Five behaviours of a Digital Leader under lockdown

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Written by Robin Knowles, CEO, Digital Leaders

Back on 2 January and in what now feels like a different time, I started 2020 by writing a blog called Four Behaviours of Digital Leaders. The intervening 19 weeks since the start of the year has seen a 100 year storm hit us, the impact and tragedy of which is unfolding around us. So, in this new normal I wanted to revisit the behaviours I wrote about back at New Year: act; promote; share and learn and to think about their relevance. 

Moving your organisation to home working, has for many been an epic undertaking. Some have taken the difficult action to reduce their team size, many have used the furlough scheme to protect their people, but all leaders will be trying to reimagine their organisations’ future. 

Act is the behaviour it has been impossible to avoid. Digital Leadership and taking action has been about standing up, giving air cover to those delivering the change and empowering our individuals and teams to act, take risks and experiment. From local authorities, where we have seen all hands to the pump and where leaders have moved to front line roles; or in the NHS where senior clinicians have joined nursing teams, we have witnessed this leadership in action. 

We have also seen a government of the right implement policies a far left government would have been proud to imagine and we have seen individual ministers put their whole career on the line to give others the permission to accelerate, act and change systems that were getting in the way. We can all imagine how big these moments of leadership have been. 

My second behaviour was to Promote. Our own Digital Leaders 100, which promotes great leadership, was compiled  pre-coronavirus and will be announced on 1st June. However, I am excited to say that this year’s exemplar category will be for “Coronavirus Innovation”. I hope we can highlight just ten of the amazing acts of digital leadership we have seen so far from across the public, non-profit and private sectors. 

The third behaviour: to Share feels so important right now. All digital leaders are well placed to share their knowledge and skills with others who may need it for the first time as they lead during lockdown and transform to a digital organisation. Connecting that need with the supply is something that needs fixing for sure and we at the Digital Leaders programme are setting up new ways of linking people regularly as they get going. 

The Digital Leaders Lounge that allows groups of up to 100 people to connect twice a week is one; and at a bigger scale we have brought together over 150 experts on all aspects of digital transformation and leadership to share their knowledge for free over two weeks in early June. There is no doubt about the demand. We have seen 15,000 sessions booked already in the first 10 days since it was announced, but there are still plenty more free places to book before the two weeks begin 8-19 June 

Learn, the final of my four behaviours is something we all have time for under lockdown and personal learning for all of us now seems important. For many this is a crash course in digital transformation, but there are a lot of resources out there and like our own here at Digital Leaders, so many of them are free and being made free for the current period by many who would normally charge. 

So the four behaviours hold good from my perspective , but I need to add a fifth that has become very important under lockdown and that is being empathetic. 

Leaders need to manage the mental well being of their people under lockdown. No teams can be expected to perform as they did before. All of our personal circumstances are different and only through feeling empathy can you give your teams permission to cope as their personal circumstances require. 

We see this impact on our colleagues daily, as we peer into their homes on Zoom or Teams calls. With the veneer of the equality provided by our workplaces removed, we need to lead with empathy, understanding and calm judgement.

So, if Digital Leaders can help you then please get in touch and do please let others know we are here for them and a free resource they can use.

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