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As challenging as the recent past has been, it has provided a unique opportunity, due to necessity, for companies to innovate. One of the biggest challenges leaders are facing is ensuring that the organization and people are moving cohesively while navigating unchartered territory.

Steve Jobs once famously said, “Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra,” a perfect analogy of what a connected leader can achieve, compared to one whose team is playing out of step with each other.

Pawel Korzynski, a visiting fellow at Harvard University, noted that because all leaders will be working in virtual environments within a few years, the role of the traditional leader will be transformed to a ‘leading interweaver who coordinates and facilitates the collaboration of a variety of networks.’

A connected leader is one who is skilled at setting a tone of unity at both an intellectual level in terms of strategy, goals, metrics, as well as in terms of values, purpose, direction and a shared cultural agenda. They drive a culture of sharing, collaboration, teamwork and decision-making on both fronts.

Connected leadership moves away from a rigid hierarchical system based on set rules to a much more participative and collaborative structure.

What does the connected leader look like?

Express purpose and direction

Connected leaders understand the power of communication to influence and connect colleagues to the strategy. They share the organisational story and make the ‘bigger picture’  practical and relevant.

Connected leaders help people make sense of what they are doing and why it is important through deliberate dialogue and heart-centred engagement. This enables people to identify more strongly with the organisation and its role in the world and appreciate how they contribute to the overall purpose and direction of the business.

Authenticity and living the values

The leader is in tune with their own emotions and is able to manage them effectively so that their reactions aren’t disruptive to those around them. Their behaviour reflects their principles and they recruit and recognise people who hold themselves to similar standards in order to build a values-based culture.

Entrust others in decision making

Herminia Ibarra and Anne Scoular shared in Harvard Business Review that in the face of fast change, companies realize that leaders can’t be expected to have all the answers and autocratic leadership is no longer workable.

Connected leaders have a strong belief in the ability of others to do a great job and have confidence in their expertise, and abilities to make sense of situations and choose a path that they would support themselves.

Because they communicate goals so well, the clarity they provide make it easier for others to take effective decisions, even when they encounter novel situations.

They coach their team members to become great decision makers, giving them the confidence to lead in their own spaces, creating a positive cycle of reinforcement.

Multi-team collaboration and agility

Connected leaders are masters at fostering proactive cooperation between teams, especially those that interact along the end-to-end processes of the business, rewarding behaviour that is in the best interests of the business and its customers, rather than in the immediate interests of a particular team or business unit. This kind of leader gets the best from their team and enables cross-functional collaboration to drive results for the customer.

The connected leader is keen to learn, determined to stay in tune with the changing needs of the world, markets, customers’ needs and actively encourages this mindset among their entire team. The leader doesn’t settle on current wisdom, but is always agitating to improve systems, products and services and ways of working.

The leader is focused on discovering innovations that change the rules, creating space for others to dream and invent ways to attract and retain customers.

Leading change

The connected leader helps people embrace change, being aware that this can often be a challenging shift for people to make. In times of transformation, the leader helps people appreciate the need to work together to deliver a great customer experience while also inspiring individual moments of brilliance.

The connected leader’s fingerprints can be seen all over the business, they enable their people to learn, be flexible and grow within the vision set by the company’s purpose, direction and values.

Read more about how to create a connected organization so that you have alignment between your leadership and organizational structure.

At SuperLead, we are passionate about supporting the next generation of high impact leaders. Contact us today for coaching on your journey to being a connected leader. Email: info@superlead.co.za

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