The digital age has created the need for a new kind of leadership. In the face of constantly evolving technologies and rapidly changing markets, business leaders are increasingly being asked to implement new innovations and cutting-edge alternatives to previous legacy systems to stay competitive.
To succeed in this fast-moving environment, the leaders of today and tomorrow will need to be able to offer three distinct qualities:
Vision is essential to developing a coherent strategy and directing results in a rapidly advancing world. Current and future leaders will need to be able to provide their organization with the ability to envision and drive innovation in a useful way. According to MITSloan, these leaders will need to “help build digital capabilities by implementing the right technologies into the right parts of their customer experience, operations, employee experience, and business models.”
In addition, leaders must be prepared to adjust their vision and course depending on new circumstances. This means being able to fully understand your industry and the enormous impact digital transformation has on your business and society as a whole. Leaders who can create a clear vision and execute it well will find success. Those who try to “wing it” won’t last long, as their lack of vision and direction will lead to confusion and delays, thereby preventing rapid innovation and the ability to compete.
Leaders who can quickly assess new situations and respond with smart and effective decisions are highly valued. Agility is a vital response to more complex and volatile markets. Supporting innovation under these conditions means understanding that projects you’re working on can suddenly lose significance or change course. As a leader, you’ll need to be able to manage a flexible team who can adapt quickly and execute changes effectively.
Furthermore, you’ll need to accomplish these goals with a team made up of a mixture of workers—from fulltime employees to gig workers to contractors and even AI. Markets have proven to reward organizations that can curate the best talent from around the world and manage their resources and capacity with a willingness to change, evolve and adapt. By establishing a work culture and team structure that encourages creativity and rapid innovation, leadership can ensure their organization thrives in a fast-paced world.
The future of leadership is also about empowering others to self-organize and operate in a less hierarchical system. This not only encourages agility, but it also allows for greater participation, involvement and contribution from everyone on the team. Leaders should take a more supportive role—encouraging, inspiring and nurturing others to grow and collaborate as they work remotely from all over the world.
In this supportive leadership role, part of your focus needs to be on connecting people to resources that can help them succeed, gain new skills and advance. You’ll need to find opportunities to both serve and educate your talent in a way that fosters a positive company culture and builds community. By providing learning, mentorship, empowerment and growth opportunities, leaders in the digital age can deliver improved results not just for the organization, but for society as a whole.
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