INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Leadership excellence for the digital age

Leadership at the helm of progressive organizations is becoming increasingly difficult. In this special “Leadership Series” Logistics Executive Group provides seven tips for converting possibilities into opportunities

Leadership at the helm of progressive organizations is becoming increasingly difficult. The lure of efficiency-driven technology, powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), significantly impacting the corporate landscape is a major challenge. Innovation is being seen as the key to relevance and survival in the digital age, rather than, as an afterthought for assuring business competitiveness.

The rules for running successful enterprises are being rewritten as old theories and established practices consistently fail to justify the rise of ambitious startups in dismantling the titans of industry. Consequently, corporate concerns are frantically searching for the elixir to attain or sustain leadership excellence. To accommodate the digital age and to ensure that promising possibilities are converted into gainful opportunities in a timely and effective manner, these key tips will help you move purposefully and robustly in the respective direction:

Tip #1 Being a visionary isn’t enough; be a futurist

‘We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost’, were the insightful remarks uttered by the then CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, at the press conference for announcing the respective acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft. Nokia achieved the vision of being the global leader. However, it could not capitalize on the future of digital communication, due to its excessive inward focus. The alternative was to embrace the vast openness of an evolving ecosystem that opened wider horizons for its competitors to delight customers. The new norm of a platform-based hand-held devices, which was pioneered by Apple.

Tip #2 Don’t undermine innovation with technology by marginalizing the ‘human factor’

Technology is highly addictive. The promise of problem-solving and comfort, especially, when aligned with customer needs and expectations. However, within the corporate realm, a key mistake when adopting and adapting to technology, is the neglect of innovation or simply tying it with technology for meaning the same thing. Innovation is a cardinal ‘humanistic’ concept that refers to astute application of human ingenuity, whereas, technology is a consequential ‘mechanistic’ tool that enables the efficient accomplishment of targeted tasks/assignments/responsibilities. Keeping the ‘human factor’ in prime position while charting the course of a prosperous future in the digital age ensures internal harmonization in congruence with the optimal technological solutions.

Tip #3 Be welcoming of the increasingly ‘connected’ world

The world has been steadily shrinking in terms of rapid communication, knowledge-transfer and wide connectivity. Every internet-savvy person has a stake in the global context due to the extensive diffusion that has brought relevance to isolated or marginalized communities and opened organizations to the glaring spotlight of corporate accountability from multiple perspectives. Organizations with an eye on thriving in the future are well-advised to proactively embrace the consequences of their actions in a more accommodating and responsible manner.

Tip #4 Invest in ‘open’ and ‘flexible’ talent management systems

Conventional talent management systems are designed to be directional, disciplinary and dedicated. However, the digital age mandates timely and astute innovation which requires the magnanimity of enterprising experimentation. This beckons ‘trendsetters’ and ‘free-thinkers’ who are allowed to stretch the boundaries of ‘acceptable norms’ in converting possibilities into opportunities. Some progressive organizations have developed separate functional entities to accommodate such initiatives that are not aligned with the customary running of the organization.

Tip #5 Ingrain ‘diversity and inclusion’ as a core part of the organizational culture

Consistently progressive, suitably paced and reliably profitable growth in the digital age is increasingly dependent upon the richness of the diversity and inclusion factor in the corporate domain. A receptive organizational culture buoyed by ‘core values’ and complemented by astute talent management strategies can go a long way in benefiting from the simmering talent, often unnoticed in organizations, for achieving or sustaining a competitive advantage, while ensuring a reign of unabated positivity in the workplace that incentivizes a sense of belonging and engagement for those yearning to unleash their unexplored potential.

Tip #6 Cultivate High-Commitment Employees (HICOs), rather than, High-Potential Employees (HIPOs)

The HIPO approach, extrinsically-driven assessment, has been frequently attributed to eroding the morale of diligent employees and incentivizing the ‘cannibalization’ of ‘Peer Careers’ to secure progressive career advancement. It is more prudent to cultivate HICOs, intrinsically-driven employees, who are inherently engaged and very hard to poach by opportunistic competitors.

Tip #7 Learn from ‘failures’ and embrace ‘successes’ with caution

Organizations that have the humility and astuteness to learn well from their missteps are the ones with the foresight for maximizing the probability of success. A few years back, the trusted business model of software licensing was stagnating at Microsoft as Apple and Amazon made significant strides in cloud computing and mobile devices to embrace the emerging trends of the digital age. However, Microsoft was able to self-reflect upon the changes that were needed to become relevant again and took the necessary steps, including, bringing in a new CEO with an extensive background in cloud computing. Now, it is again at the vanguard of current and emerging technologies, including, strategic investments in AI-enabled products and services.

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