Leadership and the Digital World

While the world has become more digital and more complex that simple statement doesn’t encapsulate the far-reaching implications of digital technology. Unlike other technologies before it, the changes to our social ecosystem caused by digitization have touched and changed almost everything.

To survive as a value-creator, a leader needs a new set of skills.  This new set of skills include things like rely not only on one’s strengths but an ever-expanding skill set. Leaders learned to work with people who think different and come from many backgrounds. They put an emphasis on collaboration, especially in instances of serious differences.

Leaders more than ever have to think about what the future is going to look like and what their organization’s role in that future is going to be. Leaders need to be highly strategic and have the ability disassociate from day-to-day concerns to look into the horizon. They should always be looking for a way to create value.

However, being strategic isn’t enough. The new leader also needs to be able to execute plans to find new ways of making value. Usually, these decisions and putting them into action has to be done quickly as our world moves more and more rapidly.

Train Them as a Team

Your staff should be trained, challenged, and encouraged with perfection and teamwork as a goal. No excuse should be made for leaders not to train their staff be the best in their profession. Train with a purpose and emphasize the essential element of teamwork.

The sharing of tasks and hard work should strengthen reduce problems, develop teamwork, improve morale and give a feeling of unbounded loyalty.

Teamwork is the key to successful operations. Teamwork is essential from the smallest business to the largest. As a boss, you must insist on teamwork from your staff. Train and operate as a team. Be sure that each everyone knows his/her position and responsibilities within the team framework.

When team spirit is in evidence, the most difficult tasks become much easier to accomplish. Teamwork is a two-way street. Individuals give their best, and in return the team provides security, recognition, and a sense of accomplishment.

  1. Train, study and train, prepare, and train thoroughly, endlessly.
  2. Strive to maintain individual stability and unit integrity; keep the same leader as long as possible if they’re getting the job done. Needless changes disrupt teamwork.
  3. Emphasize use of the “buddy” system.
  4. Never publicly blame an individual for the team’s failure nor praise one individual for the team’s success.
  5. Provide the best available facilities for training and make maximum use of teamwork.
  6. Ensure that all training is meaningful, and that its purpose is clear to all members of the staff.
  7. Acquaint each individual of your staff with the capabilities and limitations of others, thereby developing mutual trust and understanding.
  8. Base team training on realistic, current, and probable conditions.
  9. Insist that everyone understands the functions of the other members of the team and how the team functions as a part of the whole.

Rear Admiral Murray Hooper

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first compiler related tools. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.

Hopper had attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II, but she was rejected by the military because she was 34 years of age and too old to enlist. She instead joined the Navy Reserves. Hopper began her computing career when she worked on the Harvard Mark I team that was led by Howard H. Aiken.

Owing to her accomplishments and her naval rank, she was sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace”. The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC. During her lifetime, Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities across the world. A college at Yale University is named in her honor. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Technology. On November 22, 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Rear Admiral “Amazing” Grace Hooper is well known for having said of leadership, “You manage things; you lead people.”

Leading Through Difficult Times

As a leader it is going to happen—your team is going to hit a rough patch. Whether that is caused be internal or external forces there are some things you can and should do as a leader to keep the team empowered and confident.

Communication is key. Your instinct might be to sugar coat things but honesty (as usual) is the best route. The confidence and positivity needs to come from the leaders presentation of the information. Make sure to cover what happened or is happening and how it is affect the company specifically or is expected to. What decisions are being made because of the situation. And most importantly what the current plan is going forward.

If it is causing the goals of the team to be compromised, that means there is a lesson to be learned. Taking some time to figure out how the team wasn’t prepared or what they could do in the future to mitigate a similar issue has the dual benefit of strengthen the team and making them feel like they are in control as they begin to work out problems and solve them.

Reshare your vision for the future. Remind your team why you are all there. Take the time to celebrate large wings but maybe more important take time out to celebrate small wins. The positivity you can generate the better—mostly people want to feel good, give them a reason to.

Maybe most importantly, keep asking your team for honest feedback on how they think things are going. Again, this will give team members control and confidence that they can exert influence of the situation.

Traits of Emerging Leaders

How do emerging leaders become viewed as such by their colleagues and superiors?

What does it take to be considered an emerging leader? What are these people doing that sets them apart, not just in the eyes of their current leaders, but also their peers?

It isn’t about being a yes-person or company person or a thankless workhorse. It is about influence. It’s about doing things that make people feel good about the work when you are on the team.

Being proactive, with a plan and outlining your own roll in it with honesty. This demonstrates that you see your own success as tied directly to the success of the entire organization, that one isn’t just “making moves” for their own benefit.

They should choose to follow you, your advice and suggestions when offered. Better yet, become the kind of person from whom people seek suggestions and advice.
Influential employees identify problems, take them to people in power, offer practical, thoughtful solutions, note their own role in whatever mess needs mending, and offer to take part in the repair work they suggest.

Your Team Doesn’t Need A Parent

The new workplace is more fluid and job titles are becoming less important. Many of today’s employees seek interesting projects with meaningful problems to solve. They want meaningful work and not just titles.

One major change in organizations is that in these new types of project-oriented spaces, teams do more and more without first seeking approval from those who are above them. People in non-management positions are acting and thinking more like traditional leaders.
And in many organizations, this is exactly the kind of team member that is wanted. Those who are problem solvers that can work with varied peer groups, keep themselves organized and on task and move forward on their own with confidence. Essentially being their own boss.

So, if organizations are looking for this kind of team member and the traditional “nanny” type manager is no longer needed, what is the role of the leader in this new world?
Simply put, you should be there to share your experience. You are the extra cog, the extra ball bearing. A floater. Someone with confidence and experience who can transition from one part of a project to another to help where help is needed. Leaders are now the support staff—not to say you should be making copies and bringing some one coffee (though maybe sometimes that is the most useful thing you could be doing for your team), but you are there as the multi-tool.

Imagine being this kind of leader who trusts his team members to do their jobs and doesn’t “helicopter-parent” yet drops in on a parachute with a light touch and a wisdom based suggestion just when the team needs it.