Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Three Traits of Contemporary Digital Board Directors

The digital principle of building a contemporary board needs to be open-minded, foresightful, changeable, knowledgeable, innovative and committed.

The corporate board today is the mastermind behind the digital transformation. Due to the complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and volatility of the digital era, the directorship in any forward-thinking organization must have the ability to guide, inspire and motivate people top-down and bottom-up toward accomplishing shared visions and goal. But more specifically, what are common leadership traits and characteristics of digital board directors? And what are complementary mindsets, skills, and experiences needed to build a contemporary digital board?

Vision: The corporate board directors are advising role to steer the organization in the right direction. Thus, vision is important for leading the organization ship in the uncharted water and blurred business territories. The contemporary digital directors have the vision to see further and convey it with clarity, set principles that instruct the management team to 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. Vision differentiates advanced strategic boards from the compliance-focused board. Because they can provide the direction with confidence, oversee strategy with a sound judgment, as well as bring leadership skills to the table, such as decision-making, delegation, and monitoring. Digital leaders including board directors need to be constantly VISIBLE sharing VISION and enabling others to share it. The vision for long-term digital transformation is required for the change to be effective and lasting.

Change: Change is the “DNA” of modern leadership, it starts at the board level. We live in a world where change is the norm and if we don't embrace it, accept it, roll with it or make it happen, we're not going to be successful. While there are many components of leadership, one of the most important ones is the ability to adapt, model and influence change. It is a basic human ability to inspire self and others to look beyond limitations and make continuous improvement. This is particularly important at the board level because board directors help to oversee the business agenda for change and digital transformation, they also must help to push this agenda, pull all important business resources to achieve it. The contemporary corporate board can inspire, innovate, improve, interact, interpret, influence, exemplify, encourage and orchestrate change, as change is often uncomfortable, but a necessary part of reaching the future and sustain the success.

Innovativeness: There is no one size fits all leadership formula. Board directors are the leadership role, leadership is the adventure to explore unknown, and have confidence and insight to take the right path for reaching the destination. Sometimes, there are multiple paths you should select, and more often than not, there are emergent opportunities and risks you have to embrace. In many circumstances, there is not just one solution to a problem, but multiple ones. And often the answer to many questions is not just “right,” or “wrong,” but there are many shades in between. Thus, to make wise advice, board directors also need to practice creative leadership to think and do things innovatively, test the uncharted water and take the different path. The ultimate criterion of "creative leadership," is to envision the future trends in business, technology, and society, explore business opportunities, build the capacity to unleash human potential, to spread leadership influence and create more and more authentic and creative leaders.

Digital means to break down the past and lead toward the future with a quantum leap. The foresightful organizations should always look for complementary mindsets, capabilities, skills, and experience. Many leaders and managers today have intentions to lead but lack cognitive understanding, intellectual sophistication, and differential leadership strength to lead effectively in the "VUCA" digital new normal. An ultra-modern board can set a clear choice among future scenarios that advocate advancement and promotes positive behavior. The digital principle of building a contemporary board needs to be open-minded, foresightful, knowledgeable, innovative and committed in order to contribute to strategy oversight when required and effectively at all times.


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