Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Digital Master Tuning VII: Five Insights of Digital Leadership

Digital leadership must be extremely visionary, empathetic, generous, conscious, passionate, and humble.

Digital and virtual leadership are new and emerging paradigms that are yet to be fully understood and designed as they are still evolving. It can be said to be stifling by existing leadership paradigms and practices. While current leadership principles are still applicable, what needs to change are the platform, delivery, and application in a virtual environment to be effective.

Start by asking different questions regarding technology and leadership. Technology is here to stay and leaders should embrace it. It takes good leaders to bridge those relationships and find the common links between people, shared goals or shared interest. There are many informal ways to grow relationships and teams. One area that will have to change is the passive leader in the corner office. There is no one outside the door anymore. The weight falls on the shoulders of the leaders to adapt. Leaders must understand the changing environment and be prepared to travel more and find new ways to serve the teams. You have to find ways to adapt as leaders so the virtual organization maximizes the potential. you can't continue to ask more of your teams in hours and work days because the work is no longer the place you go, but the work you accomplish. If you try to manage it the same way, you will certainly stifle the potential.

Digital leadership must be extremely visionary, empathetic, generous, conscious, passionate, and humble; with self-confidence to rely on the best people without fear. You can promote this type of leadership in organizations through the right actions supporting people’s personal development. Virtuality is just a current indication of the need that organizations have to rely on confident and responsible people that do not need to be controlled but guided and motivated. It is all a matter of personal commitment to the organization and to the team you belong to. Such commitment rests mainly in two aspects, leadership’s coherence and personal alignment to the firm values. You must feel identified and recognized to give your best at any situation. There are several generations trying to figure out how to incorporate millennials into existing organizations. But leaders are trying to figure out how to build new organizations that leverage the strengths of the millennials rather than trying to accommodate it. It is not necessarily complicated, but these are huge organizational culture changes requiring new approaches and understandings.

A virtual organization does not by itself necessarily stifle leadership but that, on the contrary, it raises the challenge of leadership. In order to be a successful leader in a virtual organization, a manager must possess a number of qualities:
1). He/she needs to be an excellent communicator to convey a clear vision
2). He/she must possess those competencies that are critical for success in virtual leadership: open-mindedness, flexibility, cultures intelligence, ability to deal with complexity, resilience, optimism, energy, and integrity.
3). Most important is that he/she is able to build trust. The ability to build trust is an absolutely essential role required of a virtual leader or any leader.
4) In global virtual work environments, culture cognizance and intelligence will differentiate a great leader from the mass.

Training will have to be developed for different forums to meet the needs of all types of employees. As organizations shift towards more virtual teams and networks the relationship skill becomes more important to sustain and improve delivery. Perhaps there is the need to train on the specifics of leading in the context of virtual teams.  If you have global employees perhaps you have the post pictures of themselves and have them answer a few general questions like we would in an icebreaker. Additionally, establish ground rules for communication and meeting progress checks. Technology requires leaders to exert a lot more energy due to the limited or nonexistent face-to-face interaction. In a traditional setting, the leader would be able to identify and resolve the human dynamic problem through nonverbal cues and personal interaction.

Expending energy in improves leadership effectiveness. The challenge isn't how much energy they exert – most leaders have a full plate of tasks already consuming the energy available throughout the day – but rather expending energy in a way that accounts for, in this case, the diversity of the workforce. Management of ‘multi-location’ organizations can quickly lead to 1) leadership over-spread – everyone gets a little, but no one gets enough, 2) leadership laser-focus – the teleworkers get all the focus and the traditional workers are left out, or vice versa, or 3) leadership-by-proximity – the traditional workforce ‘votes the teleworkers off the island’ based on ease of access to the individual leaders. To effectively leverage feel, you need:
•A strong vision and strategy
•Creation of an environment that allows for continuous and effective communication
•Make sure all of the pieces “fit”
•To ensure that the team has the tools needed to succeed.
•To make sure that mediocrity is not accepted and innovation is rewarded.
•Scoreboards that reflect the mission
•Plan fireworks for success

Globalization happening at a greater pace has resulted in moving from actuality to virtuality very quickly without going through the traditional organizational transitions. Hence, the need for leadership has changed from being just traditional/transitional to being transformational today, leaders are in more need of basic 3C's capabilities- Communication, Collaboration, and Coordination. In addition to 3C's capabilities, there is a greater need for leaders moving away from ambiguity to closer to clarity especially when dealing with virtual teams. What this means is that you do need to have a clear strategic vision, planning and implementation plans and strong appropriate leadership (there would be different leadership / managerial capabilities required in these three different areas). Cross-Cultural cognizance and intelligence are also becoming a critical factor in the success of virtual teams thus leadership needs to be anchored to cultural aspect. This should be an essential part of the training for any leadership development within an organization. In summary here is the list of critical elements/concepts that are critical for "digital" leadership for virtual organization (not limited to);
1). Transformational Leaders
2). Stronger 3C's capabilities- Communication, Collaboration, and Coordination. Coordination (performance accountability), Collaboration (agile, innovative) bridged by Communications.
3). Away from ambiguity and closer to clarity
4). Clear Strategic Vision, Planning and Implementation plans
5). Cross-Cultural cognizance and intelligence


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