Where are all the (digital) leaders?

I stumbled across this quote a few months ago and it has stuck in my head with regards to the ‘digital mindset’..

The past decade was about finding new collaboration and innovation models on the web. The next decade will be about applying them to the real world. — Chris Anderson, editor of Wired Magazine.

For some time now we’ve had the technological tools to break down silos and connect with people inside and outside our organisations, and yet it seems like we’re still struggling to bring those advantages to bear.

If we ignore the digital part and just focus on leadership for the moment — this alone is a tricky part of the equation. Most of us are still working within hierarchies. How many of those empower staff to use the full breadth of their talents rather than just their designated job title? How many leaders are able to admit they don’t have the answers and are able to place trust in those around them to discover them?

Which brings me on to fear. Working more openly means being more open. We all have irrational (and occasionally semi-rational) fears about saying the things that are often left unsaid. Fear of losing influence. Fear of losing control. Fear of losing respect or integrity. Somewhat counter-intuitively, working more openly would actually boost all of these things.

I worry that when we pre-fix things with ‘digital’ we often look at them as entirely new challenges, when in effect it’s the same old challenge as before — just with a different set of tools attached. Whilst technology is rapidly accelerating, human behaviour plods along behind. Therein lies the ultimate challenge… and why ‘culture’ has become the new thing to hack.


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