In the digital era, we are bombarded with constantly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and cryptocurrencies. As a result, organisations have adapted to these rapid changes with a shift from traditional forms of leadership to redefining what leadership means today
CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Leadership Matters
In this chaotic world, strong leadership is more important than ever. Good leaders will need to steer their teams forward and navigate the tides in the face of these chaotic transitions. Here are some of the key characteristics of positive leadership in the digital age.
Being a good communicator and nurturing others
According to the Forbes’ report on Google’s Project Oxygen, which examined the data behind leadership, there are several core traits that define an effective modern leader. One of these is providing others with encouragement and praise, which they define as ‘the most important factor in coaching – more so than technical or strategic expertise’. They also emphasise the crucial importance of two-way listening and communication between members, which makes everyone feel valued and a part of the team. Communication enables leaders to gain insights into how others feel. Understanding the emotions of others, including what stresses them or makes them happy, enables leaders to identify where tensions lie and how to solve them; in the long run, this promotes an increase in productivity and wellbeing amongst team members.
Building employee participation on all levels
Leadership in this age is no longer hierarchical – rather, it emphasises employee empowerment and building independent teams. A previous post talked about how ‘Leaders don’t get caught in the busy trap’ in which leaders overextend themselves trying to get everything done – and how to avoid such a scenario by investing our time, energy and human resource which allows us to see the impact of our leadership. Leading SEO company Ayima also highlights the importance of hiring specialists – strategists who can help you focus your resources on the proper channels, saving you both time and money.
A top-down approach is no longer effective because it makes others feel insignificant and undervalued. In contrast, leaders should empower their teams to work with as much autonomy and freedom as possible to make independent decisions within their teams. No matter how junior, every member of the team should be encouraged to contribute their unique ideas, and individual knowledge, to achieve shared goals.
Providing visionary direction and clear purpose
In this digital age it’s easy to get lost in the technological aspects of daily life. However, the World Economic Forum emphasises the need for leaders to create a compelling vision which provides others with a perspective on things that matter. Leaders need to show their teams the goals that they are trying to achieve, and why. One characteristic of a great leader is having the skill to break down, seemingly impossible, complex tasks into simple, workable steps that work towards achieving that task.
They also need to keep a watchful eye over the progress of these steps, while delegating tasks best suited to their team members’ skills. Furthermore, leaders need to possess a positive energy that is contagious, and inspires others to be a part of their vision – as a wise person once said, “People achieve great things when they are driven by a strong purpose, and find work meaningful. When people know the why, they figure out the how.”
In summary, leaders in the digital age have the power to inspire, engage and lead others with clarity and optimism. They need to focus on building their communication skills, encouraging autonomy among team members, and clearly identifying their goals.
Through their ability to empower others to identify and overcome key obstacles, digital leaders can successfully alter the direction of our future.