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The Guide for Leadership Development in the Age of Digital Transformation

By: Aylin Bozkurt Tuzmen

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2020 has proved us that traditional leadership skills, approaches, and mindsets aren’t suited to tackling the challenges of the new normal. Organizations have to be equipped to train, upskill, and reskill their leaders to achieve resilience and agility at all levels. Which core competencies should leaders have and how can organizations implement those benchmark standards for their leaders?

We are happy to partner with Aylin Bozkurt Tüzmen from High Dreams Coaching & Mentoring Services, and here are her thoughts and experiences on the matter.

Digital transformation, which has made its presence stronger with the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, causes a system change that creates a social and economic impact, while also reshaping the notions of leadership. In this new era, all employees – not just the top management – should be included in the collective leadership network. 

Future Leadership Challenges

Digital transformation, Industry 4.0, and artificial intelligence have significant impacts on organizational context. Those impacts surely impose new challenges for the leaders. IBM Global CEO study results are not a surprise:

Over 1500 CEOs puts 1) the pace of the change and 2) the complexity of the challenges faced, to the top of the future leadership challenges.

In addition to the pace and complexity, the other significant challenges for leaders according to the study are:

3.    Information overload that “Big data” brings,

4.    The interconnectedness of systems and business communities,

5.    The dissolving of traditional organizational boundaries,

6.    New technologies that disrupt old work practices,

7.    Increased globalization leading to the need to lead across cultures more than ever before plus new generations entering the workplace with very different values and expectations.

The tremendous uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused drastic changes over the past year, adds more of those challenges.

How Leadership Has Changed

The digital age, with its endless possibilities and challenges, also challenges existing notions of hierarchy and leadership. Leadership is becoming more of a process than a role and is distributed throughout the ecosystems. What is needed in the system and how it can be produced is becoming more important than who the leader is. Hierarchical, one-way and static leadership is being replaced with shared, multi-ways and dynamic leadership which can be enacted by anyone. Leadership will not be position- or authority-related any more. It won’t be from top to down only. It will be from all directions. That’s why it will be very dynamic. Organization-focused leadership will be more network-focused. All stakeholders working collectively will become more creative, more productive, stronger and faster than individuals acting alone.

So far, we were all busy with developing leaders individually. But today’s complexity makes it almost impossible for any individual to overcome these challenges by his/herself. The IBM study says that more than half of the CEOs distrust their ability to manage it. That’s why the new era imposes switching from individual to collective leadership. Just as brains become “smarter” as the number of neural connections is increased, so will organizations that spread their leadership potential throughout the organization and build a culture of collective leadership become smarter.

Leadership is Transformed by Digitalization

According to the Digital Transformation Leadership model that I published in Harvard Business Review Turkey, in April 2017, leaders will need to have and support three smart leadership qualities that emerge in this transition period:

  1. Being digitally smart: Being digital smart is to have a broad vision on how smart business solutions that emerge thanks to digital technologies will transform the existence of organizations, value chains and even stakeholders in their networks. Like predicting the advent of smartphones to turn cameras and navigation devices into digital applications. Being digitally smart requires a learner mindset that is willing to take on new and different challenges.
  1. Being futuristically smart: The new era requires an entrepreneurial mindset that pushes and expands the boundaries of today and imagines a desired future and how to get there. The most important feature that distinguishes futuristically smart business leaders from traditional business leaders is that they are more comfortable with uncertainty and gradually shape the future. They can also use their intuition as important sources of information.
  1. Being co-opetitionally smart: Co-opetition is a combination of collaboration & competition. It involves competitors pooling their knowledge, skills and resources to co-create a new solution or to add greater value to all parties. Such as when you post a photo to Instagram, it lets you post it on Twitter at the same time. To be co-opetitionally smart in this hyper-connected world, leaders need to have an abundance mindset. That means having the belief that “there is enough for everyone and even more when we share.”

While everything is getting smarter with digital transformation technologies, it is impossible to separate leadership development from this digitalization process. For this reason, at High Dreams, we’ve partnered with the SparkUs Digital Coaching Platform to support organizations for them to reveal the strengths of employees at all levels and to spread the leadership potential throughout the organization. 

With this cooperation, we are delighted to be able to contribute to organizational leadership development at all levels, as we set out to provide a scalable and effective coaching experience to all employees on a digitally aided coaching platform. The coaching process, which can be tailored to the needs of each employee and whose results are measurable, consists of comprehensive applications aimed at organizational leadership development at all levels and can be used throughout the year. The digitally aided coaching platform of SparkUs offers a proven process with 87% efficient coaching output and 85% user satisfaction.

High Dreams Coaching & Mentoring Services

Aylin Bozkurt Tüzmen, PCC, ACPC,

Leadership & Team Coach

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