Sunday, March 7, 2021

Leadership Transformation

Leadership is dynamic, innovative, and progressive. Static leadership does not work well in the digital age. Leadership innovation is a prototype practice, organizations need to keep experimenting, and exploring with audacity. 

Leadership is about the future, the future implicates changes and innovation. Leadership is about focusing attention and energy on the future to create a compelling and sustainable way forward. With unprecedented uncertainty and high velocity, the challenge is how leaders can move the “needle” forward, and being flexible to adapt as the circumstances change is absolutely vital to accelerate business transformation. 

The future is in our hands. We have to reinvent what leadership is with new normal and new approaches, develop the best and next practice to accelerate its maturity.

From cookie cutter leadership to gap-minding leadership: Organizations today need to discover and develop leadership for tomorrow, rather than just hire for yesterday. Homogeneity, primitiveness, and stereotyping are tedious and tasteless, being categorized into “cookie-cutter” leadership. Digital era is volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous, to bridge gaps and lead forward smoothly, authentic leaders have vision, intelligence, adaptability, diversity, consistency, profundity, and empathy, etc, are able to drive progressive change, master business dynamics and cultural differences. Besides hardcore competency, digital leaders must have soft skills and great digital taste to accelerate the collective human progress.

We are what we think, behave and do. Leadership is neither a franchise to be sold as a package, nor a skillset but a unique and complex mix of growth mindset, innate capabilities, finely-tuned communication and strategy skills, as well as vision of purpose. Thus, gap-minding leadership must begin with the inner-self-moving into embedding creativity, distinctive attitudes and behaviors around the norms. Nowadays, to break down stereotypical biases, bridge professional gaps, or any types of career ceilings, mind crafting, skill-sharpening, knowledge-updating, continuous-delivery, and dynamic digital footprint, etc, are all crucial steps in driving progressive change or breakthrough innovation effectively. In practice, there are no cookie-cutting practices or methodologies that give the answer, as the gaps can only be bridged through tailored leadership development, the culture of learning, effective training and a series of practices.

From command & control leadership to distributed & persuasive leadership: In the static Industrial Age with knowledge scarcity and a considerably silo working environment, leaders perhaps focus on controlling the situation and commanding the subordinate to do the tasks or manually correct their behavior. The problem of command & control is that you can control people’s behavior, but not their mind. Theoretically, ”command & control” is often used as a euphemism for “bad, authoritarian management.” The problem is that the value, importance and method of these essential elements haven't been reconciled with C&C.

With flattened business hierarchy and blurred geographical territories, vision needs to be broadened and communication shouldn’t just enforce the hierarchical “command & control” management style. How can business leaders in authority evolve from their current ego-centric sense of self toward developing a greater and more human sense of self. Persuasive and distributed leadership is in demand to give clear direction of what's expected, then delegate power to more people to achieve strategic goals, and allow those that follow you to choose how they get there.

Persuasion is a leadership quality to sell either vision or new ideas. Persuasion with good intention should help problem-solving, manipulation more often serves ego. In essence, the leaders’ role is to empower their people to reach their full potential. This has a liberating effect. Typically more accountability, passion for work, attention to significant details with an eye on the big picture are common desired outcomes. Nowadays, we are in the age of abundance of knowledge, knowledge-work is more purpose driven and self-management, therefore delegation, collaboration, openness, transparency, sharing and integrity are fundamental for a joyful and productive teamwork. Persuasive and distributed leadership can harmonize the effort and improve organizational maturity.

From gut-feeling leadership to visionary & expert-based leadership: We live in the “VUCA” digital era now, today’s digital workforce is hyper-connected and sophisticated with information abundance and digital fluency. Are today’s business leaders or managers really “powerful” enough to lead them effectively? The bigger problem is zealots that blindly make decisions without reasoning or solve problems without understanding the root causes thoroughly. The problem with gut-feeling leadership & intuitive decision-making is that it can seldom be quantified and so analyzed. It is not so good to go with intuition when there is an excuse not to put in the effort to gain insight, lead authentically and exercise judgment objectively. The sentiment of trusting your intuition is spot on, but attempting to break it down into conscious, and unconscious etc., consistently leads to a perspectival minefield.

There are two powers in the digital era: Informational power which is about the value or importance of information and knowledge, and expert power which comes from a person’s expertise, can truly win the minds and gain the respect to improve leadership maturity. To reach the state of knowledge proficiency and practice expert power wisely, it is important to identify and close the gap between knowledge and insight, integrate the hard and the soft skills into differentiated leadership competency. Business leaders know it’s important to create positive mental pictures of what they want to achieve and develop a set of top leadership skills such as visionary thinking, strategic planning, innovation, or talent development, etc. Do everything you can to build up your courage, wherewithal and confidence from the inside out, but shape the outside in perspective to enforce people-centricity and expand the digital horizon effortlessly.

Leadership is dynamic, innovative, and progressive. Static leadership does not work well in the digital age. Leadership innovation is a prototype practice, organizations need to keep experimenting, and exploring with audacity. Contemporary leaders must master multidimensional thinking, have more than one management style, adapt to a changing business environment proactively and steer their organizations and our society into the creativity economy confidently.


Post a Comment