That is possible! Of course, not of all us are leadership experts in terms of book smartness. But we are all leadership experts in terms of street smartness. Means, we all have leadership experience, as ever since we are born, we lead and are being led, right? We all somehow know what we are talking about.
Leadership values are – to us - always tied to a personality instead of having a one-size-fits-it-all approach So, let´s have a look at leadership from three perspectives:
We start diving into the “better me” by asking: Do you think leadership qualities come along with a certain age? I don´t think so. How often in history it was the young to inspire the old! Anne Frank, Greta, Malala – the Beatles were teenagers when they entered the stage and Pelé was only 16 when he played football among the world´s best. I am convinced the young are inspiring leaders, not despite but because of their age. They naturally display my top three leadership characteristics: #authenticity #humility #humanism.
Authenticity costs energy, but it´s worth it
The older we get the more we start pretending and hiding parts of our personality to fit into the system. That saves energy – but costs authenticity. And yes, authenticity costs energy as it means practicing what we preach. And doing so it might reveal helpful leadership behavior like the ability to give and receive critical feedback. Like being honest with ourselves and others. Or to #daretomakemistakes.
And we all know: Mistakes can be a chance to grow. So, what prevents us from embracing our mistakes? Self-centricity it could be? As bestselling author Simon Sinek says: The value of leadership is not measured by the work you do, but by the work you inspire others to do. So let´s ask: Can self-centered people be good leaders? Are they able to let someone else win the medal? What do you think?
Humility leads us from “me” to “we”
This brings me to the second “better me”-characteristic, that unfortunately didn´t receive much attention in leadership research until recently: humility - to which referred in terms of Buddhism means: “don´t take yourself too important”. Watching the current act on the big world stage we get an idea of how important humility seems to be as it leads us from “it´s all about me” to “it´s all about we” So: Humility brings us into the same team.
Humanism means being nice, respectful, and focused on the needs of others
And here we are: Leadership doesn´t take effect in a one-man-show, right? So welcome to the better team chapter to which the third leadership characteristic it dedicated to: it´s humanism. In today´s VUCA world we can neither rely on strategies as they are moving faster than ever; nor on products or services as they are tied to changing needs. After all, we can only rely on the people we going to face our next challenge with. Everything else is transcending. Listening to experts talking about artificial intelligence they disagree a lot but are at one that machines cannot replace #empathy.
In this regard I love Minouche Shafik, the Director of the London School of Economics, saying “in the past, jobs were about muscles, now they´re about brains, but in the future they´ll be about the heart”. And talking about hearts has nothing romantic. Instead, the heart represents skill that distinguish us from machines: like compassion, resilience, and trust. So not our cognitive but our emotional intelligence will be key for customer-, user- or employee-centricity. In the end, it´ll all be about the needs of the people. And about using the power of sensitive teams to catalyze innovation.
Leadership in IT and Tech means to act and react in a multi speed setting
Now we are talking about better innovation having a look at leadership requirements in IT and Tech. The good news is: from my point of view they don´t differ from leadership requirements anywhere else. It is about #authenticity #humility and a #humanism.
But what makes leadership in IT and Tech so special then? It´s the frame conditions in which innovation emerges! We experience a shift of strategies in the “who follows who”-debate asking: Does IT still follow business? Or is business already following IT? This seems to be a struggle of who is more important to the value chain of the company. But hey, what about if both are important equally?
IT/Tech-business relations are a dance of pacing and leading on-demand
So why keep fighting the self-centered master-servant-battle if it would be way more efficient to switch between pacing and leading on-demand? On the one side, IT needs to “run” in order to support the business with IT services. Here, IT is in a pacing mode. On the other hand, IT “plans and builds” as innovation driver. Here, IT is leading.
But soon, we won’t be able to plan, build and run any longer. Instead, we will go for #multispeedIT models that require fast action and reaction. And with this, leaders in IT and Tech will have to face two challenges: Drawing visions whilst anticipating when it´s time to switch gears; and keep inspiring in uncertainty to bring out the best in the people.
Leadership brings out another R.O.I. aspect, the return on inspiration
So let´s stop talking about the R.O.I. the return on invest – instead let´s start talking the #returnoninspiration – which is innovation. Leadership has neither to do with management, nor with positions or disciplinary responsibility. Leadership is a mindset. It´s about personality. It´s a choice. And it always starts with leading ourselves before we lead others.
So how about you? Have you already chosen to lead? Let us know!