Promoting the augmented leader

Analogous to what augmented reality is to reality, the augmented leader will soon be with us. It is not a super human hero with chips installed in his brain. It is you and me, if we are able to augment ourselves.

The augmented leader lives in a world of incredible tools (some of them 2.0 but also many others like mobile platforms, neurosciences, geolocalization, data management) and sees his capabilities enhanced to a point where it has currently become unmanageable. We will have to learn again how to manage. But to manage what and to manage how? A few examples will help make the point.

  • Today infobesity makes us look like those champions of bodybuilding, over equipped with muscle all over their body and unable to really use them. We handle too much information; we are unable to master the flow of them because they are indeed all relevant (irrelevant information is easy to handle: dustbin). We don’t look for needles in haystacks anymore, we strive to make sense out of those packs of needles (i.e. interesting and relevant information) we get everyday. We need to loose muscle in order to be human again. We need to accept not to even see some information. A hard issue in a world were information ownership was synonymous with power for centuries.
  • Today’s time management stresses us, makes us also stressing the others, 24*7*365, thanks to Blackberries and an often largely exaggerated sense of urgency. We need to control our time back.
  • Today we know that Big Data is coming soon, we know that we will need help to handle it, to make an intelligent use of it, but we are not even aware of what we really want out of it. We need to strategize data, to conceptualize what to do with it.
  • Today we are so skewed toward enhancing shareholder’s value that we sometimes forget our deep ethical values and our societal responsibilities. We need absolutely to reinvent trust, ethics and respect. We need also to reinvent capitalism, at all level including the one of our daily work.

Many of us believe that the leader of today can still be a Renaissance man, mastering most of the required knowledge and leading others towards a bright future. But it is obvious that we master less and less, even in our bodybuilding shape. It is also obvious that few of us have a clear understanding of what a bright future could mean. We don’t need to master everything; we need to accept that our teams, our networks and many tools can actually augment us without us controlling them. It is the same logic as to use Apps on our tablets, we don’t know how they work but we are glad to use them. But accepting this means we have to give up our earlier vision of omniscience and superior skills; we are not superheros.

The Augmented Leader will therefore have a few characteristics. He will use his skills, the tools he has access to, his lean muscles, his reinvented wisdom and his rediscovered modesty to:

  • Manage and develop individuals and teams in a world of scarce talents (along high unemployment and explosive social situations!), of swarm work, of dispersed teams, of individuals equipped with their own personal brand to an extent unknown until today outside of the “People” sphere.
  • Manage himself and his own stress in a world requiring time and trust to be managed
  • Manage not only the environment footprint of his/her unit or corporation but also the social footprint, the ethical footprint and the commercial footprint in a world where transparency and consumer’s power are threatening to have Jasmine flowers bloom all over the place (Jasmine revolution is not only for Tunisia).
  • Manage the over abundance of information by selecting what he is really interested in without taking all what is interesting but also at the same time accepting serendipity and remaining curious and open to the world.
  • Live in a permanent ß culture where all projects and changes are tentative by nature and will change sooner than expected.

The Augmented Leader will have to have a deep and benevolent understanding of the world and of others. He will somehow have to be like Buddha, not an easy task but also not one reserved to gods .

2.0 tools will help him because they allow him to be connected and technically enhanced but he will only succeed in being augmented if he uses them and is not their victim.

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