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Five Rules for Leading in a Digital World

https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/five-rules-for-leading-in-a-digital-world/

sloanreview.mit.edu

Five Rules for Leading in a Digital World
Times of rapid change call for a new leadership model. Get a free download of the full series. advertisement Editor's note: This article is part of a new MIT SMR series about how leadership is evolving in a digital world. For years now, everyone has been talking about VUCA, the U.S.

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The speed of change

The amount of data generated doubles every two years, reflecting a 50-fold growth from 2010 to 2020.

To thrive in this rapidly changing environment, leaders must evolve quickly or risk extinction. Leaders need to possess the skills to read the ever-changing landscape, to create flexible teams and inspire their companies to solve big problems.

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Communicate your leadership signature

A leadership signature: Who you are as a leader and how you view and approach the job. 

  • Discover your leadership signature by asking how you lead day by day. Are you task or people focussed? 
  • Ask people who work with you how they would describe your leadership.
  • Consider the impact you have. Are you changing the culture? Driving results?

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Be a sense maker

Sensemaking refers to the process of creating meaning out of the chaotic world around us.

We need to make sense when something in our environment seems to have changed. We collect data, learn from others, look for patterns to create a new map of the landscape. Then we experiment with new solutions to see how it will respond to this new environment.

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Build flexible teams

Setting clear goals, defining roles and improving relations is only part of the picture. Leaders should also be able to build a new and dynamic kind of team to encourage speed, innovation, and implementation.

The next time, gather a dynamic team that can scout for talent and resources, coordinate team activities with specific goals, and also coordinate their tasks.

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Replace toxic leadership tendencies

Toxic leadership can achieve short term results, but over time performance will deteriorate.

When things get troublesome, even the best leaders can slide into a self-centered approach. However, with self-awareness and some feedback, leaders can learn to deal with these tendencies and move toward a leadership that challenges and inspires.

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Build the systems

Successful leaders will need to create a framework in which a dynamic team can thrive. It will involve hiring and developing three types of leaders.

  1. Entrepreneurial leaders. They are the sense makers that discover new products and create flexible teams. 
  2. Enabling leaders. They have a broader perspective and can identify similar projects and opportunities for collaboration outside.
  3. Architecting leaders. They create systems, structures, and a culture that explore possibilities and make self-governing decisions.

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Skills Needed In Digital Leaders

  • Work together, complement each other, and function as a team.
  • Able to operate on and enable environments that are more dynamic, team-centric, and connected.
  • Lead and build teams and partner with the broader ecosystems, keep people connected and engaged, and drive a culture of innovation, learning, and continuous improvement.
  • Lead a workforce that includes contractors, the contingent workforce, and crowd talent.
  • Understand how different business functions, industries, and technologies come together to form solutions.
  • Comfortable and competent with risk-taking.

Demographics And Leadership Destiny

Millennials expect to be developed via opportunities, mentoring, and stretch assignments. However that is hard to come by in top-heavy companies. 

Most millennials think their roles provide little development while most companies report they have excellent or adequate programs for Millennials.

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Talent Spotting

Digital leaders don’t have to do everything themselves, but they must be able to spot the areas of their organization that need improving. Moreover, they need to be able to hire an...

Adaptability

Sudden changes in the industry can disrupt the status quo, potentially derailing the success of your organization. In these situations a leader must remain flexible and adaptable, ready to make the quick decisions that can keep the company on track with minimal negative impact.

Risk-Taking

Putting speed and innovation ahead of tried-and-tested business practices often makes leaders cautious. However, in a fast-changing world, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.

For a start-up, the risks can be even greater but innovation is impossible without risk. And if you can’t take risks, you may not be cut out to be a digital leader.

Organizational Health

According to a decade long research, the health of an organization is based on alignment with a robust strategy, deep-rooted culture, and a clarity of vision.

The health of an organization ca...

Better Health = Better Performance

Extensive Data studies have found a link between the health of an organization and its performance.

Robust health is crucial to an organization's long term success.

The Four Organizational Recipes

Companies aligned with one of these four organizational recipes are more likely to be healthy and to deliver strong, sustained performance than those following random management styles:

  • Leader Driven
  • Market Focused
  • Execution Expertise
  • Talent and Knowledge-based