The 3 Core Tenets To Effective Digital Leadership

Productive Profits Spark is a free newsletter created to help digital consultants reach their impact and revenue goals. In each Spark post, I’ll share frameworks from my own growth playbook that’s helped startups ranging in size from $800k to $50M+ grow.

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Leadership is evolving both in how we interact with others (human) and in how we facilitate those interactions (digital). 

The thing about the digital landscape is that it’s an accelerator for the good and negative characteristics of leaders. 

For example, if a leader was bad time management in the office, this issue will be exponentially worse online and be exposed. 

On the other hand, leaders who empower their teams in the office and understand how to leverage digital communication will shine and accelerate in their careers faster than those who don’t. 

The key to digital leadership is to create leverage

Leverage in communication, process, and drivers. 

Leveraged Communication 

Good digital leaders spend most of their day processing information and making informed decisions with their team. 

Most of this communication is written, some video (thanks Loom!) and comes regularly, flooding your inbox, unreads, and chats. 

Other communications are in form of meetings and if done correctly are used sparingly, however, are often abused and create Zoom zombies. 

The purpose of communication is to transfer information from one brain to another. 

That can be your brain to someone else’s or to a computer. 

The key is to compartmentalize these forms of communication into 3 buckets: 

1 – Touch and go forms of communication (making progress without having to meet) 

2- Real-time communication (calls or meetings) 

3- Central source of truth to reference important information that will be put to use at a later time (I call this your company’s Master Brain)

Your goal as a leader is to shorten the gap between information and action.

To do this digitally, at scale, remote and effectively you have to create horizontal and vertical lines of communication using the 3 forms of communication. 

Horizontal communication is cross-team, cross-department, and all hands communication that help you eliminate the leaches of digital teams: silos. 

Vertical communication is team-based, function-based, and project-based communication that eliminates redundancy and from having 17 people on your Zoom call with only 4 people engaged and the rest glossy-eyed and half asleep. 

By combining horizontal and vertical lines of communication with the 3 forms of communicating online, you will see 

1 – Clearer communication happening from you and within your teams (Hint: people love clarity in what they need to do)

2 – Less time being spent on useless meetings (half your calendar is being wasted right now)

3 – Give you the headspace to focus on more important actions… 

…like creating leverage with process and drivers.

the key to digital leadership is to create leverage

The first form of leverage is in communication. 

The second and third forms of leverage: process & drivers. 

As a leader, at the end of the day, once you have a clear direction and initiatives, you must foster and manage 2 keys to the company: the things people do, how they do them, and the people who do them. 

The Key To Results Is Process

In business, there are habits that drive the results you need to grow. These habits are another word for the process your team takes to deliver an outcome. 

You can have the best people in the world, but a bad process will dismantle progress. 

As a leader, you don’t have to come up with the process – you can create leverage with your team to create the best process that drives the results your team needs. You also have the option to buy process – either through a consultant or contractor to come in and build one ideal and custom fit for you. 

Once you have the process figured out, it’s up to your team to execute, which brings us to the second key: your people. 

Growth Is Determined By Your Drivers

You can decide how fast you want to grow by developing and fostering the right team.

In fast-growing companies, there are only 2 types of people: drivers and laggards. Clearly, the laggards won’t last long. 

Drivers, take initiative, collaborate with you on the vision, execute, deliver results and work on constant improvement. 

You as a leader must foster this and empower your drivers in order to create true leverage and direct the company to where it needs to be. 

There are 5 pillars of what makes a leader able to thrive in the fast-paced digital world…. 

Digital business moves fast. There’s no other way to put it. 

Running a digital team requires a special type of leadership characteristic that can maintain the integrity of the team and the flexibility required to adjust as you grow. 

I’ve coached CEOs and have condensed the required characteristics into 5 pillars of what I call Heroic Leadership. 

Heroic Leadership is the practice of disciplined: thought, communication, time, action, & growth. 

Why Heroic?

There is a difference between leaders who lead and leaders who inspire. 

It takes a heroic leader to do the latter. 

Heroic leadership begins with taking on and facing responsibility, never shying away from it. It comes with a dedication to the mission, the people involved in achieving the mission, and taking action on whatever path leads to the greatest good towards success. Heroic leaders firmly know they own the outcomes produced by themselves and their team, both positive and negative. Giving credit to the team when accomplishing feats and not blaming others when errors or mistakes happen.

Heroic leaders know that they can delegate any task in the company but can never delegate responsibility. 

There is wisdom in knowing the difference.

The 5 Pillars of Heroic Leadership 

As a Heroic leader, you must: 

1 – Be steady

-patient when going through growing pains

-keep the main thing the main thing

-be proactive on areas of improvement

2 – Set the stage

-understand the weight of your words and actions to the team

-take responsibility for how you show up

3 – Take informed execution 

-use data to make decisions and

-have trusted advisors to give you “sanity checks” prior to big decisions or pivots

4 – Fuel others

-know what the team needs and fuel them

-create and empower new leaders

-create leverage to delegate decision making (through empowerment)

5 – Facilitate movement 

-provide the process and vision and then get out of the way

-leverage communication

-create feedback loops to ensure the team is taking the right actions 

Becoming Heroic

Leadership is a journey. 

Becoming Heroic requires daily repetitions, and if you fail, get up and go back at it today. 

Each day is a new day and it’s up to your determination to honor the choice you made to become Heroic. 

It’s an honor to be a small part of your journey. 

Do Good Work, 

Raul

Know a Digital Founder that needs to read this? Consider sharing this Spark with them. You may be the catalyst that opens them up to a new way of operating their business and experiencing life. 

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