3 Ways Your Phone Is Hurting Your Leadership Ability

Your phone use may be damaging your business relationships.

Every organization in every industry is becoming more and more dependent on technology. That dependency comes with many perks obviously, but also has its drawbacks as well. With the accessibility of smartphones specifically, a 2016 assessment from the mobile platform and services provider Syntonic showed that 87 percent of companies expect employees to access business apps from their personal devices for work purposes. With apps to help with work productivity, scheduling and instant communication with vendors, clients and teammates, employers feel that their employees are more productive than ever before. However, as smartphone use increases, we are also starting to understand the problems with using phones too often.

Consider this important question to ask yourself as a leader: While companies want their employees to use their cellphones more, why should you as a leader try to use your cellphone less? The answer is simple – your phone can actually be hurting your leadership ability. Constantly being attached to your phone isn’t good for business relationships, especially with your employees. Consider the following problems with excessive cellphone use and how you can begin to curb the urge to pick it up all the time.

Problem No. 1: You don’t give the impression that you are approachable.

To be a good leader, it is important that your employees feel they can approach you with issues, comments, questions and ideas. However, if you are constantly on your phone, you are giving the impression that you are unavailable or at least less available. (Having your phone by your side during lunch and during meetings, for example, can give the impression that you are not fully present. Consider putting it away or leaving it in your office.) This can inhibit your employees from fully sharing their thoughts, and it can inhibit you from taking advantage of mentoring opportunities or even fully processing great ideas, or problems that need to be solved.

As a leader, you do have important phone calls and emails to answer, so totally turning off your phone is impossible. But try to find a balance between using your phone and talking to your employees – in person, on a regular basis. Determine how you can change your schedule to put your phone away for parts of the day. Consider your department’s schedule and decide when employees need you to be available. Then try putting your phone on silent or on “Do Not Disturb” mode.

Problem No. 2: Your employees feel snubbed.

The way you use your phone at work can have an impact on your employees. In fact, many employees feel brushed off when their employers stop talking to them to check their phone or to answer a call.

To be an effective leader, it is important to work on building your relationship with your employees. If you don’t have the full trust of your employees, your success rate as a leader will be limited. You may have great ideas, but without the support of your employees it will be difficult to implement them. Take the initiative to schedule meetings or lunches with your employees, or even stop by their desks from time to time to chat.

If you are in the middle of a conversation or a meeting with your employees and your phone rings, before answering consider first:

Am I expecting this call?
Is this really an emergency, or can I return the call when the meeting is over?
How will stopping the conversation now make the other person feel?
If you do have to be connected throughout the day, try using custom ringtones to differentiate between your VIP clients, family and general calls and texts. This is an easy way to determine if you have to answer a call immediately.

Problem No. 3: You can make mistakes.

Taking a phone call or answering a text message interrupts your thought process and makes you more prone to slip-ups. For example, if you are in the middle of explaining an important process to your employees when you answer a call, you may skip a step, or if you are writing an email and stop to answer a text message, you might forget to add a few key words. A study at Florida State University found that the probability of making an error increased by 28 percent after receiving phone calls and by 23 percent after getting text messages. You may catch your mistakes, but how much time are you wasting by fixing them?

Even something as simple as a notification can be enough to distract us from what we are doing. Our phones beep at us for everything, but are all of the beeps really necessary? Take some time to turn off unnecessary notifications and delete apps that you aren’t using.