Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Five Ingredients in Digital Leadership

The defining qualities that will distinguish great leaders from the rest are stemmed from the mindset level.

Substantially, leadership is all about future and change; direction and dedication; influence and innovation. With “VUCA” characteristics (Velocity, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) of digital new normal and today’s cross-functional, cross-cultural, and cross-generational workforce, what are the important ingredients and emergent trends for digital leadership, and how to leapfrog leadership to the next level of maturity?

Vision: Leadership is forward-looking, to make progress. Leadership starts with having a vision, then develop a plan to achieve it. Top leaders are visionary roles, they set the direction for the enterprise (internal and/or external) to step into the uncharted water, and they orchestrate the digital transformation of an organization, its people, from the organization's current position to a position that best serves the interests of its customers, shareholders, and people. The means of 'orchestrate the transformation’ is, what distinguishes a great leader and a great organization. A great leader is one that can trust his or her instincts and relies on them at a crucial moment. Not that you wouldn't let the facts speak for themselves, however, how many times does the leader simply take in all opinions surrounding them and at the end of the day must do what they believe is right for the situation at hand. In all cases, a vision of the future is the key to getting started as a digital leader. If top leaders are not visionary, then they should not be called a CxO. A CxO must be able to add value to an organization through strategy, and strategic thinking involves being a visionary.  

Intelligence: What keeps leaders successful is the intellectual curiosity and ability to continuously be open to learning and applying these learnings as they move forward. Their inquisitiveness makes them more open to asking the right questions, embrace the other point of view, be empathetic to understand others, practice leadership without prejudice. The authentic leaders with high and multi-intelligence have inquisitiveness, adaptability, consistency, and empathy to master business dynamic and cultural cognition. They present the ability and wisdom to manage complexity in high digital transparency and stressful digital dynamic. They can make a fair judgment and better decisions by analyzing and synthesizing information accordingly. “Believe half of what you see, nothing that you hear, and everything you feel." - Nick C. Ciccone

Creativity: Creativity is the #1 skill in demand in the Digital Era. Hence, creative leaders have also emerged to lead digital transformation effortlessly. Creativity is not a "thing," it´s a process that happens as a proactive mental activity to a problem. Creativity is as much defined by the problem as by the capacity of the individual to connect things to resolve that problem in new and sometimes unexpected ways. Creative leadership is essentially anchored on the leader's overall multifaceted resourcefulness. That is, the multidimensional (including introspection) competencies to formulate creative, unconventional alternatives or solutions to resolve problems, to show versatility and flexibility in response to unpredictable or unanticipated circumstances. Great leaders are pioneers, innovators, and creators of a better context. Creativity becomes significantly important in the age with the advanced technologies because the leaders of the future will not be mere automatons. Creative leadership is the unique combination of a growth mindset and leadership behaviors that develop and achieves high-quality results over a sustained period of time and risk tolerance.

Thought leadership: At today’s “digital dynamic with increasing speed of changes and hyper-competition, being a thoughtful, mindful and multi-dimensional thinker is more crucial to improve leadership effectiveness. Authenticity is the foundation to be a Thought Leader. Digital leadership is less about "HOW," more about "WHY," and “WHAT.” Leadership brand is less about what you look - the stereotypical leadership, and more about what you think - Thought Leadership. The digital Thought Leaders of the future sense, feel, read, imagine and intuit possibilities in the digital paradigm shift. The digital brainstorming is happening in real time with people and plays spontaneous networks of human and business operational concerns, to co-solve many thorny problems and overcome numerous challenges facing humanity. Being a Thought Leader also means you truly understand the purpose of leadership. Why do you want to be a leader, and which value can you bring in. Being able to quickly articulate the value that you bring to others is critical to helping others learn about how you can benefit them. For example, if using one word to convey your leadership brand, what would it be - Innovation, Wisdom, Empathy, Authenticity, Visionary, etc, or the opposite -Dictatorship, Stupidity, Narcissism, or Fake., etc.  If you are unclear about your own value, others have no hope of understanding how you can help them, and will move on to someone they can understand.     

Profundity: Back to the root of the word “profundity,” it means insightful and understanding. Climbing Knowledge-Insight-Wisdom pyramid is an important step in gaining profundity. It’s not just about knowing, but in-depth understanding; it requires a person's ability to grasp or comprehend information, too often assumptions and prejudices get in the way of understanding. It is the responsibility of each leader to examine themselves and to make sure they are open to true understanding. A mindful or thoughtful leader has a better perception to be a good communicator upon thinking profoundly, upon knowing when to voice out, when to keep silent; upon striking the right balance without any sort of extreme thinking or bias.

As the world moves into a hyper-connected and interdependent digital relationship age, the five ingredients above are defining qualities that will distinguish great leaders from the rest, to go deeper, not louder; first, understand, then be understood; first listen, then make a conversation; first envision, then communicate; first observe, then perceive; first learn to absorb knowledge, then connect the dots, capture insight, and gain wisdom. Leadership wisdom makes the human world go round, being coherent with its physical shape and being harmonized with nature ecosystem.


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