I have always been a believer that the only requisite quality of a leader is that people follow. As I thought this morning specifically about digital leadership, my reflection compelled me to include a few other intangibles: humility, empathy, bedside manner, courage, and resourcefulness.
All of us have been novice with new tools at one point or another. While there are savants among us who naturally ascend to masterful savvy in moments, those are undoubtedly outliers in the digital world. Further, those outliers are rarely digital leaders as they struggle to grasp the importance of humility in the process of leading others for whom the process is far more challenging. The ability to show humility through an empathetic process is integral to strong digital leadership. Being able to connect with someone in a way that drums up discomfort from previous struggles and manifests authentic humility ultimately nurtures the essential relationship between the digital leader and those he/she leads.
Further, the necessary patience and often a disarming self-deprecating sense of humor go a long way in helping our subjects find Maslowian comfort in developing both skill and comfort with digital tools.
Many a brilliant mind has been unsuccessful in a field due to an inability to connect with others due to a poor bedside manner. The aforementioned humility and empathy, combined with the ability to communicate and connect, represent the intangible quality of bedside manner.
From the connected relationship developed by these intangibles, a digital leader must display an unwavering courage in moving forward in pursuit of best practices that will serve his/her people’s process. Once again, archetypal humility and resilience endear a leader to his/her people when courage leads to moments that require iterations. I would be remiss and completely “Un-jeff” if I didn’t reiterate the importance of having and modeling a Dweckian growth mindset in the process.
Finally, resourcefulness is of utmost importance in digital leadership. The ability to show verve, persistence, creativity and once again a resilient humility in learning a new digital process represents the highest of skill sets for a digital leader.
The digital experience is so personal and individual. While we often think of leadership as rallying a group in a direction, the digital leader does so by attending to each individual’s needs along the way. Much like the excellent teacher does. Certainly not a coincidence that the best digital leaders are likewise iconic teachers.
As with all leadership, knowing your people, knowing your stuff, and knowing yourself are integral. The ability to combine these qualities in our daily engagement with our people, and make mindful decisions with how to support the growth of our people doesn’t require doctoral level mastery of digital skills, but it does require these intangibles.