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Don't confuse 'digital leadership' with actual leadership.



If you are a leader in 2022, you may be feeling increasing pressure to become a ‘digital leader’. Don’t let this ‘buzzword-du-jour’ distract or confuse you!


As leaders, we have three roles:


> Command (the power and authority afforded to our role)

> Management (the science of setting objectives, managing resources etc)

> Leadership (the art of positively influencing our team)


If you google ‘digital leadership’, your browser will offer you more than a billion results in a little over half a second. Click on the links, and the ‘digital leadership’ you will read about is actually more accurately described as ‘digital management’.


It deals with some tangible aspects of a leader’s role in a modern workplace; things like managing modern communication systems, utilising big data and tracking team behaviour with smart phone apps.


Don’t fall into the trap of believing any of this is actual leadership! It is management; an essential role, but not one that will engage or motivate your team, nor will it lead to synergy.


Leadership hasn’t fundamentally changed across the centuries, and it won’t be changing anytime soon. It’s all about motivating your people.

The same leadership which Hannibal used to cross the alps is the same leadership which Ernest Shackleton displayed while leading his team out of Antarctica.


The same leadership Toto Wolff uses to lead Mercedes is the same leadership Herb Kelleher used at SouthWest airlines.


If you want highly engaged teams who bring their absolute best to work everyday, you MUST lead them. Relying on command and management (digital or otherwise) will not bring you success.


A few essential ‘leadership’ tasks:


> Provide a bold and exciting vision for the future.

> Effectively communicate what this vision means for your team; they are always asking ‘what’s in it for me?’

> Get to know your team intimately, in their environment. Not from your office.


Command is essential, as is management; ‘Digital leadership’ as it is defined today, may be an essential subset of the science of managing your team. But it shouldn’t be confused with leadership.


"Leadership is the art of positively motivating a group towards a common goal."

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