Authentic Digital Leadership
In the past, being a good leader was simpler. It meant getting things done and owning the role. Today, leadership means doing a lot of different things well, ideally at once. What’s clear to everyone (at least in theory) is that we’re moving away from an autocratic leadership style. We no longer want a solo dictator and decision-maker who controls activities without meaningful team participation.
We want our leaders to enable their teams to reach ambitious goals; be convincingly visionary, charismatic, and approachable; make their people feel seen; think creatively; inspire creativity in others and act in future-oriented ways; all while nourishing a strong multi-stakeholder network and being present in the here and now with palpable enthusiasm, drive and passion.
Except it’s not. The perception of leadership as one comprehensive, all-inclusive support, enablement and direction-giving ideal can be confusing and create somewhat superhuman expectations. The intersection of external expectations, expectation of self, self-image and the very real requirements of the job is where cramps tend to happen, both figuratively and literally speaking.
Rather than consuming a plethora of conflicting leadership literature and building a conceptual leadership ideal, the more useful approach can be: “What would the most authentic and useful behaviour look like in this particular constellation?”
When viewed this way, it’s not about defining an ideal leadership style but discerning leadership roles and which ones to use when. Leaders who understand the different roles they can take on, easily steer interactions that are directed towards supporting the desired outcomes and experience you’d like to provide for your team and your customers.
My approach to leadership development is to frame it as a discovery process that builds bridges between “me” and “us” and helps you move from a limited view on what’s possible within a certain work scope to expansive self-efficacy, ownership and inter-disciplinary collaboration. When done well, leadership development changes how you do things from systems of delegation and feedback to effective communication.