Digital leaders need a collaborative and agile approach to leadership grounded in human nature with face-to-face interactions, despite geographic distance.
The role of a leader is always changing, especially as the workforce adapts to new ways of doing business. With many workers now operating from multiple locations, leaders need to know how to explain things clearly and be more direct and to the point. It is not just small businesses that are changing; these leadership directives are also being implemented in some of the biggest companies in the world.
Google’s project Oxygen was designed to identify how successful Google managers led their teams. The research found that teaching, rather than just training, helped their staff improve their competencies. Something that is crucial in the modern digital workforce where more employees work independently.
Entrepreneur notes that digital leaders have the necessary experience and skills to take a company forward with a digital transformation. They take advantage of their company’s digital assets to maintain a competitive advantage and have interdisciplinary skills that help solve work-related concerns. They have an open-minded understanding of growing business functions, industries, and technologies, and use data-driven analysis to streamline and improve the workforce.
Digital leaders are also known to focus on outcomes over outputs.
They are able to recognize that digital transformation is not only about technology, but also structure and customer relations. In the past, traditional leaders often adopted a top-down style of leadership. Today, digital leaders need to use a more fluid, collaborative, and agile approach.
Digital leaders also need to be able to find a way to digitalize their organizations without compromising company values and employee welfare. In an outlook for organizational leadership graduates published at Maryville University, they explain how there is a growing demand for leaders who understand the structures needed to manage remote workers. According to Baruch College marketing professor Robb Hecht, good digital leaders ground themselves in human nature. “Being a digital leader requires a bit more effort than traditional leaders who have that face-to-face interaction daily,” he said.
A digital leader still needs to be able to connect to members on both a personal and professional level in order to create a sense of community and make sure everyone works efficiently.
A remote manager also needs to understand the value of making time for face-to-face interactions.
For example, being a digital leader allowed me to work remotely without impacting productivity. I am able to connect with my team virtually through video calls and instant messaging. However, Fast Company emphasizes that even video calls aren’t enough; leaders need to set aside enough resources to host team meetings and retreats.
Additionally, digital leaders also need to demonstrate a clear vision and commitment when it comes to creating a healthy work culture.
Jive Software CEO Elisa Steele often gets asked how she maintains a work-life balance, and in an article for Fortune, she said: “I’ve come to realize that there is no such thing of work-life balance. Instead, I just live my life, which includes what I do at work, with my family, and in my community.” Steele explains that as the CEO of a global company, she’s often on the road working — sometimes even across time zones. “We communicate using blogs, videos, polls, discussion forums, groups, and teams. This blurs physical location lines and creates a sense of connectedness across the organization. This not only helps me stay aligned with the team while I’m away, but it helps our global employees work better together,” she said.
Introducing digital practices is not only good for a leader’s personal life, it can greatly improve how businesses operate. For one, it helps cultivate a culture that allows employees to maximize the work tools they already have. Digital leadership is also a great way to improve how employees work, which can help increase productivity and a company’s revenue stream. Instant messaging tools allow managers to communicate just as easily with their teams. Choosing digital leadership can also help lower operational costs as there is no need to invest in a physical office.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked ways to become a good leader is to be a good follower. In Best Self, Fateme Banishoeib wrote about an important lesson about the benefits of incorporating fellowship into our approach to leadership. Good leaders should be excellent followers. Learning how to be a better leader requires embracing your inner follower.
You may also enjoy reading Embracing Resistance as an Intuitive Guide at Work and Beyond by Justine Pattantus.