We are living in a time of change, where businesses of all sizes and across all industries are trying to succeed in an increasingly volatile marketplace. And leaders across all types of organizations are faced with new challenges in order to remain relevant. The world is also changing, in other fundamental ways. It is becoming smaller, flatter and smarter.
Since 2008, we’ve talked about what it takes to build a smarter planet. We’ve learned that our companies, our cities and our world are complex systems—indeed, systems of systems. Advancing these systems to be smarter, meaning more instrumented, intelligent and interconnected requires a profound shift—a transformation in management and governance toward far more collaborative approaches.
Driving transformation starts from the top. Dealing with today’s new breed of employees entails smarter leadership and management.
To the Baby Boomer generation, it is puzzling to think how much the world of work has changed. Texting everywhere? Flattened hierarchies? Working from home and/or remotely? Many senior leaders are secretly wary of this kind of change. They are comfortable in the world in which they began their careers, where an executive’s status was measured by the size of his empire, where his power depended on how many people reported to him, and where a top-down and confrontational style was what got him to where he was.
Today, leaders need to influence a wider scope of people, including those who don’t report to them. They may not work for the same company, or even live in the same country. And self-esteem no longer comes from how much information you have, or how may people report to you. It comes from how effective your network is. The organizational hierarchy is dying, with the networked, boundary-less system rising in its place. Nothing threatens a hierarchy more than a strong network. Social networking tools have utterly changed the workplace.
How does a leader respond? There are already some exciting new alternatives taking shape. In today’s volatile, interconnected business world, leaders must thrive on creativity. Rather than relying only on themselves, or their fellow senior executives, they must learn how to influence, leverage and mobilize their extended networks to discover the wisest solutions.
Linking, connecting and transparency spell success. Smarter leaders are democratizing their companies by building digital nervous systems where employees can collaborate, compete and own their decision-making power.
This has happened at IBM, where we influence teammates who work around the globe, and is part of other business units—part and parcel of our shift and transformation into a globally integrated enterprise, where we harness the potential of our global presence and put work where it can be done best—based on the right talent, skills, economics and overall business environment. Building trust is crucial. Authenticity is at the core.
Not everyone is good at new leadership approaches. Style is crucial, and managers with a “my-way-or-the-highway” approach will meet resistance. So will convergent thinkers—those with linear, logical approaches to problem solving who quash those with different views. New leaders are adept at divergent thinking—admitting all points of view. They lead by listening and guiding discussions to their most efficient and effective outcomes.
One of the best ways to bring people into a circle of trust is to use data in a strategic fashion—we call it “making friends” with data. Sharing and providing data or information that is relevant builds trust in your network. Using the insights that data analytics can yield, we can show different constituencies where they share common agreement.
This puts problems and solutions in a global, integrated context. And it allows leaders to show how actions affect everyone, not just their own teams, companies or countries.
Smarter leadership entails a lot of collaboration and partnership. It requires long-term planning and adaptive styles incorporating and harnessing the essence of diversity and inclusion. More importantly, leaders today must think global and execute locally.
These are the kinds of transformational changes smarter leaders are helping to usher in every day. The challenge now is to spread the word further. Forward thinkers who embrace change and put innovation to work in their organizations, their industries, their networks will make the world better and smarter.
Source: Manilla Bulletin Publishing Corporation