1. Will the Networked Society require a new type of leadership?

Will the Networked Society require a new type of leadership?

Leadership in the Networked Society

Thousands of books have been written about leadership and leaders, and many theories have been developed in the fields of management and psychology. To mention one, Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker stated that “management does things right; leadership does the right things.”

This post is an extrapolation of a previous post by my colleague Peter Linder, who discussed what type of talents will be required in the Networked Society. He mentioned the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) talents. In this post, I will discuss the type of leadership that will be needed in the Networked Society.

What type of leadership will be required to succeed in this new business world, created by the Networked Society? This society will see new market spaces, where cross-industry companies will compete. Because of its openness, its technology based on mobility, cloud and performing networks, because of globalization, free trade and capital movement; the Networked Society will transform and reshape businesses and industries.

So, what leadership and strategy playbook should executives and strategists use?

The competition and the customers have become unpredictable and will be even more so in the future. It will be hard for companies to keep a strong position and defend it for extended periods of time. It means that competitive advantages will no longer be possible to sustain. It also means that companies will have to review their strategies and portfolios, and start building new competitive advantages more often than ‘once a year’.
Leaders in the Networked Society need to constantly start new strategic initiatives. They should care less about market segmentation – because the borders between industries will be blurred – and focus more on the jobs-to-be-done (the Clayton Christensen concept) that are out there for customers.

I think that executives in the Networked Society should have at least the following skills:

– Innovation in their DNA. Have the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields and areas.
– A more customer-centric and less industry-bound view. Their methods for evaluating new business opportunities and their approach to innovation should be different.
– Ability to spark continuous change by building an agile organization that can support any new competitive advantage or any new strategic change without ‘pains’.
– A non-narcissistic approach, because leaders must be engaged in initiating questioning conversations in their organizations.
– Ability to make fast and right decisions instead of deliberations and/or consensus finding.
– Discovery-driven. Executives produce uncommon business ideas by scrutinizing common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers.
– Executives in the Networked Society don’t delegate creative work, they do it themselves. Not only do they feel responsible for facilitating the innovation process, but also for coming up with strategic innovations.
– A track record for innovations. Innovation will be a core activity in the Networked Society.

So, are you an executive of the Networked Society era?

Written by Sami Dob

Sami is Program Director, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, for the Ericsson Group worldwide. An engineer and economist, he is interested in innovative business solutions that make great social impact. Also an advocate of redefining the practice of capitalism, Sami believes that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play an important role in addressing global challenges in areas such as poverty, development, climate change and human rights.

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