Who Digitalizes the Leaders?

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven our digital interconnectedness to new heights. Yet the way we structure and organize our work is out of sync with this new normal. The individualistic, directive, top-down model of leadership is cracking. This is opening up for a major change of organizational mindset to one that is more distributed, collaborative, online, and in the cloud.


Two recent independent studies showed less than 10% of leaders worldwide see their organization as a network. Furthermore, research indicated that leaders go to on average of 1,7 people before they make an important decision. Often the only person they consult are themselves, and when they actually do talk to someone else, it is a person similar to them or one very close to them. This means they often seek confirmation, rather than real feedback. Down the line, this hierarchal approach to work robs the organization of any out-of-the-box thinking, innovation, but also productivity, agility and profit smart, collaborative working would bring.



It is in networks knowledge lives, trust is created, and work is done. 90% of leaders globally have never seen their organization as a network. It’s pretty scary when we know how connected the world has become and how organizations and workers need to work more distributed.


As this top-down leadership proved to be unsustainable during the recent pandemic crisis, researches, leaders and employees alike explore other ways of decision-making. Connecting different types of experts from different environments, departments or even organizations gives a more complex and thus realistic take on any issue. That collaborative stream can eventually save organizations millions simply by improving the quality of the decisions we make.


What makes a network good?

The current hypothesis is that leaders are good at managing information to make decisions and provide input on innovation and improvements. The question is what happens if leaders and employees systematically start to share unique knowledge with others. The connection between knowledge and value is pretty clear: by putting knowledge in motion, we create value. Our global network data shows this huge potential waiting to be released by those that embrace Network Leadership and the competitive advantages it creates. Every network comes with different roles, and each role can be used to organizations’ advantage or disadvantage. There are Integrators, people who connect two different teams: on the one side, it’s good they are there keeping teams together, but on the other, there’s a possibility they are actually blocking or slowing down the information flow.



The Centrals, central people in the network, are the ones many come to for information. They could be too central to make the work efficient, but could also used as the ones who will influence others and spread the desired behavior.



This means there’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to networks. Only by digging deeper for insights and analyzing all factors we can design leadership model that fulfills the potential of people and organization as a whole. When we talk about creating a more connected workforce, digitalization comes first to mind.


What is digitization really?

Digitalization is about using digital tools to form an agile and smart way of working, with better services internally and for customers, and ultimately better results. However, these results leaders crave for do not come with simply installing the new technology, but from with teaching people what this novelty could bring for them personally. In its essences digitalization should provide clear benefits for the individual, as much as it does eventually the organization. We’re talking about making their jobs easier, more successful, open to new knowledge and new people, and ultimately more fulfilling. Another important point is that digitalization should start with the leaders themselves, the ones who have built the silos, and often thrive by being on top of the hierarchy. They are often comfortable with a hierarchic structure because it is predictable and easy to lead. But on the other hand, it is the hierarchy that prevents information to flow easily, knowledge to be shared and teams to be truly innovative. If leaders are ordering digitalization projects, while refusing to give up the chain of command and their own seat at the top, we have bad news: those projects are doomed to fail.


Where to start?

The first step is always facing what is. Using data points to see how your organization really works means you are basing your work on facts, not on opinions or old ways of work. JOIN21 has a tool that does just that. Many leaders in both giants like Tenor and SMEs like Digital Norway said it has completely changed the way they see their staff and their processes and set them on a journey to adapt to the future way of working. If that isn’t worth exploring, we don’t know what is.