Youthism, Big Data … 5 misconceptions about leadership in the digital age
Leadership, this ability to mobilize energies around common action, is the lever of digital transformation for 4 out of 5 decision-makers, recently surveyed by Deloitte.
So why is so little effort being made in this direction? Here is an attempt to explain digital leadership to put an end to 5 clichés:
1- Everything will be settled when the millennials are in charge
So here we are saved. You just have to wait for the digital natives to take power for the transformation to take place. A shadow Comex made up of less than 35 years old as at Accor of course goes in the right direction.
But some companies are already coming back from this exacerbated youthism in their recruitment: digital leadership is also a question of vision, frugality, capacity for commitment. In case age has nothing to do with it, be careful not to part with your digital migrants too quickly.
2 – The exemplary nature of the boss will lead the rest of the company
It is difficult to go against this premise, especially since digital is above all “performative”: there are those who talk about it and those who do it.
The exemplarity makes sense to fertilize the company. A simple glance at the Twitter accounts of young workers or pre-teens can still make our CAC 40 bosses blush. But the immediate correlation between digital leadership and the number of followers is still largely to be proven.
The right distance and the ability to reflect on digital tools can be a better lever. The success of the buyer of Camif, Emery Jacquillat This can be explained in part because he was able to create envy rather than fear to digitize the company.
3- Always staying connected is a decisive asset
“Technology is there to improve your life, not to get in between you and your life” (Randi Zuckerberg). The cognitive overload of digital tools weakens concentration. Our firm supports CDOs, IT decision-makers under 30 on the verge of burnout. Beyond these extreme cases, the pressure of immediacy and infobesity blur the benchmarks. The “long time” is essential for our brain, which is nowhere near as good at multi-tasking. Disconnecting paradoxically allows you to reconnect better and gain peace of mind.
4 – Thanks to Big Data, no need for leadership anymore: the algorithm will take control
The redistribution of roles between machines and talents is accelerating. Regarding the volume of data, variety, speed of analysis (…), the machine has already won. But modeling and algorithm are ultimately not challenged enough by our decision-makers. KPIs and data visualization are the law. Sharing data analysis techniques promote decompartmentalization in the company and better still marketing permission when they are co-constructed with customers (cf. La Poste’s DataLab or FING’s MesInfos project). If the data in the hands of a handful of experts and “proprietary” software makers takes precedence over the entrepreneurial decision, expect a dilution of responsibilities, or even a bad remake of minority report.
5 – Competence and agile methods will replace authority
Leadership based solely on digital competence is a risk-taking, quite simply because its obsolescence is already programmed. More than certifications or diplomas, interdisciplinarity, self-learning, and managerial elasticity allow an essential step back in the face of the digital revolution: there is no pre-established model in the face of acceleration and disruptions, but rather a process and above all a state of mind. Transformation is difficult if not impossible when methods or expertise become a finality rather than a way.
For many still, performance and “digital” posture are the keys to this transformation: how can we not be fascinated by the leadership of Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla and Space X. His level of requirement allows him to push back limits like no one. But his managerial methods question. From the top of his 23 years the white knight of data, Paul Duhan is almost more inspiring for its values on the common good and its quest for meaning. For him, “the algorithm is not everything”: when you were born on the right side of the fence, in the right part of the world, made a good education, you have in fact already won the lottery. So why set up a start-up or digitize the business, if it’s just to earn more money?