Strong leadership is essential for a business to flourish and succeed in an increasingly complex world. The degree of complexity is growing as the connected, digital economy takes hold across the commercial ecosystem. Data is fast becoming a key business asset, ranking alongside people, operational culture and financial dexterity as elements essential to growth, profitability and competitiveness. In addition, in today's complex and diverse commercial environment, companies which are not in tune with the political and economic nuances of the landscape invariably fail. No company is immune, whether a large corporate or a small enterprise. Global economic shock does not discriminate. Staying alert to - and where possible - anticipating political and economic change is key but even more relevant is retaining a willingness and desire to transform and change. Strong, intelligent and sympathetic leadership is fundamental to keeping pace with such digitally- inspired transformation.
Technology - friend or foe?
Business leaders can easily be swayed by technology and persuaded to buy the latest suite of digital tools in the assumption that it will propel them into the lead. The leaders in our increasingly digital world need the certainty of confident decision making if they are to make decisions for the right reasons, not beguiled by the increasing number of technologies being pushed towards them.
Transformation to retain a competitive edge is about creating a winning culture, seizing the advantage to be gained by imaginative ideas and innovation, the adoption of new, game-changing technologies, and motivating the most important business assets of people and teams, to be the willing drivers on the route to success. But there are numerous examples in large companies where, despite the application of technology, tortuous levels of approvals, bureaucracy and risk aversion remain, prolonging decision making, introducing unnecessary complexities and adding considerable cost. Such a culture stifles agility, strangles innovation and starts a business on the inevitable downward spiral to oblivion. The leader in the digital world, where data is instantly available and displayed, needs the courage to permit rapid decision making to get inside the competition's decision cycle - being able to think and act faster than a competitor in order to win. That requires the courage to take risks.
Trust, support and team work break down barriers
The need to trust leaders in this volatile environment is fundamental. Trusted leaders are supported leaders. Supported leaders breed active team work. Team work creates a culture where anything is possible and achievable.. Not doing so in the new, digitised world, makes a mockery of the very technology which is there to transform the business by serving the people who will drive that transformation.
The culture must embrace the complex demands of leadership and encourage development and progress, giving impetus to the imagination of the young employees. Interns and graduates arrive enthusiastic and full of promise - all too often that enthusiasm is dampened by corporate processes and behaviours and the potential power of the individual is lost.
Leadership, sustainability and resilience to reduce fear of the future
To conclude, leaders who embrace the demands of the increasingly complex digital world will empower their people to think widely, to act differently and to be part of the success which comes from the appropriate use of relevant technology. Achieve the right balance and the company will strike the perfect relationship between customers and their expectations, business and its drive for efficiency and competitiveness, and academia as the powerhouse for developing the people at the heart of the digital future.
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