Digital leadership must be extremely visionary, mindful, creative, empathetic, conscious, passionate, and humble.
Fundamentally, leadership is all about future and change. Leadership is also situational and unique. Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. The practice of leadership differs from individual to individual based on their character, strength, thinking processes, temperament, behavioral style, gifting or talent and, of course, their personality. From an agricultural society to the industrial age, and now we slowly but steadily move into the fast-paced digital era, what are digital leadership traits in demand to catalyze change, inspire innovation and accelerate digital transformation?
From command & controlling leadership to visionary leadership: Due to “VUCA” characteristics of the digital era, regardless of your position, vision is one of the most important leadership traits. You need to see further than others with clarity in order to navigate the uncharted water, step into untested territories, and steer toward the right direction. Authentic leadership is not status quo. A great leader with humility won’t say: “Follow Me,” bluntly, but instruct: “Laser focus on the vision, follow the principles, set standards and make the continuous delivery." Leadership is not about who is ahead, but who has the vision to see further with clarity. Leadership is not about who is above, but who has a real understanding to see underneath the surface, understanding and insight are leadership substances. Digital leaders convey a vision based on principles that make an advanced movement. Visionary leaders see possibilities before others, but they also need to tackle great challenges with grand consequences over long time spans. They have the capability to look ahead and imagine what is possible for their organizations as part of the whole, and then execute the right options as part of the overall vision for the firm/company via logic steps and systematic approach.
From transactional management to creative leadership: Because leadership is the ability to change, and the speed of change is significantly increasing in the Digital Age. Digital Transformation seeks to change. transformation focuses on goals of innovation. Digital breaks down many little boxes, such as silo thinking or rigid hierarchy. Digital leaders need to be creative with “out-of-the-box” thinking. The authentic digital leaders are unique and bridge, not only one, but multiple gaps, because the intention of becoming a leader is to inspire, innovate, improve, influence, interact, interpret, exemplify, orchestrate and encourage, as change is often uncomfortable, yet necessary part of reaching the future and sustain success. The ultimate criterion of "creative leadership," is to envision the future trends in business, technology, and society, explore business opportunities and unleash human potentials, build the capacity to create more and more authentic and creative leaders, to spread leadership and amplify positive influence.
From generic leadership to niche leadership: Digital is the knowledge economy, digital leaders today need to be both explorer and expert in order to bridge the gap of information abundance and insight scarcity, in order to lead effortlessly. Leadership is not just soft skills, but hard capabilities. It is the time to shift from cookie-cutting generic leadership to gap-minding niche leadership. Many leaders and managers have intentions to lead but lack cognitive understanding, intellectual sophistication, and differential strength to lead effectively. The foresightful organizations should always look for complementary mindsets, capabilities, skills, and experiences that they don’t have so that they can build a winning team and complement each other to lead effectively.
Leadership is about bridging today and future. Digital leadership must be extremely visionary, mindful, creative, empathetic, generous, conscious, passionate, and humble. Progressive leaders are continually practicing, experiencing, learning, growing, adjusting to make such a shift. Transforming leadership from good to great is a journey.