digital leadership

Digital Leadership: Are you the hero of your story…

A short essay about approaching digital leadership & modern mindset in uncertain times.

Don’t you sometimes ask yourself if your whole life is a big movie scene like in ‘The Truman Show’ where the spotlight is exclusively directed at you and in the end you are the savior of the world and finally get the beautiful girl?

Unfortunately, of course, we all know that this is just Hollywood and one rarely finds these stories in real life. But what discourages you to live your life as if you are the hero and your life is part of something bigger?

A successful entrepreneur and good friend of mine once gave me some food for thought which, especially in rough times like these we are facing right now, can help you to reflect on being a hero. He said: “Imagine in a far away future your children or grandchildren would ask you about how you passed the time during the Covid-19 pandemic. Times in which many parts of our lives were uncertain and challenging. And you would answer: “I watched Netflix-series about eight hours per day, drank too much alcohol and gained ten pounds of body weight.“ By now you know that you are not the hero of your story but just a background artist. When I heard this story for the first time, I swore to myself I would never be that dad/ or grandpa who would answer his children/ grandchildren like this.

Hence, I sat down and reflected on how I could make a virtue out of necessity.

Purpose — What is your project?

I asked myself what that project was I have always wanted to start but forever had excuses not to like “currently I don’t have enough time for that“ or “I will postpone it to next year“ etc. My project was to learn a new programming language in-depth. So what is your project which you consistently postpone and make excuses for not starting?

To start your mind process here are some examples:

  • train for a half-/marathon
  • learn a new language
  • ramp up a website or write a book

Especially in times like these today in which many people can’t follow their daily routines purpose can motivate and give structure. Maybe right now is a historical chance to start with this one thing which will change your life forever. Don’t hesitate, just do it!

Always keep in mind: Investing in yourself is by far the best invest you can ever make. So it’s time to start, isn’t it?

Focus — It’s for the love of the game

During my time as a semi-pro athlete I had the chance to meet and work with world class professionals. I once asked a team mate who also become a good friend of mine how he could get so damn successful in sports even though he was overweight and too short? He answered me: “I’ve always lived for the sport. I worked harder than others, never gave up or quit.“ I wasn’t really happy with his answer, because this was already obvious to me, so I dug deeper: “But what is your source of energy to overcome all these obstacles and get up again after every knock down?“

Quite recently I fully understood the power of his answer back then. He said:

“It is all about the love for the game. I just love what I am doing — the hard workouts, the huddle with the team, entering of playing field. This love keeps me going. This is my source of energy.“

I personally learned so much just from this short phrase. You can put it down to a simple rule of thumb:

Love what you are doing’ or ‘Just do things you love‘. Sooner or later success will hit and it will hit hard.

Now ask yourself, what are you passionate about, where are your hidden talents which want to unleash? The best timing to start this journey is right now.

Digital leadership & the way of approaching things: necessity is the mother of invention

People tend to consistently fall back into old patterns. Instead of making a virtue out of necessity and pioneering new ways of approaching things we often tend to switch on the complaining mode.

An example:

Due to Covid-19 a sports club suffers a big loss because revenues have dropped as the regular season is cancelled. Some clubs see themselves facing ghost games and financial bankruptcy. Now, the decision makers old-timey are thinking about cost cutting programs or a correction of their budget plannings. Don’t get me wrong, this can definitely make sense, but why not think outside the box?! In times of Twitch and YouTube it’s worth thinking a bit more digital, don’t you think so too? Why not stream all the games of the amateur divisions live on YouTube or Twitch and charge a small fee? The technical equipment and needed manpower are negligible. But why just stream games? Why not extend the offer and show pre-season practice like many Amazon or Netflix series already do in order to extend your club’s coverage. You are skeptical about that idea?

Some food for thoughts: Who would have thought 6–7 years ago that some teenage girls would make a fortune by presenting make-up tutorials on YouTube? Don’t underestimate the potential power of new trends and mass movements.

Prototyping or what you can learn from Gyro Gearloose digital leadership

Beside the fact that many inventions of Gyro Gearloose didn’t work properly or even got Donald Duck and Gyro deep into trouble he always operated with a pretty smart principle of product development. One of the most important ones was:

Prototyping (fundamental principal of digital leadership).

A simple example to show what prototyping in general is all about and why it can help you to be more successful in executing tasks or projects:

Your job is to find out which actions are the most effective ones to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic in your country. Conventional approaches were to benchmark what other countries had already initiated and to just copy them without really knowing if these actions would work in your specific environment. A very effective alternative would be to prototype 15–20 potentially good actions in 15–20 representative regions. We live in an uncertain environment and we all unfortunately do not know which of all the potential measures will bring the expected results. So just test the majority of them in a fairly short timeframe of about 2–3 weeks and monitor them with qualitative and quantitative KPIs. You will generate a lot of data which data experts can transform into a source of valuable information. This is a data-driven decision making process at its best and the government can now take these insights as a solid base when evaluating their next steps.

To sum this up, in a very short period of time prototyping will help you to gain valuable insights in uncertain times if you are on the right track with your hypothesis. And remember: If it doesn’t work, dump it — it’s just a prototype.

I honestly hope I was able give you an impulse to think about digital leadership. In these troubling times try to also see the chance for you to grow. Be an open-minded thinker and use your time wisely to make the world we all live in just a bit better.