Leadership development redefined in a digital world

Elisa Vincent, VP of Global Talent Enablement, Skillsoft, shares key insights into what it takes to be a successful business leader today.
By: | September 21, 2021

With the pandemic having brought forth rapid organisational disruption, many key workplace functions are being redefined, including leadership.

Leadership today, said Elisa Vincent, VP of Global Talent Enablement, Skillsoft, is about leading ecosystems of interconnected functional and cultural networks that require attention, focus and nourishment to survive.

Writing in Skillsoft’s What’s Next? A Look Ahead at Leadership Development E-book, she added, “Leaders must have an acute focus on motivating, engaging and inspiring individuals and teams. They must enable agility, build resilience and drive productivity, while navigating increasingly complex and changing organisational structures, markets and stakeholder groups.”

Vincent also highlighted how there is now a renewed focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, as well as enabling individual and organisational growth through cultural and systemic transformation.

“As a result, leadership today is about leading ecosystems of interconnected functional and cultural networks that require equal attention, focus and nourishment to survive.”

Moving ahead, she urged leaders to acknowledge that they are not just responsible for their teams and bottom-line results. Instead, leaders are part of a larger global mechanism that is rapidly changing, are part of an ever-evolving network of teams, and are responsible for outcomes with increased visibility and focus on both what they deliver and how they deliver it.

Cultivating a leadership mindset

To be successful ecosystem leaders, leaders also need to acquire what Vincent describes as “4-A competencies”:

Awareness: The ability to self-assess, seek feedback, reflect, and adopt new behaviours consistently. This competency requires a growth mindset, a curiosity for continuous learning and improvement, and a willingness to identify and eliminate bias.

Agility: This competency is the ability to determine when to pivot and when to persevere. Leaders must align, equip, and sustain change positively for their teams. Agility requires personal resilience and a flexible leadership style based on the needs in a particular moment.

Authenticity: Being authentic is the ability to inspire inclusively with emotional intelligence and strategic transparency. This competency requires courage, a strong sense of purpose, and vulnerability. Authentic leaders engage and inspire others with integrity, intention, and a shared purpose.

Accountability: This is the ability to hold oneself answerable first. Leadership accountability requires leaders to become role models and provide a healthy sense of ownership in ways that empower others to do the same. They welcome and celebrate victories and failures and enable a growth mindset for their teams

Looking ahead, Vincent also predicts that digital learning, instead of eliminating the human element of learning, will be used as a key tool to enhance and evolve experiences. “We are all working and learning online using digital tools to communicate, coach, manage projects, track progress, strategically plan and learn – all day, every day,” she explained. “Moving forward, learning in digital contexts will allow us to apply leadership competencies in real-time.”

Through machine learning and artificial intelligence for instance, organisations can explore new worlds, new situations and new ways of doing things that will bolster awareness and the ability to learn while leading busy lives.

Victor continued, “We’re learning in the flow of work each day, and digital learning is compatible with where we work and how we work. It allows us to upskill and reskill in an effective and time-sensitive way, and it will continue to be a great enabler of leadership development in the years to come.”

However, she was quick to point out that speed and access should not come at the expense of quality and value. “Leadership development experiences such as 360 feedback, coaching, mentoring and teamwork will always prove invaluable in leadership development and will be key to unlocking human potential,” Victor concluded.