Digital technology redefined the way we do business.
It not only changed the manner in which we communicate with our customers but also the way we interact with each other, while we’re working on our tasks. Digital has transformed our entire workflow, teamwork, and disrupted our entire concept of leadership.
To be successful in the world of digital business, you need modern leaders, the ones that embrace the digital revolution and recognize its power.
While many are still holding on to behaviors that are now redundant or obsolete, to be competitive in a digital economy, leaders need to upskill, keep up with the changes and take their organizations to the next level.
Here are some of the essential traits and characteristics that this new Leadership 2.0 requires.
Embracing the Tech
Not all modern leaders need a degree in coding, but they need sufficient knowledge to be able to recognize the importance of current tech trends across different sectors and to have a vision of how to use them most effectively.
The success of every business and its future growth can now completely depend on leaders' capability to recognize the possible applications of the latest technologies, such as automation, AI, big data and cloud computing.
After they acknowledge the role digital technology plays in business, digital leaders should not fear or be reluctant when it comes to implementing it. If not tech-savvy themselves, they should also be able to accept the feedback of others who know more than they do regarding tech matters.
Give a Sense of Purpose and Direction
Even though technology is directly impacting our business practices, leadership in the digital age is much more than accepting and implementing the latest technology solutions.
Leadership is all about giving a vision and direction to people who are so immersed in technology that they can hardly see the purpose of their tasks.
Leadership is there to clarify goals and actions so that each member understands what the team is trying to achieve, as well as recognize their own role in the process.
Encourage Participation and Accountability
Emerging leaders nowadays see themselves as learners, and they don’t have a need to own and be responsible for everything – they’re willing to delegate and pick the best person for each task based on the experience and skillset.
They are quite aware that they don’t (and can’t) know everything, so they empower their team members to take ownership of their own tasks and be accountable for fulfilling them.
They believe in freedom, autonomy, and trust and are open to learning from team members at all levels.
The Right Mindset
According to the MIT Sloan Management Review, the primary challenge of leadership in the digital age isn’t adopting behaviors or skills, but developing a mindset – attitudes and beliefs that guide behaviors.
During their leadership study, MIT SMR identified four specific mindsets reflecting the principles, values, and norms of digital economy trailblazing leaders.
Producers are focused on solving customers’ problems, as well as on digital savviness, analytics and using all these resources to improve customer experience.
Investors have higher purposes in their mind besides making a profit. They are dedicated to growth and development, but in a sustainable manner, looking for the best ways to benefit the community.
Connectors are driven by a sense of belonging, and they aim at creating networks, developing meaningful relationships and creating trusted partnerships.
Explorers are creative and curious, extremely open to change and flexibility. They are not afraid to experiment, fail and move on.
These leaders have the power to create great workplace communities and motivate their team members to achieve some great results.
Modern leadership is a continuous management of change, and the will and the ability to evolve should be at the very core of every organization.
However, all the team members should be empowered so that they don’t fear change.
Many employees fear automation and the different changes digital transformation brings about. But the change gives them the position to upskill, progress, grow and learn.
Leaders should improve their teams’ comfort levels regarding risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Only when they feel free to fail, employees will give their best to succeed, experiment and innovate.
And that’s when some really great things start to happen.
They Strive to Build Trust
Trust is often underrated, but it is one of the most important aspects of business and leadership in the digital age.
Especially when we know that it’s not something that can be built overnight, neither with your employees nor with your customers.
To be successful, leaders need to be able to form meaningful connections with their followers, and trust is at the very essence of such relationships.
The only way leaders can instill credibility in their followers is by doing the trustworthy thing all over again, until their followers are sure they are acting in a genuine manner.
While traditional leaders usually rely on their intuition when it comes to decision-making, digital leaders tend to make data-driven decisions. With highly advanced predictive and analytical tools they now have at their disposal, doing it the old-fashioned way would be like a shot in the dark.
Digital leaders make use of all the available resources so that they have enough relevant data to make an informed decision.
They Are Hyperaware
Emerging leaders are constantly scanning the world around them, looking for new opportunities and possible threats.
Their perception is a source of valuable information and it helps them adapt faster to the current situation or any unexpected changes. As they are always actively engaged, nothing can surprise them, so they are able to remain level-headed and perform, always keeping their calm when there is an ongoing crisis.
Leaders who rate higher on these traits and behaviors will outperform their peers when it comes to their efficiency in managing teams during transitions and disruptions. They will be able to identify and recognize good opportunities for improvements and lead the way through.
Leaders of this new digital age are game-changers and they never put their subordinates down - they treat themselves as first among equals, and that’s their superpower.