For those of us charged with the responsibility of developing future leaders, the future is now. We have a call to action to prepare our emerging talent to take on leadership positions at every level of our organizations and tackle new obstacles in the digital age.

These are 4 leadership obstacles of the digital age, that while not completely unique to today, are more pressing and difficult in today’s world then in the past.

1. Leading Different Generations

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z. Never has so many age cohorts shared the workforce. Leaders in the digital age are asked to lead groups that contain multiple demographics, and connect with each. This becomes especially difficult as todays leaders are often tasked with leading those older than themselves.

The Future Leader connects the generations by understanding each cohort’s characteristics with a plan to best lead each. Generational traits do not apply directly to the individual, but a leader who is sensitive to generational issues, can identify potential pitfalls, and connect with team members of different ages.

2. Leading in Disruptive Environments

10 years ago, yellow cab was not concerned with the rise of the app market but they should have been. New technology creates new business models and new business models drive old models out of business. Doing the same things incrementally better is not good enough in the digital age.

The Future Leader understands the disruptive nature of today’s world and embraces innovation to become a disruptor themselves; a disruptor does not accept the status quo and instead begs to question “is there a better way to do this?”

3. Inspiring Authentically

One of the biggest challenges leaders face in the digital age is not technology related but very human. Digital leaders need to authentically inspire team members to create buy-in and engagement. As technology further connects teams, screens can also create barriers that inhibit true personal connection.

The Future Leader leads with transparency, integrity, and with a strategy for overcoming technological barriers, to connect with team members in an authentic way.

4. Keeping up with Change

Leaders in the digital age inhabit what has been coined “The Age of Accelerations”. Change is inevitable and organizational change must take place exponentially faster than 50 years ago. When new technology transforms entire industries, leaders must lead their organization to transform as well.

The Future Leader recognizes innovation and disruption, and authentically inspires across the generations to enact organizational transformation. That is the mark of a Future Leader, they are a Transformational Leader.

Obstacles to Opportunities

While we call these obstacles, I’m sure that you notice when addressed these ‘obstacles’ present opportunities for leaders to successfully drive performance and transformation in the digital age.

To read more about how leadership development is changing, and how to prepare leaders for the digital age, read Future Leadership Development: Transforming Leaders to Excel in the digital Age… and Beyond. This eBook discusses the changes that leadership development must address to prepare leaders for the digital age, and how we approach future leadership development.

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