As we enter a new era for IT organizations, our next generation of leaders will have to embrace the idea of emotionally aware leadership.
When your team communicates and demonstrates their trust in you—especially when they don't agree with you—it will be a clear sign that you're striking the right balance. The key is that you will not have blind obedience. Instead, your team will be comfortable enough to tell you to your face that they do not agree with your decision, but that they will stand by you. That kind of trust and respect is only born out of a belief that you have their interests and the best interests of the organization at heart. It comes from a belief that they've been heard and that they are respected. If instead you're getting blind obedience, you are either running a cult or your team has just resigned themselves to their fate.
On the surface, it may feel that being an emotionally aware leader is the antithesis of what the business world says it wants in our leaders. But the truth is that being emotionally aware, available and vulnerable actually requires a tremendous amount of strength. You must believe enough in yourself that you are willing to be questioned by your team. You must be confident enough in your decisions to have them challenged. You must be brave enough to hear about your own shortcomings. This type of leadership, in fact, requires so much strength and character that many leaders don't possess it.
As we enter this new era of IT, we need a new breed of leaders. We need modern-day Digital Renaissance Men and Women to step forward and lead us through this disruptive and tumultuous time. We need you to have a true heart for service. We need you to be in constant state of learning. We need you to be willing to question everything. We need you to be a great connector of ideas, cultures and people. And we need you to be emotionally aware and available so that you can expertly lead your team in times of fear and great change.
It’s a lot to ask of you. But it's also a tremendous opportunity to have an impact and to participate in one of the greatest times in our industry.
About the Author
Charles Araujo is a recovering consultant and accidental author of the book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. He is an internationally recognized authority on IT Leadership and liberally shares his message of hope about the future of IT and what it means for all of us. He is the founder and CEO of the IT Transformation Institute and serves on the boards of itSMF USA and the Executive Next Practices Institute. You can follow him at @charlesaraujo.
Editor's note: This is the final installment of a six-part article series titled "What It Means to be a Digital Renaissance Man." To read the fifth installment, "Great IT Leaders Must Be Great Connectors," click here.