Newnormal leadership: looking for depth in the shallows

I learned a valuable lesson this evening, as I participated to the SM Secrets event of I thought I would learn about how to improve my impact on the internet through Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook. Instead I got lost. 6 Digital natives in a row talked about how they managed their virtual presence. Their basic messages were open doors: “choose your focus”, “be transparent”, “enable the community instead of trying to lead it,” “integrate everything”. The rest, the real tips & tricks were explained in a language I didn’t understand. They proved that they find their way in the 27.000.000 tweets per day, know how to treat their friends on Facebook or create interaction on LinkedIn. They proved that they know how to make business out of their social media addiction. They feel at home in the shallows as Nicolass Carr has framed it. But I didn’t get an inch closer to their world and felt more digital immigrant than ever before.

The contrast couldn’t be greater with the conversation I had this afternoon with Luc Bouckaert and Jonachan Eynikel of the SPES Forum, located in the old Jezuit school in Heverlee. SPES organizes seminars, conferences, activities to promote spirituality in business setting. Spirituality is about finding ground in one’s own self and looking for answers on fundamental questions as ‘what is my purpose?’ Spirituality is about standing still, reflection, becoming aware and understanding fundamental dynamics. Typically more experienced, elder people are open for this path. They have come to realize that not all answers in life can be answered by Google. They look for depth.

Both worlds together brought me back to the challenge of the NewNormal leader. How to create sustainable meaning and identity in a dissolving material world? How to lead the facebook kids? They are not concerned by “taking the lead” or by loyalty to institutes or structures. They foster communities. They pass information, give advice, help, enable contacts, build through collaboration. What happens when these young talents invade the corporate world? How will our old school leaders of the more established organisations of today win their trust and commitment? How to lead through internet and social media? How to work together cross borders, cross time zones, cross organisations, cross work-life?

How to lead for depth in the shallows?

Any Comment?


About Koen Marichal

Director Future Leadership Initiative at Antwerp Management School
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