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The Importance of Leadership and Mindsets in the Digital Age

· Leadership,Culture,Mindsets

Perfectly good strategies can fail not because there is anything wrong with them but because there is a flaw in their implementation. In this blog we look at the importance of organisational design and how digital innovation in particular flourishes much better in certain types of organisation.

 

Organisations are dynamic and living, they are after all about people. One reason why strategies fail is because the organisational design is not fit for purpose. The McKinsey 7-S framework is one good checklist to make sure you cover all the key angles when you are thinking about the design of your organisation: structure, systems, style, staff, skills, strategy and shared values.

 

There are some angles which our recent experience have shown to be particularly important:

The Importance of Leadership

Style - usually taken to be about the style of leadership. This area seems to be particularly in vogue at the moment with lots being written about it and seminars and conferences popping up all over the place. It is one of the ‘softer’ of the 7 elements because it is difficult to describe and less tangible than others. It can be helpful to think about leaders being the people who ask the ‘why’, for example: why do we do this and why do we do it this way? This is in contrast to managers who primarily focus on making things happen in line with established products and processes.

PlanLab thinks of most people as leaders because we all set an example in the way we think, what we talk about, how we talk about it, the tone we use when talking and what we do. Given the old adages that most communication is non-verbal and people watch and believe what you do rather than what you say, this is not surprising. Does your style of leadership reflect the approach that you would like all your staff to adopt?

The Importance of Mindsets

We have all come across staff with lots of relevant knowledge and skills but who loose a lot of their effectiveness because of their approach. This isn't just about how diligent they maybe or even how they work with their colleagues. It is also about their mindset. Are they open to new ideas and ways of doing things - one quote we like is that;

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that can’t read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn." - Alvin Toffle

Similarly, what is really important to them and what are they focused on - are they genuinely focused on the organisation’s mission and it’s beneficiaries or are they focused on personal goals such as personal advancement or a quiet and easy life?

Mindsets are not fixed. In fact unhelpful mindsets can develop over time without good leadership. Equally, helpful mindsets can be grown by good leadership. These changes are often incremental, happening gradually over time, changing for good or ill.

How to Ensure Digital Innovation Can Flourish

Research has shown that digital innovation is much more successful in organisations with certain characteristics. This is not surprising when you hear what they are and we would argue that many of these characteristics are positive whether or not you plan on doing a lot of digital innovation. Amongst others, these characteristics include: a culture of continual learning; collaboration i.e. joint problem solving not just cooperation; a cross functional approach, in other words not thinking and working in silos and a genuine focus on stakeholders.

How many of these characteristics exist as part of your leadership? How have you ensured these characteristics become part of your culture?

We can sit down with you to help you nurture these mindsets within your leadership and organisation - drop us a message to start the conversation.

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