August 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm #139276
I’m working on a new blog post* focused on the key characteristics of Digital Era leaders. I’ve started a list of what I consider defining traits, and I thought I’d crowdsource additional ideas. Thinking across sectors and disciplines, but focusing on the role of digital technology in organizations, economies, and societies, what do you think are the most important aspects for leaders to be successful? Thanks in advance for your insights.
*For the Digital Era Thinkers blog on the Global Center for Digital Era Leadership (GCDEL) website.
August 24, 2011 at 2:36 am #139296
August 24, 2011 at 7:14 pm #139294
Here’s a few suggestions:
Filtering relevant vs non-relevant information
August 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm #139292
Curious and flexible – digital tools constantly changing so need to be able to learn quickly. Lots of basic ideas apply but always new tools – from Google + to Twitter to Quora, etc.
August 24, 2011 at 8:49 pm #139290
August 24, 2011 at 10:06 pm #139288
Great input, Andrew, Jay, Steve & Dick. You’ve definitely enhanced my thinking.
A theme that’s emerging from the comments here and elsewhere is that Digital Era leaders must be aware of technological developments and have enough expertise to know when/how to pursue them without being “fad follower.”
One of the things that’s challenging is separating out generally important characteristics from those that are either unique to the Digital Era and/or require more/new emphasis. Adaptiveness, for one, is something that’s been discussed for many years, but perhaps what changes the trait now is the need for speed when responding to new opportunities and challenges. Something similar could be said for continuous learning. As important as speed and responsiveness are, though, the need to develop a strategic approach to decision making and tactical implementations – being proactive rather than reactive – is more critical than ever.
It’s almost as if digital technologies put organizational operations on steroids in a way, by drastically increasing opportunities, escalating speed and intensity, and creating new sets of risks. Recognizing that may in and of itself be a critical trait.
Great food for thought…
August 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm #139286
Digital era leaders lead both staff and organizations that precede this era, and have their processes and values predicated on another time and another way of doing things and interacting with stakeholders. So, as much as our collective attention is drawn to the technology side of things, one would think that the “digital era leader” is, if they are not leading a completely brand new organization/institution, fundamentally an absolute whiz at change management and bridging the old and new.
August 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm #139284
It is about master data, sharing, collaboration, being more transparent, social networking and predictive analytics. Visit the link below if you want to learn more about analytics.
August 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm #139282
Hi Courtney – I am not sure Digital era leaders need that much different from current era leaders. There are several sites online discussing traits, competencies, and skills for leaders – a common topic! Having said that, I would add knowing when to disconnect from all the technology and take time to think. We have lost the thinking time in our schedules. We have our to do list and digital devices that we are always on – we no longer think about what we are doing – we just do. When do we have time to kick back, put our feet up and look at the big picture, connect the dots and come up with original thoughts? Part of thinking is connecting with people, face to face – not twitter, Facebook, email, Skype, etc. Disconnect to connect again! http://www.wisdom2summit.com/
My visual for this is the scene in the movie Wally, after people have rediscovered Earth, two people are on their floating couches, their computers screens in front of them staring out in space – and texting each other when they are only 2′ apart from each other and never looking at each other.
August 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm #139280
Interesting question. I suspect that digital era leaders are the same in most respects. Both require courage, authenticity, integrity. But digital era leaders also must monitor the emerging technology trends in order to continue momentum. Not only must you understand Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and govloop, but you must know how to best leverage these and other technologies to amplify your message and reach the intended audience. For example, Bill Clinton didn’t worry about a Facebook page or how many friends he had, rather he went in to diners and ate greasy cheeseburgers with regular people while photographers snapped pictures. Stories were written and the presses rolled. Barack Obama could have gone down that same road and would have had similar appeal. But instead, he segmented his audience groups and delivered very targeted messages to each of those groups. He leveraged YouTube videos, email campaigns and created new communities for people to be thought leaders.
Whether you are a Republican or Democrat or something else, this contrast is very clear. Both models were and will continue to be very successful, they are simply different. Taking a step away from Presidential campaigns, and thinking about a leader who is a Branch Chief or a Division Director, these two models are still strong and viable. You can have the leader in your office who sits down with people and builds rapport and friendship one person at a time. Separately you can have that leader who connects to people social media and comments on your status update and builds that same rapport and friendship over time. You are doing the same thing in both situations. Perhaps in the former, you are building a deeper and stronger connection with that single person and in the latter it may be a weaker connection, but you are able to do it for a much larger group of people. I suspect that in both models, given 9 months or more, it is a wash.
The most successful leaders will be able to leverage that new channel that we aren’t using yet. They are the early adopters who figure out how to make their investment of time in LinkedIn pay off in meaningful ways. These people recognize that there are no rules for these emerging technologies. They say to themselves, “Why can’t I post that RFP that just went onto FedBizOpps on LinkedIn?” If you want to get more high quality proposals, then do it. If you want someone to play the devil’s advocate with a new idea you have, why not post it onto your blog? This is the communication change that has happened as a result of the digital era. Messages no longer have to travel from front-line staff to supervisors to branch chiefs to division directors to office directors to executive staff. That front-line staffer now has the ability to communicate with the executives without the gates and filters. That bubble that surrounded and insulated many executives has popped, and they can now plug in to learn and understand the raw, unfiltered message. It takes courage and sometimes thick skin to want to hear that message. The truth though is often a very good thing.
August 26, 2011 at 6:36 pm #139278
Thanks so much for comments, Mark, Nathan, Paul, and Tim. You’ve provided more great food for thought!
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