Thursday, July 16, 2015

To Celebrate the 2000th Blog Posting: How to Cultivate More “THINKINGNAIRES” in Digital Age

The digital " THINKINGNAIRES" are the ones who practice thought leadership to bring the world content richness and context intelligence.

Let’s celebrate the 2000th blog posting with a million page views only clicks away; let’s celebrate the content richness with digital fluidity; let’s celebrate thought leadership with dedication and humility. Let’s brainstorm how to build more “Digital Thinkingnaires” in 21 first century: Are they the “Imagineer” who can always bring the fresh perspectives and think differently? Are they the “Visioneer” who can digest, analyze and synthesize information & knowledge, and visualize the future clearly; Are they the Innovators who are creative and think an alternative way to do things?  Or are they the “Change Agent” who can create synergy (people, capability, the environment, etc.) that are greater than the sum of its parts? And is it the time to review, reflect, reimagine and reinvent digital leadership?


Leadership is about CHANGE: There are two 'types' of leadership: leadership to 'control' and leadership to 'change.' Perhaps the language gets in the way as we assume leaderships relates to command, control, organization, motivation, inspiration etc. Leadership as a word consists of "lea" and "ship." The root of "lea" is in the Sanskrit "yui,", it is also in "re-la-tionship," "intel-li-gence," "rea-li-ty," "re-li-gion," "li-aison," and "faci-li-tation." It is related to "connecting"; "ship" basically means "to create," "to make," "to come into being." So leadership implies "to create or to maintain connections." Leadership is an emergent phenomenon connected with processes of grouping. It consists of a double interact, of which we usually perceive only one of the interactions ("leading" or "following"). The former - controlling based leadership requires a leader who understands the objective and is able to 'control' the actions of those who follow in order to ensure that the objective can be achieved. This sort of leadership is relatively short-lived, once the objective is achieved then it's over. The latter - Change oriented leadership requires a leader who has a vision for the future, but does not see this as an objective - part of the vision is that the vision itself grows and continually reinvents itself based on learning and experience. There are no real bounds - all avenues are sources of learning, and followers may come and go as they see fit - they may also become leaders in their own right either within the existing or emerging vision or by establishing their own. Followers are there either because they are curious or because they 'believe' - motivation is intrinsic. The change model is the systems approach and makes far better use of the requisite variety of the whole system. Accept unpredictability, with adaptability, to change under complex circumstances. It is a sustainable leadership involves an alignment of interests and a sharing of values.


Collective leadership is a digital trend: Collective leadership is a trend to encourage collective wisdom and enforce broad collaboration in the digital age. Collective leadership occurs when people come together and mobilize human, cultural, and technological resources in ways that improve their ecosystem for the common good. It is an inherently inclusive approach to leadership because it asks individuals to cross boundaries of all types, as they commit to bidirectional learning, joint action, shared responsibility, and mutual accountability. Collective leadership represents a shift away from an exclusive focus on individual change agents and highlights the importance of more collaborative approaches. Collective leadership  brings together the wisdom and experience of complexity held by the individual or the organization into a whole, that has an understanding of complexity which exceeds the capacity of any one player or even the sum of all of the players to engage and dance with these common challenges. Einstein, noting that a problem cannot be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it. To address and remedy the global challenges facing us require all parts of the system to communicate without “getting lost” in translation and collaborate more seamlessly. We have to develop “collective leadership” at all levels of our systems in order for us to rise to the challenges facing us, to bring forth and harness the wisdom for the sake of our common good. This is high-risk, high-return work that asks us to be in serve something greater than our individual selves.


Leader as a “ladder” - The recursive nature of leadership: The group creates the leadership and the leadership creates the group. The ladder metaphor is interesting at first to get things started, someone has to climb the ladder and provide a vision of how things could be different and gather support, then the leader becomes the ladder so others can climb, and maybe take things in yet another direction, and then when it is going well, get rid of the ladder. The leader needs the wide vision of what is happening in the environment and then have the skills to mobilize the necessary resources in the right way to move the system towards a preferred alternative state. As a fact, leaders are like the "ladder": something enabling you to climb up. Usually "leader" is seen at the top of the ladder. So a leader should become a ladder enabling others to climb as well.


The paradoxical trait of digital leadership: Leadership is inherently paradoxical. What happens is that most people perceive only one part of a paradox: either you see somebody else as a leader and remain unaware of the processes by which you've created "your" leader; or you see yourself as leader and cover up the processes by which you have been created as "their" leader. In both cases, leadership tends to become externalized, leadership is attributed outside yourself. Either as a result of what you may call "democracy" - the leader has to respond to "the people"; or as a result of self-calling or purpose discovery. These two points of view are complementary each other. These types of paradoxes are called "whole - whole"-paradoxes. Due to the complexity and ambiguity of digital businesses, the more paradox-pairs below will, in fact, strengthen effective leadership skills and enforce digital leadership disciplines:
-Opportunity vs. Risk Management
-Logic vs. Creativity
-Centralize vs. Decentralize Balance
-Confidence vs. Humility
-Stability vs. Agility.


Digital leadership with contextual intelligence. Organizations and their leaders have a growing pool of stakeholders with a growing chasm among stakeholder values. This, accompanied by growing global diversity and constant pressure to innovate, gives rise to continually changing contexts. In turn, these phenomena require leaders to respond and adapt to quickly changing contexts. Contextual Intelligence is a construct that involves the ability to recognize and diagnose the plethora of contextual factors inherent in an event or circumstance, then intentionally and intuitively adjust behavior in order to exert influence in that context. The conceptual basis of contextual intelligence involves the convergence of three abilities. 1) an intuitive grasp of relevant past events, 2) acute awareness of present contextual variables, and 3) awareness of the preferred future, interact so that the practitioner can exert influence and make appropriate decisions. The concept of contextual intelligence may help to delineate the implicit leadership skills referenced in the literature as the intangible element that keeps so many managers from reaching their leadership potential.

Speak digital leadership in “Systems Thinking” language: Leadership is about learning to manage the 'system,' in an 'open' manner, the way it is. We 'close' the boundaries of the system, so that less energy is transferred and, therefore, fewer changes happen in the system. We all try to 'close' the system, so to reduce its complexity. Under complex digital environment, we need to look at each situation individually and ask what leadership model is required, will it be emergent, will it self-organize, does it need a conductor-leader to orchestrate; an attractor-leader to consolidate, is a facilitator best, should it be distributed, no one answer fits all situation. But when the system and leadership model are symbiotic/empathetic only then do things fall into place. A flexible leadership that moves and adapts as the circumstances change is absolutely vital. Leadership is about focusing attention and energy on the future to create a compelling, life-giving, sustainable way forward. At the core good leadership makes things happen that wouldn't happen otherwise.  Systems Thinking, as a way of interacting with the environment, is also a kind of leadership. Leadership is an ability to vision; capacity to lead, vitality to intuition; rationality to facts, responsibility to understand; impressibility to counter, accountability to people; adaptability to change, incredibility to uniqueness; sustainability to move, justifiability to prove; sentimentality to decide, facility to provide; mentality to serve. sensibility to diagnose; suitability to justify.


Digital leadership is about balance: Digital leadership is about the balance of "Yin and Yang," to avoid the pitfall of “extreme thinking” or group thinking. Digital accelerates the information flow and knowledge flow. Many leaders who have been with the same organization for decades, lack of “out of box” thinking, from outside the company or industry, which can improve creativity. People get trapped in "That's the way we've always done it mentality" and that slows progress. Thinking outside of box means you are in a continuous learning mode, also, embrace critical thinking and creative thinking. When one leaves those thoughts and standards to seek additional knowledge and experience, they are stepping outside that box to unfamiliar territory. If an executive leader has the right amount of humility, he or she will embrace the diversity of thoughts and pursue the ‘outliners’ viewpoint, and strike the right balance in order to make effective decisions. We all should broaden our points of interest and try new things to extend our thinking box. That leads to a better mutual understanding and more advanced society among all humans.

Leadership is all about future. You can become an influential digital “THINKINGNAIRE,”  if you have the full set of digital minds - the thought processes to connect, not divide; to think “out-of-box,” not too narrow-minded; to practice paradoxical thinking, not just see things “black and white,” and to put constant effort to nourish these three innate human instincts: humility, curiosity and creativity, in order to inspire the positive changes and make significant impact on the organization and our society.

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