Becoming a Digital Leader


In the era of Digital Transformation and Digital Disruption, is the very nature of leadership changing as well?

Many of our models of leadership in corporations are derived from the military. The idea of a manager who has “subordinates” sounds very much like a brigadier who has captains and sergeants beneath him. In traditional armies this made sense, because in the confusion of the battlefield, infantrymen would take orders only from people they knew and trusted, and in the fog of war a strong chain of command was the only way an order could be reliably executed. Likewise in traditional corporations, such as the GM of the 1950s, with limited information and distributed personnel, a similar structure made sense.

But it's 2018 now: we are no longer constrained by geography or information paucity, so is our model of leadership changing? What kind of leaders do we need to develop for a fast-moving modern, digital enterprise? Here are three ways the digital leader differs from their forbears, and three practical things you can do:

1 - Influence is Power

In a large corporation the people who make things happen are people who have influence, not just the people at the top of the tree. Influence can be garnered in many ways, but developing a strong brand in a company is worth investing time in.

2 - Everyone is a knowledge worker

No leader can afford to not be reading the latest blogs, the latest books, trying out new tech, meeting new people. Look at your calendar for the week, what conference call could you delete to get an hour back to actually learn something new?

3 - Fostering Leadership skills everywhere

As a Digital Leader you need to acknowledge the leadership skills of people on your team who may not have formal management roles. Which of your team would make a good mentor, coach, role model or teacher? Encourage these skills and allow your team to develop them via digital tools such as social media either within or outside your company.

Are you and your management team (above and below) really ready for Digital Transformation?

By James Marland

Keywords: Digital Transformation, Management, Leadership

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