by | Megat Shahrul Azam Megat Burhainuddin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Royal flames will carve the path in chaos Bringing daylight to the night
Death is riding in the town with armor
Because thail take all your rights
Hail to the king, hail to the one
Kneel to the crown, stand in the sun
Hail to the king (hail, hail, hail, the king)
Blood is spilled while holding keys to the throne
Born again, but it’s too late to atone
No mercy from the edge of the blade
Thail’ll escape and learn the price to be paid
– Avenged Sevenfold –
Oh how times have changed from ye old age of how we perceive on what the requisites in becoming a King have been. Gone were the days where blood is shed and challenges are overcome. No more do we see where Kings are determined based on the tip of a sword and their strength in battle. It’s the journey from where we were and to where we are now that depicts the evolution of Kings or in other words the Evolution of Leaders.
What is leadership?
According to MindTools, the word “leadership” can bring to mind a variety of images.
• A political leader, pursuing a passionate, personal cause.
• An explorer, cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his group to follow.
• An executive, developing his or her company’s strategy to beat the competition.
MindTools also reiterates that leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or an organisation; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.
Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.
If we look back in time, we can see leadership as a concept—and as a set of qualities—has changed almost beyond recognition.
The evolution of leadership?
In the beginning, power of leaders came from sources which were divine or mythical in nature. Think of how Arthur became King by pulling a sword from a stone which was once the acceptable standards in acknowledging the divine rights for kings to rule. During those ancient times, people ruled because they happened to be born into the right family or because they could command the strongest armies. Those were the days leadership meant giving orders and being obeyed, usually because of fear of retribution, whether in this lifetime or the next. As they say during those days, “Off with their heads”.
Defining leaders during those days: authoritarian, insulated from followers, demanding and dominating, expected unquestioning obedience, used fear and abuse to coerce their followers, and were rare people felt that few people were capable of being powerful leaders.
Fast forward to the 21st century, digital technologies have disrupted everything, not only within IT, but also leadership styles and how we manage our organisations. Leaders at every tech company are not digital leaders, but it is undisputed that Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are two of the best examples today.
First and foremost, there is a difference in management styles. Both men have the gift to inspire their employees to innovate and “hold” onto these ideas. Their acumen in applying benchmarks of digital leadership shows a fast, cross-hierarchical, cooperative, and team-oriented approach often integrating the innovation peak ideals of Silicon Valley. Above all, the personal competence, the mindset, and the application of new methods (or instruments such as “design thinking”) are crucial. According to Oxford Leadership there are several traits that are exhibited, ones that we also use to differentiate Leadership 4.0.
Seven things successful leaders in the digital age do differently
Traditional managers clearly define responsibilities, roles and are team-oriented. Crossfunctional tasks beyond the manager’s outlined hierarchy immediately lead to conflicts.
Digital leaders learn how to distribute tasks according to the situation and team competence, where the abilities of managers together with employees are continually linked; success means all participants contribute their competence through networking and intelligence.
Traditional managers control orders, plan resources, and evaluate results (and as a rule, their own comfort zone will define the borders of a project).
Digital leaders control voting processes and discourse, evaluate tasks and results together with team members, and use resources according to potential and competence (crossfunctional and cross-hierarchical); practical results are generated by integrating constant feedback between internal and external stakeholders.
Distribution of information
Traditional leaders typically distribute information under an obligation to provide data in a “strategic” and piecemeal manner (embodiment of the “knowledge is power” syndrome). Freedom of information (or choice) leads to control mania.
Digital leaders create a transparent framework, counts on a “collectable debt” of selfresponsibility and proactive behaviours.
Objectives and assessments
Assessing the performance of employees individually in fixed cycles is within the comfort zone of a traditional manager. Situations determine the need for assessing employees and teams equally by a digital leader, with exchange/ feedback continually occurring.
Mistakes and conflicts
Rules with consequences for violations avoid mistakes are the hopeful path the traditional manager takes before conflicts occur. An open atmosphere with the learning effect in errors is endorsed by digital leaders, who places the company’s own responsibility for solutions in the foreground.
Maintaining budgets, stable quality, and minimise risks are a priority for the traditional managers, leaving little room for creativity. The energy of a digital leader sustains the highlevel willingness and ability for change within the company while deliberately promoting as well as encouraging high agility between the market, customers, and employees.
Creating the latest ideas for new products is typically extremely challenging for a traditional leader, as it does not fit the normal cycles or processes. The future is invented and designed; a digital leader knows innovations are based on a team’s focus on a common goal to make the best possible use of the abilities of each individual (right potential). Innovation is learnable; this is helped by transforming old structures through the use of multidisciplinary teams, flexible working environments, and creative processes.
The Importance of shifting mindset and a view of the world today
It has been said that it is more difficult to sustainably change yourself from within than learned new skills. This is because adjustments mean new thought patterns are adopted, developed as habits, and energise future actions. Easy you say? I assure you it is not.
According to Oxford Leadership, agility is the key principle of digital leadership, relating to customer orientation and responding directly to the needs as well as desires of a target group. At the same time, Leadership 4.0 is about the involvement of employees, their individual abilities, motivations, and ideas. An open, transparent, and innovative culture is the basis for high agility, rapid market adaptation, and the DNA within the digital leader.
Digital leaders must give much more responsibility to their teams in order for them to efficiently react to robust changes in the market by giving their employees a lot of freedom (and trust) in their own decisions. The co-creative fast community culture of the world today requires a high learning flexibility of each individual as essential.
The future cannot be dictated from the outside; it is invented and designed from within.
The future of leadership
Taking into account the fast-changing world today, leadership is bound to change radically in the near future. Due to the unpreparedness of many leaders towards the economy around them, leadership development programs should provide training aimed at developing skills for addressing problems arising from economy globalisation and current leadership gaps.
According to Monica Wells, a Team Leader at http://www.bizdb.co.uk/ we’ll surely see more management policies fostering sustainability and witness a transition from the autocratic, command-and-control management style to its democratic variety. When it comes to leadership of the future, we’ll finally see its human face employed as a growing factor in business success by many global brands.