The new leader

Leaders have always been accustomed to working in a space of change and ambiguity; however, with the high acceleration rate at which technology is adapting, leaders are beginning to fall behind. 

Leadership no longer encompasses the ‘art’ of leadership, such as how to gain followers and convince others to do what you say, or ‘leader as hero’. The newest trend involves a shift where leadership is a team effort where leaders across many different digital experiences and platforms can complement and assist the company to achieve their cultural and organisational goals.

Man addressing business team

The need for innovation

Companies that do not see the value of technology rising above the value of human capital, may fall behind in the future. Leaders today must always look at the broader ecosystem and work to build teams, keep people connected and engaged as they reach global markets and drive a culture built on innovation and continuous learning. 

Creating a team of multiple leaders helps drive the company innovation and keep multiple minds pushing the company forward. Millennial employees want to feel empowered and connected with the goals and purpose of the company and encouraging innovation through a collective leadership improves trust and helps develop new ideas more quickly, to ultimately remain ahead of competition. 

Advanced touch-screen concept

Caring for employees

Employees today expect to be assisted and supported throughout their work life, which includes continuous learning, performance management and engagement. To remain successful, organisations should focus on employee experience.

Traditional leadership and training have become the least valued investments for companies. Instead, organisations should focus on employee development, including establishing a holistic leadership culture. Risk-taking and knowledge sharing through artificial intelligence software and innovative applications are important shifts for leaders to improve organisational success. 

Promoting all employees to take part in innovative efforts and creative strategies are important pushes for new leadership stiles as leaders will need to incorporate both digital and global strategies. 

Business meeting

Think, act and react

Leaders are needing to develop digital capabilities and Deloitte has identified just how this change must occur. A study with MIT showed that leaders must develop new cognitive, behavioural and emotional transformations in order to achieve success within a digital space. These transformations are identified in the following table. 

Think  Act React

Identify possibilities in a virtual world

Adapt to constant shifts in influence

Tolerate and become comfortable with an volatile and ambiguous environment

Develop personal and organisational complexity

Collaborate across many platforms and teams

Command resilience with change

Consider new processes and programs

Encourage contributions from internal and external interest groups

Challenge the 'norm'

Make intuitive decisions based on continuously changing information

Invest in experimentation through trial and error

Take lead and drive change

Along with a transformation in thinking and behaviours, Deloitte identified three leader types that every organisation will need as they transition into a digital space: 

  • Digital investors: theses leaders identify and invest in partnerships that uncover talent and new ideas, as well as build an organisation based on innovation 
  • Digital pioneers: re-imagining and shaping the future is necessary for businesses and these leaders are the answer for building a winning digital strategy
  • Digital transformers: the future is volatile and change has become accelerated through technology; having leaders to transition the organisation through intense times of change and risks will keep morale high and the organisation focused on established goals

How to start

Identifying current leadership models and researching new and potential models is the first step for any organisation that is making the transition to a more digital workspace. It is important to develop models based on key aspects, such as innovation, creativity, growth, inclusion and collaboration. 

Organisations looking to change their leadership models should first look to current employees for potential matches. Understanding the organisational talent and training your future investors, pioneers and transformers from within the company will keep motivation high and organisational goals the priority.

Finally, organisations should encourage a risk-taking culture of leaders. Competition will only become more saturated within industries and it is necessary for organisations to constantly improve and innovate current processes and products. Utilising younger employees to help educate senior executives about technology, change and risk-taking will improve organisational culture and ultimately help to achieve a more holistic leadership model.

Young woman with team in relaxed office