The leadership style inherited from the 20th century is no longer suited to the demands of the 21st century. It is now imperative to adopt a distributed, collaborative, facilitating, engaging, network-oriented and innovative style of leadership to deal with the ever increasing complexity, number and speed of change in today's world.
Easier said than done. Our leadership reflexes focused on control, power and authority are still firmly rooted. Here are four avenues to consider moving from the style of leadership that we have inherited from the industrial age to one adapted to the digital age:
1. Knowing how to be efficient vs. Knowing how to innovate
Although efficiency remains a priority, the ability to innovate is even more important to be able to quickly find solutions to accelerated pressures from internal and external sources.
2. Controlling vs. Anticipating
Remaining in control of our operations remains important of course, but we must focus more and more on the ability to anticipate problems, threats, trends and opportunities. Changes are coming so rapidly that knowing how to react is no longer sufficient. To maintain and improve our position, threats or opportunities must be identified before they materialize and it is too late.
3. Being in charge vs. Being in a network
The leader of the digital age understands that one of his/her main responsibilities is to establish the conditions that ensure collaborations within his/her team and with other teams are efficient and results-oriented. He/she understands that this disciplined cooperation and ability to work within a network contribute directly to his/her capacity to quickly anticipate and solve challenges.
4. Power based on authority vs. Power of influence
Today’s and tomorrow’s leader knows how to exercise his/her power not based on authority but on his/her ability to influence, mobilize his/her superiors, colleagues, partners and employees to facilitate collaborations, interdependencies, interaction networks, shared decision-making and knowledge sharing.
How would you describe your dominant leadership style or your organization's? Is your style mostly inherited from the 20th century or strongly aligned with the 21st century?