Bright Minds leading through actions and connections
In every issue, we profile one or more members in the ConnectMinds network; highlighting key aspects of their work and the contributions and impact they make.
In this issue, as we are kicking off a series focusing on different aspects of leadership, I have decided to not profile one bright mind. Instead, I have attempted to sum up some characteristics and traits shared by many of our members. These are some of my overarching observations from over a decade of following, observing, admiring and challenging all the professionals in our network in an attempt to see if there is anything that - despite their very different backgrounds - binds their approach together. ConnectMinds members are those who make the visions for digital happen and make the strategies for digital come to life. As such, they have themselves become leaders of sorts, albeit not through formal titles or channels, nor through a spot on the existing org chart becoming vacant or by senior leaders appointing/elevating them through the ranks. They have been leading change on and from the ground.
ConnectMinds members come from all walks of life and have all manner of professional backgrounds, and have typically grown into their roles through being managers of key parts of the ever-sprawling digital ecosystems; through realising that something needs to be done and there is a new and better way of doing it, but: "no-one else seems to volunteer to do it - so I will do it".
Their approach is built on business acumen and experience. Built on an ability to filter out the hype and noise; on a combination of agile people management skills, alliance building and stakeholder management. And on translating the multitude of technical, operational and jargon languages that exist in an organisation so stakeholders can understand each other and work together. And the list of other informal, but effective approaches could go on for a while...
Arriving at the notion of ”being a leader” has required a mental journey for - and still sits uncomfortably with - some of our members. Many have made things happen for and on behalf of established business leaders, but through their vast experience and organisational knowledge, and through the visibility of some of their achievement, they have become leaders in their own right. They typically have a lot of goodwill in most pockets of the organisation - as they have probably helped everyone in meaningful ways at least once, but their earned clout and gravitas rarely translates into a clearly defined and formalised senior positioning. They make things happen (and more things than ever before) through what might be called soft power diplomacy in the enterprise.
One of the big questions we ask in the network is whether this modus operandi is indeed the right one going forward. It has served people well in the early years of informally managing chaos, but is it time for a change?
A few members have tried out new approaches - and we will look at these in upcoming issues. Leadership in the organisation of the digital age.
Further reading on Leadership
Hierarchy Is Not the Problem…It’s the Power Dynamics by Richard D. Bartlett
Read more from our Leadership Series
Power Negotiation by Jonathan Lewis