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Relational Intelligence at Work

Leading in the Digital Age

Leading in the Digital Age

Steve Cockram

on February 20, 2024

Hey, it's Steve Cockram here.

Welcome to the Relational Intelligence at Work newsletter where every Tuesday you’ll receive an email directly to your inbox from either Jeremie or myself.

This newsletter aims to support you on your personal growth journey, and to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to excel as a leader.

For today’s message, I want to share a story that brilliantly explains the power and art of effective collaboration.

Let’s dive in…

Embrace New Opportunities

As we complete the transition to the digital world, staying relevant, connected and productive as a leader will be a constant challenge…

Every technological revolution in history changed the world of work and with it the skills that leaders needed to succeed in the new reality.

For anyone born before 1990 the world of work is sadly not the one we were trained for! In Harry Potter speak I am at best a half-blood, I will never be a digital native or pure-blood like my children.

Some leaders bury their heads in the sand and hope the digital revolution won’t affect them too much, others get angry and out of fear try to resist the change.

History shows us that technology can never be uninvented, we have to boldly embrace the entrepreneurial opportunities of the new world and learn how to lead in a terrain very different from the one we grew up in or the new world will pass us by.

When Jeremie and I started GiANT 10 years ago we spent months interviewing as many leaders as we could find and simply asked them what were the 5  biggest challenges they were currently facing.

The summary of the results is represented in the visual tool you see above. We have spent the last 10 years building tools to help leaders rise to these new challenges.

Our conclusion is that leaders in the digital world don’t need a bigger library, they simply need a better visual toolkit.

Let’s have a look in more detail at each of the 5 challenges ….


1. Living with a healthy work-life balance in a 365 24/7 digital world

Staying physically, emotionally and mentally fit in a world where work never ends is a massive challenge.

The industrial world had clear boundaries between work, home, rest and leisure because people had to go to a physical building to do the work. 

I see many leaders trying to work an industrial day and a digital day. They do their classic 8-6pm work day and then spend their evenings and weekends working on their computers wherever they are. This is a recipe for disaster!!

To stay mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy you have to establish boundaries and schedule time in your day to rest, recharge, and connect with key relationships.

We wrote a book called The 5 Gears to help address this challenge in more detail.

2. Leading through influence 

The industrial world was very hierarchical, you pretty much did what you were told by your boss.

If you stayed in the business long enough you could progress up the food chain and eventually you would get your turn to tell people what to do!

Leading in the digital world could not be more different, company structures have been flattened, and the digital natives expect the ability to influence decisions from day one!

Where once we were bosses, now we are expected to be mentors and coaches. Relational intelligence is essential, you have to be able to relate to those you lead and create environments where they get to bring their best to the table.

Leading through influence is a massive challenge for those who have always relied on positional power or titles.

In the digital world, but if you are having to force through your decisions then you’ve already started to undermine your influence.

3. With the saturation of content, leaders must become relevant by using visual, interactive tools that have immediate practical application.

The industrial world was very word and book-based, learning happened in a classroom and content had to be memorized and regurgitated in exams to prove comprehension.

Communication in the digital world has to be visual, interactive and have immediate application.

If the learning doesn’t happen immediately then the tsunami of new information awaiting people when they turn on their phones and laptops will overwhelm them.

If you think writing long company emails guarantees effective communication then you will have to think again.

Communication needs to be visual, and engaging, with clear practical next steps!

4. The digital world is incredibly complex, no one leader, whatever their IQ, will ever have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to solve problems alone.

Leaders must now use their influence to build agile collaborative teams that harness the complimentary superpowers of each team member. 

In the industrial world, you could recruit highly talented individuals and sell their brain power by the hour.

They didn’t need to be relationally intelligent and most of them weren’t! 

As AI takes on more of the historic IQ roles, processing data at unimaginable speeds, the ability to establish, develop and maintain relationships inside and outside your organization will increasingly become the primary currency of a leader's wealth and influence. 

The most successful leaders will be skilled at creating a team culture where every Voice around their table is truly heard, valued and appreciated.

Where complimentary superpowers can be deployed to solve complex challenges no individual ever could. The digital age is the relational age and leaders will need a visual toolkit to help them!

5. Technology has led to more digitally connected, decentralized teams.

Some teams come together to bid for work, others to complete specific short-term projects, it’s perfectly possible to work on long-term projects without ever physically meeting your teammates. 

Leaders In the industrial age could take the team out for lunch on Friday and apologize if things had gotten a little heated during the week!

When you can't meet face-to-face, a leader's level of intentionality, self-awareness, and relational intelligence has to be significantly higher.

More care needs to be taken in communication, particularly if you are seeking to bring challenge.

To win in the digital world leaders will have to be intentional in every area of their lives.

They need strategies to stay physically, emotionally and mentally healthy.

They will need to grow self-awareness so that they are able to lead through influence, communicate effectively and build world-class teams.

The challenges are enormous, but the opportunities are even bigger.


That's all for today's message. I hope you enjoyed!

Until next time,

Cheers from London!

P.S.

In theory, we've never been more connected in a digital world today.

Yet, in a strange paradox, we've never been more disconnected.

The Communication Code will give you the tools and resources to rekindle and strengthen your relationships.

Grab your copy below:

The Communication Code Book

Relational Intelligence is the science of highly-functional relationships (HFRs). Learn how to navigate and manage your interactions with others effectively.

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