Join Charlene Li for an in-depth discussion in this video What is a Digital Leader, part of Charlene Li on Digital Leadership.
- To get started let's do an exercise to really understand what it means to be a digital leader, and to do that think about the best leader you've ever had the privilege to work with. It could be your current leader. It could be a coach from your childhood. Think about that person, have them in your mind, and think about how that person made you feel, and describe it with one word, and just say it aloud with me. Now some of the words I've heard people say are things like empowered, listened to, successful, invincible.
What is in common with leadership and what leadership has always been about is about the exercise of power and influence to achieve an end, and the end result is really about how that person makes you feel, so that you're united together to achieve incredible things. And technology has changed this profoundly, because now the relationship is through these digital channels, too, as well. Many of us have experienced what it means to have a really moving, deep relationship with somebody through all of these digital channels; and now that place has come into leadership too, as well.
It's no longer about being able to sit across from somebody or somebody next to you, and be able to look them in the eye and shake their hand. To be a credible and effective leader today you must be able to harness all of these technologies and transform into a digital and engaged leader. My definition of an engaged leader is someone who uses digital, mobile, and social tools to strategically achieve very clear goals. Now this sounds pretty basic, but it's tricky, and it can be very uncomfortable because of this insertion of all that technology.
Oftentimes, when I talk to people they go, "It doesn't feel comfortable," and I oftentimes say that if you're right now sitting there and you're thinking about having to do this and your palms are sweaty and your stomach is churning, then you're exactly where you need to be. Because this is not something that is clear and cut and dry, because it's relationships, and relationships are messy, and they're unpredictable, and they're so wonderful, too, because so many good things can come out of them. Today what we're gonna be doing is creating a strategic and grounded approach to your leadership in the digital era.
This is very different than using digital in your personal life. You may be posting on Facebook pictures from your vacations, connecting with long lost friends. This is about leadership though and about harnessing the power of these new channels to achieve your objectives. Let me give you an example. Ginni Rometty is the CEO of IBM, and she has a Twitter account that she never uses. Now, she has an account open so she and her team can hear what people are saying about IBM and about her leadership, but she has chosen not to use Twitter; and yet, I consider her to be one of the most engaged digital leaders out there.
When I asked her why she doesn't tweet, she goes, "I can't be authentic in that space, "but I use it to listen to what people are saying." What she shared was that she chooses instead to share with video, internally and externally, and she is very active in internal discussions inside of IBM. She knows that her goal is to change IBM, and that begins with having a connection and relationship with employees. For her, Twitter was not strategic; it was not going to help her achieve her goals.
So to create your strategy it's really important to write down your goals. And I encourage you to take a piece of paper and write down just one, two, maybe three goals that you are trying to achieve right now as a leader, because that is going to be the center of what we are going to talk today in this course. The technologies will come and go, but your leadership, your objectives, how you want to appear as a leader to the people you will lead is going to be the guiding point for this journey.
In this course, she explains the three steps for extending leadership into the digital space: listening, sharing, and engaging. With her tips, you can transform your professional relationships with employees, peers, and influencers. At the end of each chapter, she provides a list of questions to help you get started on your next step.
- Listening at scale
- Scanning your environment
- Choosing the right type of engagement
- Cultivating followers