Leading in the Digital Age
Today we are in the Digital age and there are new rules for effective leaders. Leaders today must have an eye on the future. What worked well yesterday, may not be effective in the future.
In this new world of work, one thing is clear: digital technologies affect every organization.
Leaders must adopt a new mindset on how they lead their companies. The old-style strategies will fall short in today’s digital age.
Typically, leaders would look at outward competitive environments and then adjust internal processes and procedures to meet the changes. This old approach will set their organizations up for failure in a rapid digital work environment.
Leaders often look for strategies and then pass off the mundane internal processes of execution. Today, digital organizations must focus on the internal processes, how people work and technology. This is a fundamental shift for leaders. Leaders need to focus not on being the smartest person in the room but the one who can bring together creativity, innovation, and accountability.
This is not an easy task and uncomfortable in a constantly evolving digital landscape. Today we are in a digital continual changing environment. Leaders can no longer rely on silos and hierarchical org charts. Leaders must empower people throughout the organization to identify what customers want. This is the leaders’ management responsibility. The CEO and executive team lead the way!
Command-and-Control Business Models Must Give Way to Distributed Leadership
Without a crystal ball, it is impossible to know which jobs and products will become obsolete and what will be created. Leaders must adapt quickly or risk extinction. At some point, everyone in the organization will need either re-skilling (learning new skills) or up-skilling (learning current skills more deeply).
Upon surveying and interviewing over 3,000 working Millennial’s we have a good understanding of what is needed from managers and leaders. There is wisdom in listening to, talking to, and observing what Millennial’s do and what they value. In my 25+ years of studying the generations, the leadership clues for the future have started to emerge.
What Needs to Change?
1) Leadership mindsets need to change
2) Leadership skill sets need to change
Mindsets Enable Skill Sets
The biggest problem is the mindsets. It is easy to talk about the new skill sets, however, it is the new mindsets that MUST be supported and enabled by leadership for the new skills to become part of the normative organizational culture.
For example, employees will be less innovative if innovation is not supported and modeled by the executive team, and the management team. These new mindsets must be demonstrated on a daily basis. It is the mindsets that set the tone for the whole organization.
In this article, I am going to address two of the key mindsets. I will address additional mindsets and the skill sets at a later time. One may want to keep on eye on my future blog posts for updated information on this topic. Then, I will give you three quick leadership tips.
I will briefly address two of the key mindsets: Resiliency and Trust
Resiliency: No matter how strong you think your business model is…. there are teams of people out there who are trying to make your model obsolete. In this ever-changing environment, leaders need to be able to create flexible teams that collaborate effectively with both internal and external partners. They can’t do it alone, so they must be able to cultivate those skills in others. Leaders must replace toxic leaders with adaptive leaders at all levels giving them autonomy to be innovative.
Trust: is the foundation block. Only in trusting relationships do we feel safe taking risks, innovating, and speaking our minds about possible problems and failures. Employees in the digital age need to think and feel like owners, not employees under a command and control environment. In old command and control environments trust is low and employees lose the passion and initiative to be creative. Trust is a two-way street, starting with the CEO and executive team. Companies of the future must build a culture of radical trust.
1) The old business strategy will not help your company in the future.
2) Leaders and Managers must learn the new skill sets and necessary mindsets.
3) Future success lies in your ability to foster creativity, innovation, and accountability.
In the past companies hired leaders who were good at creating processes, plans, and controls for direct reports to follow.
Future leaders in the digital age need to hire leaders who can inspire innovation, creativity, flexibility, and speed.
Bottom Line: Leaders in the Digital Age must know how to build a solid foundation of trust and empowerment.