Saturday, August 20, 2016

"Leadership Master" Book Tuning: Three Insight about Top Leadership

Top leaders today need to be both “experts” and “explorers,” to improve leadership effectiveness and amplify leadership influence.

At today’s digital new normal with increasing speed of change and unprecedented uncertainty and ambiguity, the leadership bar is indeed raised higher. Because top digital leaders today must have a clear vision to navigate the uncharted water and blurred business territories, they also need to have the creativity to discover the better way of doing things with the in-depth understanding of solving problems thoroughly. So who are top leaders today? How to differentiate transformative leaders from transactional managers? How to differentiate senior leaders from junior leaders? Is wisdom always proportional with age? What are the most important differences between top digital leaders and others? And what are further insight about top leadership?

Top leaders need to be constantly VISIBLE via sharing VISION and enabling others to share it: Vision is not the “Nice to have,” but “Must have” quality for top leaders today in order to direct the organization forward in today’s “VUCA” digital dynamic. Leadership is all about future and change. Leadership vision is to serve as an enabler to make profound influences, to clear the path, whether that be the elimination of obstacles or to provide coaching and guidance. Every C-level leader must participate in creating and shaping a company's vision. A visionary changes the course of business by seeing beyond what all other see or by charting new revenue or growth through the creation of a new product or market; or share their perception of future trends of business such as digitalization, innovation, or globalization. Here are three dot-connections in leadership vision. They are able to not only articulate the vision, but communicate it in various forms and forums, including investor relations, business partners, or customers, and employees. In the senior position, top leaders stay on strategic focus rather than just the tactical details. Vision is indeed crucial, the leaders need to observe, perceive, and pay attention to the myriad of internal, external, national or global forces that define and influence the way we do business these days. As top leaders, you need to see further, but be practical as well via taking the step-wise approach for reaching it steadfastly.

At today’s digital dynamic, perhaps top leaders need to be both “experts” and “explorers”: At the top level, you need to be broad, also stay focused in order to craft good strategies and develop innovation practice via interdisciplinary dot connections. To lead in today’s digital dynamic, often you must have the discernment to identify the signal from a lot of background noises; and you need to capture insight from the sea of overwhelming information. With the border between different functions or disciplines continues blurring, the specialized generalists are in strong demand, or we normally call the “T-Shape” talent. The T metaphor was not made to tell us how much we know about something or how many areas we know about. It was made instead to illustrate a predisposition to diversify our focus or not. Usually, we are either "experts" or "explorers. But for top leaders, you need master both in order to be open-minded for exploring new opportunities, but also building solid knowledge and expertise, not only for gaining respect but also for leading effectively. Top leaders need strong interpersonal and communication and collaboration skills in order to build innovative teams, with quality like resilience, empathy, metacognition, critical thinking, relationship building, agility, or brainstorming.

Top leaders today must have the ability to make sound judgment and effective decisions, especially at strategic level: Due to the complexity, uncertainty, interdependence, and ever-changing business dynamic, sound judgment is a hardcore competency which often does not just come from “gut feeling,” but based on updated information, solid knowledge and decision wisdom, as well as the humble attitude to learn, de-learn and relearn all the time, to put simply, learning agility. The top leadership roles need to spend significant time on making both strategic and tactical decisions on the daily basis. You need to be deep, not necessary means narrow, in order to make sound judgments. In order to make effective decisions, it is more important for senior executives to frame the right questions than hunting for the right answers. Hence, decision wisdom is based on integral thought processes which include a multitude of thinking abilities, such as critical thinking, creative thinking, analytics, synthesis, systems thinking, etc.

Top leaders go beyond a senior title, they are the leaders who should build a far-sighted vision, represent the overall quality of leadership, set digital tones for talent management, make a sound judgment, empower changes, inspire innovation, they are both curious explorers and dedicated faster learners. Because the advancement of their mindset will significantly impact the destination and the speed of digital transformation.


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