Future of Leadership in the Digital Economy
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What will it take to become a great leader in the digital economy? What will be the differentiating skill sets (what individuals will need to do) and mind-sets (how they will need to think and behave) that will shed light on what it will take to lead next-generation organizations effectively? We have set out to address these important questions as the foundation for MIT Sloan Management Review’s newest Big Ideas Initiative: The Future of Leadership in the Digital Economy.
Since it is impossible to know the future with certainty, we started by establishing a hypothesis about what skills and attributes this future leader might possess. We laid that hypothesis out in my first blog post, “Leading Into the Future,” in which we indicated that there will be both contextual elements (meaning fit for purpose for the digital economy) and core enabling elements (meaning traits that are so important that they form the cultural fabric of an organization). Merged together, we believe these core and contextual elements will help define what great leadership will look and feel like in the digital economy.
This was a good start, but an insufficient one, because we need to bridge the gap between what we know to be true today and what we believe will be true tomorrow. To help build that bridge, we fielded a global survey to thousands of practicing managers and leaders from around the world to get their views on this matter. We have also been conducting in-depth interviews with CEOs, C-suite team members, heads of digitalization, senior line and functional leaders, and other thought leaders in all things digital.
Leadership Characteristics: Identifying the Usual Suspects
Go to any management conference today and you’ll hear a litany of the now-familiar buzzwords about the qualities of the leader of the future. To begin testing our hypothesis that would guide this project, we decided to formulate our own top 10 list of future leadership requirements to see how closely our assumptions about future leadership effectiveness in the digital economy will align with the survey responses and with the views of those whom we’ll be interviewing.