It’s more than digital

What does it take to lead the digitally changing organization of the 2020s? Digital know-how is part of the equation, of course, but being or becoming a business leader of today and tomorrow is more about the ability to inspire people. To explore the qualities needed to lead in the digital 2020s, I reached out to business leaders and thinkers, to share some of their observations below and in future articles.

There is no doubt that leaders and future leaders need to understand the power of technology and how it can transform their businesses. “Leaders don’t need to become technology gurus, but they need to become aware of the applications that make the biggest difference in terms of productivity gains for their organization, and then help their organization adopt the crucial few. “, declares Michael Timmsexecutive leadership coach and author of How leaders can inspire accountability. “Leaders shouldn’t leave decisions about what tools to provide their employees entirely to the IT manager. They can help be the eyes and ears of the IT manager for ideas to consider. »

Knowing how to use productivity software, communication software and tracking software “is absolutely necessary,” says travis jacksonCEO of health karma. “You need to be able to use the communication tools within your business, the sales tracking tools, understand what systems are in place, and run your business. Having a general understanding of what you have, how it works, and the value it brings to your business allows for deeper discussions about future technology investments and even having an informed discussion about whether another solution might be more effective.

In addition to understanding the power of technology, leaders and future leaders need to understand that perhaps the biggest shift in the labor market in recent decades has been “the shift in the balance of power from employers to employees,” says Timms. “Employees feel they have more options and don’t have to stay in an organization that puts profit above people and goals.”

Another change seen in this decade is that employees are not afraid to speak up. “In the past, you would just ask for something without explaining why,” Jackson explains. “The new generation entering the job market is not afraid to ask why. It makes me think and think a bit more before I act and have that answer to why ready. This benefits both myself, the person I’m asking for the job, and ultimately the company. »

At least 70% of employee engagement “is a direct reflection of the leadership ability of their managers,” continues Timms. And leadership ability these days is a reflection of a desire to learn, rather than a fierce ambition to climb the corporate ladder, he points out. “Successful leaders today seek input from those they lead instead of trying to appear as if they know all the answers.”

The most important role of a leader in the 2020s is “to elevate the voice, capabilities, and confidence of those they lead, and to remove the organizational and operational constraints that hold them back,” says Timms.

Technology can help facilitate, even amplify, the ability to collaborate and include the voices of colleagues. “The ability to communicate with your employees and team on Slack or interact in Salesforce or the myriad of other tools used to manage projects, communicate and operate your business provides many opportunities for learning, team building and confidence building,” says Jackson. “As CEO, I gain much more insight by interacting with the team and then landing a report on my desk.”

The 2020s organization may look different from its predecessors, some timeless qualities are still needed to lead it. “As I’ve risen to higher levels of leadership over time within companies, it’s often not the most educated or distinguished person, or the one with the best resume, who achieves that advancement in company,” Jackson said. “He is the person who knows how to work. The person who will ask the questions, put in the time and see things through to the end that rises above the others. With that, there’s a sense of enthusiasm that comes with a leadership role, which is contagious. “A positive, enthusiastic approach to work that can be shared with others can make seemingly impossible tasks and goals achievable,” he adds.

This is not to deny the benefits offered by formal education, as this is extremely important in career development. Higher degrees such as an MBA “are helpful because they lend credibility and because they often teach students to write and present more persuasively,” Timms points out. Add to that a broad experience. “The best way to develop their talent is to take them out of their comfort zone. CEOs often tell me about a tough assignment that gave them experiences few others have had. Aspiring leaders shouldn’t wait for their employer to provide them with development experiences. They should ask for them and suggest ways to take small steps outside their comfort zone, further into their growth zone.

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