Digital Leadership

Written by Robin Knowles, CEO, Digital Leaders

Moving your organisation to home working, has for many been an epic undertaking. We have seen a period of accelerated digital transformation and leaders need to be thinking digital first when motivating the individuals they lead. Digital transformation is all about your people and your culture and not the technology. So it’s particularly important to be thinking about the impact of lockdown on the four traditional areas of an individual team members motivation: purpose, learning, autonomy and social connection.

Individuals still need a sense of purpose in a role, this can be contributing to a meaningful outcome bigger than themselves and often one larger than the organisation they work for. 

During the lockdown our organisational and even whole sector’s sense of purpose has been under attack. We have focussed on survival ahead of purpose in the short term and as we unlock, it’s vital as leaders to acknowledge this and take the time to rethink our organisations place in our sector and society. You can be sure that your teams will also be asking themselves, is my organisation still in a place where what we are good at is what people need? Time thinking about this collectively with your team as a leader post lockdown is vital.

The importance of learning and developing skills in a role is an area where the lockdown may have created opportunity. Before the pandemic a lot of skills were acquired from colleagues longer in the job and also from those more senior. Six months of lockdown has transformed this relationship and your remote teams now know they need digital skills not available in your current organisation. This is a national challenge and has combined with an explosion of free training events online. As a leader encourage and support this opportunity to connect individuals to the knowledge available and needed by them and our organisations online.

Autonomy, that sense of control over one’s work is an important part of individual motivation and has been an unintended, but necessary part of lockdown. Our level of trust in our individuals has certainly risen and a plethora of digital tools now means we can coordinate disparate teams with less direct control. With autonomy levels in our organisations naturally high as we come out of lock-down, we need to leverage digital tools built to encourage collaboration and suppress any urge to reduce this strong motivator of individual performance.

Lastly, and perhaps the main victim of lockdown, has been social connection within our organisations. Individuals need a network, support group, mentors and sense of social belonging. Whether the watercooler moment, gossip or social events a great deal of this has been lost.

Our team members networks are now far more geographically local to them rather than with work colleagues. This might be good for the individual, but is not for the organisation. We need to leverage technology to build new “virtual cultures” that can survive and build support networks of value to individuals with a lot less face to face interaction to reinforce them.


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