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Help your Leaders Transition to a Digital World – Start Peer Coaching Initiatives

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Enterprises have been talking about VUCA for years. VUCA, an acronym for the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous world of today, seems to be on steroids now with disruption and a rapidly evolving business environment. The pandemic has contributed further to this VUCA environment, leading us into the future of work, where the lines dividing the digital and the physical are blurred. 

As the workforce and the workplace digitally transform, leadership models have to evolve as well, to remain effective and relevant in this new world. In today’s complex and challenging environment, leaders not only have to make sound business decisions that increase profitability, but also focus deeply on how their leadership is experienced, and how they can make their key stakeholders that include the employees, customers, and investors, feel more valued.

The transition to this digital world is to drive organizational agility, adaptability and enable customer-centricity. Along with these benefits, digital transformation can deliver unforeseen risks and unanticipated costs if organizational leaders do not alter how they exert influence, power, and control. 

Successful organizational digital transformation is only complete when leaders can transform themselves, measurably. In this digitally transformed world, the new bottom line demands the leadership’s own affective digital transformation – one that places equal importance on engagement, purpose, empathy, and fairness as other parameters of data-driven agility or efficiency and productivity.

The leadership transition challenge

Given the changing times, organizations need to revamp their leadership development initiatives and make them more suited to fit this ever-evolving world. The leader’s action or inaction can significantly influence the course of a business. Yet, despite high stakes, leaders are underprepared and under-supported during the transition.

The move towards becoming impactful virtual leaders is a significant transition point for leaders of today. Navigating this transition successfully with the right tools, to lead the digital workforce can influence organizational fortunes significantly.

Research shows that while leadership transitions are important, they are hardly easy. 

Even in the good old days, leaders ranked organizational politics as a big hurdle that impacted successful transitions. 68% flounder on issues related to politics, culture, and people, while 67% of leaders wish they had moved faster to change the culture.  

The rules of engagement have changed dramatically, as has the pace of change, client and employee expectations coupled with digital progress. So much so that it makes sense to follow Marshall Goldsmith’s advice, “What got you here, won’t get you there”.

As we move deeper into VUCA and a digital world, the need for leadership transition from being a remote boss to a virtual leader is only going to increase. According to research, most leadership development programs fail, as leaders do not feel appropriately supported as new leaders. Almost 74% of leaders in the US and 83% globally feel that they are underprepared for their roles. As such, organizations need to revamp their leadership development programs to become relevant for this shape-shifting world of work.  

Managing the leadership transition to lead successfully in a digital world needs organizations to provide greater support to their leaders and move their development programs away from the usually followed ‘hands-off’ approach.

Leadership development for the digital world needs an almost complete rewiring of traditional approaches of the directive and authoritative leadership styles and has to account for the individual development needs of the leaders.

Why Peer Coaching leads the way?

Cervantes once said that “to be prepared is half the battle won”.  

Successful leadership transitions in this digital age are a marriage of both.

Digital work has different demands from leaders. To be an effective leader in this dynamic world, along with technical knowledge, leaders need to be more mindful, empathetic, resilient, impactful, and agile.

With traditional models of leadership failing to hold water to today’s relevance, developing leaders require helping them cultivate new perspectives on leadership. 

  • Organizations need to create the right channels and provide the right tools that assist leaders in identifying effective leadership styles and the blind spots in their leadership. 
  • Leaders need to adapt to the challenges that organizations face in a digital environment and go on a journey of learning to lead themselves and then translating that knowledge to lead others and forming effective collaborations.
  • Leaders need the insights and the skills to overcome the challenges of the existing leadership culture and develop the right perspectives to design the appropriate strategies that translate into impactful outcomes in a digital world.

Peer Coaching becomes the antidote to leadership inertia – an essential to thrive in a digital landscape across an organization that is no longer siloed and bureaucratic and no longer responds to the and command-and-control models. 

Peer Coaching assists in leadership transitions as it:

  • Helps leaders develop the power skills like empathy, emotional intelligence, communication, critical and strategic thinking, and self-awareness, etc.
  • Assists leaders identify and develop the traits to become adaptive leaders. 
  • Develops autonomy to be innovative while providing the guardrails to prevent chaos.
  • Identifies authentic leadership styles and develops the language to communicate their styles with impact, emphasis, and authenticity. 
  • Helps leaders become ‘complete’ leaders. Most leaders are ‘incomplete leaders’ who excel at one thing and struggle with another. Navigating through these gaps along with developing the capability to understand and communicate their unique way of leading based on experience, values, strengths, and personality; is critical to adapt in the digital world. 
  • Improves ‘sensemaking’, an essential quality for a rapidly evolving and digital work environment. Satya Nadella of Microsoft has been a sense-maker throughout his Microsoft stint. He learned this skill by frequently changing jobs. Organizations can leverage peer coaching to help their leaders develop the skills to improve sensemaking. It helps them identify and assess what additional sensemaking they need to do to stay in step with the changing market conditions, business models, workforces, and technologies.   
  • Helps digital leaders identify ways to inspire their team members for engagement and to secure buy-in. While technology connects teams, the screens can create barriers that inhibit connection. Peer coaching helps digital leaders build transparency, integrity, and empathy to evaluate strategies to overcome technological barriers and to connect with team members with authenticity.
  • Provides leaders with the support to navigate the ‘Age of Accelerations’ where change is inevitable and invariably faster. In this age, emerging as a transformational leader who inspires the workforce to enact organizational transformation needs to develop specific power skills. Peer coaching can make this transition easier and more effective by influencing behavioral shifts necessary to drive change.

Leadership development is imperative to align with the ever-evolving leadership fundamentals in the digital age.

Leadership development programs now provide crucial leadership support by providing clarity, support, and direction to help them communicate with purpose, create a compelling vision, decipher complexity with ease and energize, and inspire everyone with an inclusive vision. 

With Peer Coaching, organizations can help leaders make the necessary behavioral shifts needed to become more adaptable, handle higher pressures with ease and act with agility.

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered peer coaching platform can revamp your leadership development initiatives and help you build leaders who will help your organization thrive.

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