouraging-company-wide-email-in-these-times-of-great-disruption-and-uncertainty

 

Penelope Prett

Chief Information Officer

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