Davos17: why dynamic leadership is essential to successful digital transformation

As leaders converge in Davos, the call for responsive and responsible leadership should be met with a commitment to adopt the 5 core traits of the dynamic leadership model.
Written by Ray Wang, Contributor
Digital Darwinism Davos

Today's Leadership Models Fail To Address Responsive And Responsible Leadership

The World Economic Forum kicks off January 17th to 20th in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. As the global theme for the annual meeting, responsive and responsible leadership begins a lofty conversation about the qualities required to bring generations together, create inclusiveness in growth opportunities, and to bridge cultural and economic divides. With the global system challenged by a confluence of political, economic, societal, technological, environmental, and legislative forces, executives seek leadership models that reflect this responsive and responsible paradigm. Moreover, the impact of technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics on the future of work plays a key driving factor in the development of policies that address humanity in a digital age.

This macro pressure at the global scale impacts the business world from many fronts. In fact, the digital disruption organizations face from non-traditional competitors, emerging technologies, and new disruptive business models requires a different type of leadership to manage the pace of change required not only for survival, but also for cultural agility. Past models of leadership play a key role, yet the continual over and under emphasis of one type of leadership design and style no longer is relevant for the challenges ahead.

Dynamic Leadership Provides A Responsive And Responsible Framework For A World Of Digital Transformation

One solution is a dynamic leadership approach. By identifying the immutable core traits and modulating the balance in foundational attributes of leadership, executives can achieve a contextually right time approach. Immutable core traits must be mastered and cannot be neglected. Foundational attributes require more finesse and self-awareness of contextual relevance in balancing out responsive and responsible traits. This dynamic style of leadership allows a framework to balance out traits as needed to achieve the mission, goals, and objectives over a defined period of time.

5 core traits of leaders WEF Davos

Five immutable traits of great leaders

Integrity, inspiration, inclusiveness, authenticity, and transparency form the five immutable core traits of leadership. These immutable traits do not change with time or the business trends at hand. Great leaders hone and refine these traits as part of their development and incorporate these traits into their DNA.

Five Immutable Traits of Great Leaders

  1. Integrity. Leaders must have strong moral principles, demonstrate honesty, and uphold honor.
  2. Inspiration. Leaders must stimulate and draw folks towards ideas, concepts, and actions.
  3. Inclusiveness. Leaders must bring people together from different backgrounds and points of view to create equal opportunities.
  4. Authenticity. Leaders must reflect a genuineness in who they are and what they stand for.
  5. Transparency. Leaders must be accountable and provide clarity on decisions and actions

Seven Dimensions In The Art Of Leadership Require A Balance Of Fourteen Attributes

The art of leadership requires the balance and mastery of fourteen foundational attributes. Each of these 14 attributes on their own have often been used to simplify and describe traits of a great leader. For example, great generals have been known to be demanding. Leaders of freedom movements have been shown to be principled. However, other great leaders have won over folks by their compassion or have been known to be quite adaptive. As evident, this one dimensional approach to leadership often leads to imbalanced description of what it takes to succeed at that point of time and does not reflect the reality of the current or future environment.

A more balanced or Yin-Yang approach segments attributes into responsible and responsive dimensions that consider decision making, demeanor, goals and objectives, policy and actions, motivational approach, performance expectations, and execution style. Responsible attributes include principled, focused, accountable, decisive, composed, demanding, and collectivism. Meanwhile, the responsive attributes include adaptive, aware, empathetic, pensive passionate, compassionate, and individualism.

By taking a dynamic leadership approach, leaders can account for a more complex reality and attenuate an attribute as needed. These 7 dimensions of leadership include:

14 foundational attributes of leadership Davos

The art of leadership requires balancing fourteen attributes in seven dimensions

  1. Decision making. In the Decisive versus Pensive decision making process, are rapid and clear decisions more valued than a thoughtful methodology to decision making?
  2. Demeanor. For Composed versus Passionate demeanor, would a composed presence outweigh a passionate emotional manner?
  3. Goals and objectives. When thinking about Collective versus Individual goals and objectives, should a leader think about the larger group instead of the individual self-interest
  4. Policy and actions. In Principled versus Adaptive policy and actions, should leaders be lauded for staying the course or knowing when to make a shift?
  5. Motivational approach. Does a Demanding versus Compassionate motivational approach require leaders to push hard for more or will reaching out with more compassion result in better esprit de corps?
  6. Performance expectations. In Accountable versus Empathetic performance expectations, is a broad based policy and results driven style more important than a personalized approach to achievement?
  7. Execution style. In Focused versus Opportunistic Execution strategy, should we emphasize laser focus on a task or sentient situational awareness?

The Bottom Line: Digital Transformation Requires Dynamic Leadership For Success

As leaders converge at Davos, the call for responsive and responsible leadership will require a new way to approach the timeless topic of leadership. Instead of taking a classical binary or rigid approach, consider the 5 core traits and develop a balance of 14 foundational attributes as a guide to successful and sustainable dynamic leadership. Success at the leadership level will translate into much broader organizational values and capabilities.

Davos Responsible Responsive Leadership

Digital transformation requires a dynamic leadership model

Your POV

Where are you on your digital transformation journey? Do you have the right leadership framework? Take Constellation's 2017 Digital Transformation Survey and see how your organization stacks up against others pursuing digital transformation. Constellation will send you a copy of the results.

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