Tuesday, June 8, 2021


A digital leader can be ripened to maturity through the combination of authenticity, capability, quality, potentiality, and resilience…

Leadership is an influence and a practice, there is no magic recipe otherwise. Good leaders are continually practicing, experiencing, learning, adjusting, and they understand that ultimate mastery of leadership does not exist. 

The biggest challenge with any large-scale transformation program is – do the senior leaders truly understand the time and impact on the organization, can they make significant influence; do people genuinely look within their own hearts and minds to learn about the barriers, and be able to overcome them to make a leap? What are the characteristics of transformative leadership?

Professionalism: Digital is both deepening through the leadership profundity and raising up the leadership quality bar. Professionalism is the fundamental characteristic of high mature leadership. It is about having a sound understanding of basics and making fair judgments; being consistent in the habit of thinking, learning, and problem-solving. Being consistent during the good and tough moments is difficult for leaders as they advance in their career, but it directly impacts leadership effectiveness. Not only do they keep consistent on themselves; but also they look for consistency in their teams, in their organization as well as in their ecosystem, as consistency harmonizes humanities.

As leadership is all about direction, progressive change and innovation. Unprofessionalism leads to poor judgment and then drives ineffective decisions which will cause the business to become fragile and stagnate.The difference between senior leadership and middle management is not just about sharpening a more linear skillset, it often needs the radical mind shift, learning agility and nonlinear capability building. Business leaders with high professionalism make a positive influence on corporate culture and bring wisdom to the workplace.

Persuasiveness: Good leaders communicate to get their team motivated and accomplish business goals smoothly; great leaders convey their vision with clarity and inspire the team to reach the “art of possible.” They follow the principle - “over-communicating” to deliver the consistent message and “less is more” for ensuring clarity and conciseness. They have creative communication skills to break down barriers and bridge the differences; they have empathy skills to tailor the business’s audience. Their story-telling is data-based and informative enough to be more persuasive and build trustful relationships intellectually.

Persuasion implies solving problems in a more harmonized way based on vision, mutual understanding and respect, or negotiation via trade-off. Persuasive leaders have interdisciplinary knowledge, situational wisdom and uplevel communication skills to negotiate, persuade, and amplify their leadership voice and develop influential competency. They have their own leadership transformation playbook to guide changes and transform the company’s underlying functions, processes, structures, cultures to drive progression with adjusted digital speed.

Paradox: Business reality today is complex, uncertain and ambiguous. Whether you are vague about identity, or identity with vagueness, there are a multitude of issues that affect decision-making and action, some of which have spawned whole new fields of inquiry. Thus, today’s business leaders need to be sophisticated and demonstrate high paradoxical intelligence. In essence, the paradox of leadership is about the balance of asking and answering; induction & deduction, analysis & synthesis, understanding situations as a two-sided coin, leading at front and leading from behind accordingly.

Many of today’s problems are complex. At a silo, perhaps you only see or understand one side, believe it’s right, and then assume the other side must be wrong. But if you stand at the right angle to see both sides, you know even they are different, but both hold part of the truth in it. To solve problems effectively, it’s important to strike the right balance when it is difficult to tell the two apart, as when entities change slowly but utterly, or when their boundaries are indistinct. Business leaders with high paradoxical intelligence can gain understanding of multifaceted situations in a more objective, empathetic, and systematic way.

Prioritization: Organizations today are inundated with exponential growth of information, overloaded with too many initiatives, and they are in the high risk environment with “VUCA” digital new normal. So the really important thing is to understand the core business of your enterprise and the problem to solve, set priority to focus on things that matter. Business leaders need to have the strategic mind and skillset to prioritize and be selective on their business agenda, contribute to business problem definition and solving, pull the business in the right direction via setting the right priority and allocating resources, time, and assets scientifically.

Prioritization is a sort of “balance” skill, to know when to take the gas pedal to accelerate speed and when to take the brake to control the risks. Prioritization forces people to be more effective and creative, to come up with better ideas because now they know that their ideas will get sponsored, and if chosen, they will be followed closely. Without effective communication and prioritization skills, business leaders often don’t understand how to assign resources and talent systematically, engage employees by co-setting their work goals scientifically,

Potentiality: Leadership is about the future, to not only improve organizational performance, but more critically, unlock potential - “future of performance.” Organizations should evaluate how well the individual continues to perform and grows in their current roles, how likely they can build unique professional competency to shine in the future. Potential includes your ability to perform in the future and that's what really matters when you have to make a decision, take on new challenges at work, rapidly learn and grow into next-level roles, or roles that are expanded and redefined as business changes.

The potential is an investment, people with potential haven't performed to the level where there is actual performance in all the areas desirable. In fact, one of the most crucial strategic imperatives for today’s businesses is to identify and develop their high potential leaders. Sometimes, you even need to leverage all tradeoffs, retreating today’s performance a step back in order to accelerate the future performance. High potential leader has the ability and interest to take on more responsibilities in the future which is displayed by their thought leadership or exemplified behavior.

Personality: Personalities often mean mindsets, traits, emotions, attitudes, or behavior. Organizations usually reflect the personality of their top leaders. Personality comes from one's convictions and value systems not only preferred but also personally practiced. The transformative digital leaders have more balanced or adaptive personalities to fit in different circumstances and demonstrate the very characteristics of vision, character, authenticity, insight, creativity, versatility, empathy, humility, influence, and wisdom. There is one aspect due to physical or appearance, but in actuality, we will know personality only through the action and reactions, character and psychology. Stop trying to be someone other than who you really are!

Digital professionals, especially leaders, need to demonstrate confidence based on their fitting mindset, professional competency and quality, and have the right dose of ego. You also need to know what ingredients matter to you to get the outcome that you want. Keep in mind, things can change, people can change, and the world we live in continues to change. Leadership is about positive thinking, confident attitude, and exemplary behavior via continuous practices. Thoughts are formed, personalities are shaped, and aspects are delivered by variable. Given these parameters, personality can change over a period of time depending on the consistency of practice.

Progressiveness: To deal with fast-paced changes and continuous disruptions, growth mindset and cognitive intelligence are in strong demand to ride learning curves and make the progressive movement. Most people are focused on ego needs and survival. Progress itself is a change, either by individual or group efforts or induced by environmental and cultural tangible and intangible forces. People want to hold themselves back, and that is the test, not to get trapped, and to continue with focus. We have to trust our inner intuitive self, sense of wisdom and guidance from a higher mind. Very few people can do this.

Leadership is all about change and progression. From a perspective of societal progress, what is considered progress for one individual or group, is not progress for another, so sometimes progress cannot truly be considered "progress" for humans as a species unless it is helping a very large group. Thus, it’s important to follow the most advanced mindsets, set the right principles, and develop the common ground to make a leap. Though, it’s also important to understand your own circumstances, make progress at a stepwise pace. Fundamentally, digital transformation is a progressive journey of pursuing the next level of business maturity and societal progress. Transformational leadership is based on vision, interdisciplinary expertise to connect the dots into the future.

To deal with uncertainty and ambiguity, leadership sophistication with above characteristics is crucial to make a discernment and establish insight into approach and style in different situations and understand perspectives different from your own to improve decision effectiveness. Large or transformative change is not for the fainted heart. It takes a lot of brainstorming and energy to re-focus, kick start or “game-change.” Leadership substance is the generic part, but skills and styles are more specialized and personal. Not to forget the continuous improvement because leadership is a talent. A digital leader can be ripened to maturity through the combination of authenticity, capability, quality, potentiality, and resilience, with a unique combination of leadership mindset, attitudes, and behaviors that develop and achieve high quality and meaningful results over a sustained period of time.


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