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10 Must Have Attributes to Be a Highly Effective Leader in the Digital World

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We are heading towards a world driven by artificial intelligence, machines & technology. The digital revolution has changed the way businesses, societies and humans operate in their day to day lives. The digital world demands constant evolution, reinvention and innovation to excel. It needs highly effective leadership to steer through these transitions. Leaders in the digital world need to be agile, open minded, and collaborative to navigate the challenges.

Here we explore the 10 attributes that make highly effective leaders:

1. Empower people

The greatest leaders genuinely believe in the well being of their teams. They rise up the ladder because they empower people and create a synergy effect where the sum total of efforts helps everyone in the team accomplish more.

The job of a leader is to grow and empower people where they can rise to their best. Great leaders have empathy and sensitivity to the needs of their people. They are persistent in the pursuit of improvement for themselves and their teams.

2. Foresight and focus

Today most organisations are driven by digital technologies. The technologies are disrupting old businesses and bringing new evolutions. The best leaders are able to make the right bets. They have the foresight to understand what the future will hold for them because they are quick and adaptive but focused on what they want to achieve.

3. Global outlook

The digital world is interconnected and bereft of barriers that curtail opportunities. Today, it is relatively easier to build things and reach more people than ever. They attract opportunities by looking for global distribution models and collaboration.

Companies like Google, Apple, Netflix, Facebook and Amazon have all been driven by leadership, especially relevant to the digital age. It has resulted in enormous growth, scalability and unprecedented success for these companies.

4. Building strong relationships & trust

A Harvard Business Review survey reveals 58 percent of people say they trust strangers more than their own boss. It’s shocking, but true. The culture of trust is built by open communication. You embrace your team’s faults as well as their strengths. It is not a zero sum game; in fact you only win when your team wins.

Great leaders establish trust, because they are authentic themselves. They communicate, operate with transparency and never mislead their people. You build trust by being trustworthy yourself. 

“The glue that holds all relationships together–including the relationship between the leader and the led–is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” – Brian Tracy

5. Accomplishments, not just activity

In the digital age, getting busy doing nothing is quite common. Even the best ones are led into the trap of mistaking activity for progress. The most effective leaders are able to draw the line between activity and results. These leaders are able to set benchmarks that result in progress oriented work for their teams and themselves. They understand the value of time, prioritise stuff and get things done. They benchmark their progress with the right metrics to achieve the key result areas.

6. Develop more leaders

A great leader develops more leaders at all levels. The reason it becomes more relevant in the digital world is because decisions need to be taken at all levels. It is no longer the top down approach. For many decisions and actions, the top leaders depend on advice from those working down the ladder.

People working on actual problems should be empowered to make their own decisions. As a leader, you have to trust their knowledge and guide them to acquire more skills. The best leaders are open to new ideas and approaches. They can change their opinion to do what is in the best interest of the team.

7. Self organise, learn and grow

When opportunities are limitless, it is important to identify key focus areas beyond the hype, noise and fads. The best leaders have a knack of picking the right trends that help them in their quest for sustainable success over a period of time. They are able to build teams which have the capacity to self organise, learn, and grow together. The knowledge base keeps evolving in the digital world so it is indispensable to keep yourself updated.

8. View failures as experiments

The best leaders view failures as experimentation to learn and get things right. It takes time to get things right when you are innovating. They give space to people to fail, experiment and build incredible things. Leadership is often tested during failures. The digital world needs constant evolution, innovation and to reimagine new business models. It requires iterations and experiments to make things work.

Even the most innovative companies fail in their experiments, but they channelize learnings from these failures to build better solutions. The best leaders encourage their teams to experiment, evolve and build incredible things as a result.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” – Richard Branson

9. Unflinching faith and commitment

What separates great leaders from ordinary ones? It is often the courage, conviction and the unflinching faith in their mission. It is the commitment and drive towards making something happen. They give it everything.

The strong conviction and ability to bear the pain for common good is what makes them great leaders. They are driven by a higher purpose and they are ready to sacrifice things to achieve it. They think long term and they don’t give up until they’re done.

10. Stay fit to be productive & effective

When you’re energetic and ready to go, the team picks up the cues. The best leaders prioritise their health, exercise and stay fit. It helps them add more time to their day and makes them more productive. The leadership role demands intense concentration, high energy and ability to handle stress.

The truly remarkable leaders excel on emotional, intellectual, physical and mental levels. Leaders like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson work out to stay fit. They devote time to stay at their peak.

The digital world is an age of communication, transparency and empowerment. Leaders in business today are influencing relationships with other countries. Trade is shattering boundaries between nations and creating a level playing field promoting globalism. The digital leaders are writing the rules of the game, reshaping our world, and its future.

Which one of the above 10 leadership attributes resonated most with you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Apoorve Dubey is the founder and C.E.O of Kreyon Systems Pvt. Ltd, a fast growing Software company that serves clients in more than 10 countries. He is an alumnus of IIT Madras. He is the author of the best-selling book, “The Flight of Ambition” published by Macmillan and a co-author of “Successful organisations in action”. The driving passion in his life remains to be able to contribute to the success of others. To know more about Apoorve and his work, you can visit www.kreyonsystems.com, his twitter handle is https://twitter.com/ApoorveDubey.

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