Future of Leadership in the Digital Economy
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“Without mastering collaborative relationships, both inside and outside the company, we won’t produce the outcomes needed to win our customers’ business.”
— Lori Beer, chief information officer, JPMorgan Chase
Mastering personal relationships that build trust and create a collaborative work environment is central to leadership effectiveness in the digital economy. This skill set distinguishes great leaders from merely good ones, based on my interviews with C-suite executives in companies around the world.
In a digital business environment, great leaders are those who appreciate and understand the power of technology and analytics. But that alone is insufficient. They must also have the skills and mindsets to bring together people from diverse businesses and functions to deliver superior customer outcomes. As Lori Beer, CIO at JPMorgan Chase, says:
“We don’t need everybody to know how to write the perfect API, but we do need people with a passion for working together to create an understanding of how those APIs, a blockchain, the cloud, AI, and machine learning can change the way you think about delivering services to our customers.”
Why Mastering Relationships Matters
Great leaders have always done three things exceptionally well:
- Inspire teams that continuously produce innovative, cost-effective products and services that generate superior outcomes for customers and shareholders.
- Create inclusive working environments that foster collaboration and employee growth and continuous development.
- Conduct business responsibly to benefit communities and society.
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In an increasingly digital economy, today’s leaders need to address each of these leadership challenges with a renewed focus on relationship building.
Inspiring teams to produce differentiated outcomes. In the digital world, the idea of teams has both expanded and morphed dramatically. Many companies today operate in an ecosystem world, meaning that they might be a core platform in one environment and an ecosystem partner in another. As such, companies can be both “team members” and competitors with other companies. This dynamic requires not only sophisticated legal arrangements but also a significant dose of trust and relationship-building capability to operate effectively. Moreover, at the intracompany level, as Beer explains, business leaders and functional experts need to build relationships across silos to spot new opportunities and respond quickly to them.