The New Age of Digital Leadership – Content sponsored by PDA International
Imagine being among the first group of managers tasked with digitizing their systems and processes. Technological advances over recent decades brought incremental and sometimes transformative changes to how we work, play, and live. In the work environment, automation and digitalization brought increased efficiencies to organizations and intensified competition in virtually all sectors. Still, today’s business leaders have tall demands when it comes to technology and effectively managing people. This is why I believe it is essential for leaders at all levels to evolve along with this technology and from our experience at PDA International, there are several key ways to effectively do so. First, leaders must embrace and leverage the digital resources they have to engage and manage their teams through technology. They must also stay abreast of new and cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of the competition. As we learned from experience, managers who are able to do both are the ones that help inspire employees to achieve individual, team, and organizational results.
When PDA International arrived in Mexico four years ago, after working hand-in-hand with the team at PDA International HQ in Argentina for almost three years, we found ourselves in a situation that required adaptation. We were tasked with doing remote work efficiently and quickly. We had to rely on technology to achieve the demands of this new environment. Using an online behavioral tool, we generated compatibility reports to identify the people in our team who would deploy competencies such as agile or iterative feedback and dynamic collaboration in a natural way.
Working across country borders and leading remote teams have become the norm. The development of digital leadership is now not only of great importance but also required.
However, it is important to note that digital transformation is not just about successfully deploying novel technology. It is also about how we employ that technology to best serve our needs. It is about how we use technology to develop strategies, structures, interpersonal skills and culture. It is about how we use those innovations to better understand our clients and employees.
One of our first few lessons, during our early days in Mexico, was how to build trust in remote teams. We later found that ultimately this lesson would be applicable to other projects and allow us to continue learning from each cycle – where digital leadership takes on a main role. The following is our shortlist of takeaways.
Build a culture of trust by honoring the Human Factor
It has always been important for our team to communicate with accuracy, honesty and transparency. This approach allows us to set goals that incorporate personal mindsets and motivation levels. The human factor cannot be neglected as we become more techonologically savvy. Through sharing with and being interested in one another, we instill trust — a key value for a remote team.
One immediate step we took is to dedicate at least ten minutes of each team meeting or feedback session to the sole purpose of connecting with one another.
Also, and in my personal experience, I have built meaningful bonds with past supervisors that have transcended the workspace. Outside of work, we talk about personal objectives and hobbies, saving our work discussions for traditional business hours. This strengthened those relationships and has offered incredible value to my leadership style.
Great managers promote individual goal ownership
We are hiring new people and at the forefront of those career opportunities is trust. We are finding new ways to value employees’ prior experiences by managing and measuring individual and team results. For example, instead of focusing on the number of calls and emails they send every day, we look at daily goals and let each employee use their own strategy to achieve them. Empowering employees in this way communicates a sense of trust in each individual’s ability to manage their work and time as professionals. Ultimately, leadership can foster a sense of ownership among empoyees by allowing them to determine the most effective and efficient way to achieve their goals.
Great managers promote accountability
We believe that daily goals can be negotiated during feedback sessions. By managing according to results and empowering each individual team member set their own goals, we encourage motivation. At the same time, we reiterate goal ownership and value in achieving them for overall organizational success. In addition to this, we do not demonish mistakes, but rather encourage a growth mindset. Our goal is to take initiative, fail forward, and then learn from our mistakes.
Understanding how each person on our team tackles shared objectives helps leaders adapt to the leadership style that best suits each person. From this employee-focused approach, we can then use the technological tools that allow us to identify the natural motivators and behaviors of our collaborators. So, the more we understand our employees, the more effective we are as leaders in using technology to support our employees and to allow our organization to thrive.
Throughout time, I have learned that building and maintaining a trust culture requires effort, consistency in actions, and patience with yourself and with others. There still is no general consensus on the definition of digital leadership, but in order to become a great digital leader, you must allow the benefits of technology to inform the current context, solve problems strategically, and measure different indicators in order to make decisions based on business objectives and workforce needs.
As you develop other competencies with the help of technology, today I invite you to promote trust in your team as part of your personal agenda.
Regional Sales and Operations Director
PDA International North America
Want to learn more about remote leadership? Download our guide to learn essential skills on how to lead remotely:
This article is sponsored by PDA International.