How to prepare your leaders for the digital age? Leadership and innovation are inseparable in the companies’ digital transformation process.
To overcome the challenges of the new scenario, organizations will have to be led by professionals who are much more flexible, dynamic, and creative, besides being familiar with the technologies.
More than dominating the digital world, they need to keep pace with change and adopt new mindsets. So follow the reading and see how to prepare your leaders as soon as possible.
How to Prepare Your Leaders for the Digital Age?
Leadership and innovation: a new way of conducting business
The combination of leadership and innovation underlies the unique profile of the leader in the digital age. After all, there is no more room for the traditional manager, who centralizes responsibilities and uses his authority to keep everything under control.
Today, the leader is a figure of influence and inspiration for employees; who can motivate and guide teams towards the company’s goals. For this, it needs to offer more freedom and autonomy to professionals, delegate tasks, and foster innovation, allowing the free flow of ideas and a culture of experimentation.
In addition, the new leader easily navigates the digital world and quickly adapts to changes. And they are also using available technologies to increase team performance and gain a competitive advantage. This evolution from the traditional boss to the innovative leader is urgent as the new business landscape is faster, more flexible, creative, and data-driven.
To cope with this reality, the leader needs to have skills such as:
Transforming vision for anticipating trends, making decisions, and solving problems
Digital proficiency to use resources such as artificial intelligence, Big Data, augmented reality, blockchain. And other technologies that enable intelligent and high-performance management.
Positive and collaborative leadership focused on teamwork, engagement, and building high-performance teams.
This is what we will see in more detail below.
The challenge of aligning leadership and innovation in the digital age
To align leadership and innovation, the leaders need to be wholly immersed in the digital culture and ready to deal with its challenges. But, unfortunately, there is an evident mismatch between the preparation of managers and the advancement of digital transformation.
According to a study, The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age, published in 2020 by MIT Sloan Management in partnership with Cognizant. And more than 70% of global leaders say they are prepared to deal with the new economy.
But in the percentage of digital skills, this percentage has dropped significantly. This is because most managers interviewed are not ready to make decisions based on data and increase the performance of teams based on their technical knowledge, for example.
At the same time, more than 80% of respondents say organizations need digital leaders. However, only 40% believe that their company has the necessary structure to develop this type of leadership.
Furthermore, only 12% believe they have managers with the necessary mindset for digital evolution. And less than 10% trust leadership skills to ensure the company’s prosperity in this new era.
In other words: there is a collective perception that leaders are not fit for the digital age. Yet, as much as they believe they are qualified to deal with the new reality, there is a lot of misinformation and difficulty in dealing with strategic and technological demands.
How to prepare your leaders for the digital age?
The 4 mindsets of leadership and innovation
Based on the scenario, the researchers identified 4 essential mindsets to develop digital leadership and innovation based on the scenario.
This is because it is not enough to acquire a specific set of skills to lead in new times: it is necessary to change the mindset and develop new beliefs and attitudes.
See which mindsets represent this transformative leadership
1 – Producer mindset
The producer mindset combines customer focus with analytical thinking, digital understanding, execution, and results.
The leader who embodies this mindset uses data analytics to accelerate innovation and keep pace with rapid changes in consumer habits and preferences to improve the customer and user experience.
This means having the analytical ability to identify the most critical customer issues. And also quickly develop the necessary solutions, delivering superior value to the competition; the more agile this cycle of diagnosis, solution delivery, and consumer feedback.
The more chances the company will have to stand out in the market for a unique experience, hence the importance of having leaders who produce results.
2 – Investor Mindset
The digital age: The investor’s mentality is characterized by the constant search for superior returns for the company’s stakeholders. Leaders who adopt this mental model are dedicated to growth. But always consciously and sustainably, respecting employees’ quality of life and the demands of society.
Because they are purpose-focused, they see beyond the products and services offered. They seek the reason for the business’ existence and think about its mission in the long term.
This is the case of former American Express president Susan Sobbott, who contributes her vision to the MIT Sloan research:
”To me, financial goals sound hollow because I want to adjust goals, principles, and profits. However, I have never been driven solely by numbers. So I shifted the team’s attention to how we change millions in the following ways The ability of consumers to live on our job.”
In this way, she motivated teams and drove innovation within the company as a true investor leader. In this case, these leaders invest in developing their talents, relations with investors and partners, and actions that benefit the community.
3 – Integrative Mindset
Digital age; In a hyperconnected world, leaders must develop an integrative mindset, which concerns relationships, partnerships, and networks.
This mindset allows the leader to adopt a collaborative posture and connect people inside and outside the company. Its primary skill is to bring people from different cultures, professions, and profiles around common goals, aligning their interests to enable teamwork.
Therefore, the integrator leader is the one who knows how to deal with diversity and inclusion in companies; and also valuing the different skills and perspectives of its employees.
4 – Explorer Mindset
Finally, the exploratory mindset allows leaders to open their minds to the new and be highly flexible to adapt to any situation. After all, every organization will go through countless transformation cycles in the digital age; and leadership must be ready to innovate and keep pace with change continually.
In this case, the explorer leader is curious, creative, and an advocate of experimentation, in addition to adopting a posture of an eternal learner and practicing active listening with his collaborators.
Companies led by these professionals have a strong learning culture and encourage innovation, even if it means taking risks and dealing with their own mistakes to grow.