It’s much more than digital

What does it take to lead the evolving digital organization of the 2020s? Digital know-how is of course part of the equation, but being or becoming a leader in today’s and tomorrow’s businesses is more about inspiring 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 tech gurus, but they need to become aware of the applications that make the biggest difference in productivity gains for their organization, and then help their organization adopt the few critical applications,” says Michael Timms, executive leadership coach and author of How Leaders Can Inspire Accountability. “Executives shouldn’t leave decisions about what tools to provide to their employees entirely up to the IT manager. They can be the eyes and ears of the IT manager to bring him ideas to take into account.

Knowing how to use productivity software, communications software and tracking software “is absolutely necessary,” says Travis Jackson, CEO 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 more in-depth discussions about future technology investments and even to have an informed discussion of whether another solution could be more effective.

In addition to understanding the power of technology, leaders and aspiring leaders need to understand that perhaps the biggest change in the job market in recent decades has been “the shifting of the balance of power from employers to employees. Explains Timms. “Employees feel they have more options and don’t have to stay in an organization that puts profit before people and purpose. “

Another change seen this decade is that employees are not afraid to speak up. “In the past, you would just ask for something and not explain why,” says Jackson. “The new generation entering the workforce isn’t afraid to ask why. It makes me think and think a bit more before I act and have this answer to the why question ready. It benefits both myself, the person I’m asking for the job, and ultimately the business.

At least 70% of employee engagement “is a direct reflection of the leadership capacity of their managers,” continues Timms. And leadership capacity these days is a reflection of a desire to learn, rather than a fierce ambition to climb the corporate ladder, he emphasizes. “Successful leaders today seek the advice of those they lead instead of trying to sound like they know all the answers. “

The most important role of a leader in the 2020s is “to raise the voices, capacities and confidence of those he leads, and to remove the organizational and operational constraints that hold them back,” explains Timms.

Technology can help facilitate, if not amplify, the ability to collaborate and include the voices of colleagues. “The ability to communicate with your employees and your team on Slack or to interact in Salesforce or the myriad of other tools used to manage projects, communicate and run your business offers many opportunities for learning, team building. and trust, ”says Jackson. “As a CEO, I gain a lot more insight by interacting with the team and then having a report on my desk. “

The organization of the 2020s may look different from its predecessors, but certain timeless qualities are still needed to lead it. “As I have achieved higher levels of leadership over time within companies, it is often not the most educated or prominent person, or the one with the best resume, who achieves this advancement. ‘business,’ says Jackson. “This is the person who knows how to work. The person who will ask the questions, put the time, and then bring things to fruition that rises above the rest. With that, there is a sense of excitement that comes with a leadership role, which is contagious. “A positive and enthusiastic approach to work that can be shared with others can make seemingly impossible tasks and goals achievable,” he adds.

Do not deny the benefits offered by formal education, as this is extremely important in career development. Advanced degrees such as an MBA “are useful because they provide credibility and because they often teach students to write and present more convincingly,” Timms emphasizes. Add to that a wealth of experience. “The best way to develop their talent is to get them out of their comfort zone. CEOs often tell me about a difficult assignment that has given 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 baby steps outside of their comfort zone, further into their growth zone. “


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