Without any doubt, the Web leads to dramatic changes in how we will organize the institutions of our society and lead in politics, business and administration. Not only the current debates on Wikileaks or Stuttgart 21 in Germany show that we urgently have to enter into a new discourse. We have to identify and to understand the new playgrounds of democracy and freedom and to agree on new rules for the game.
Bertelsmann Stiftung in Gütersloh – one of Germany’s leading think tanks – has currently published a study by Grady McGonagill and Tina Doerffer on how leadership is influenced by the web. Here are some of their conclusions:
The evolving Web is the source of new technologies that are perhaps the most tangible of many changes that are transforming society—and organizations within all sectors—in ways unforeseen and without precedent. The world is becoming more complex, more interdependent, and less predictable. But the new technologies are only the surface manifestation of a deeper shift, one that is more about culture, as familiar norms are challenged to absorb practices of transparency, collaboration, and openness that emerged in the geek worlds of open software and have become second nature to the Millennials who grew up digital. This shift will challenge organizations and those who exercise leadership within them to understand the new conditions and make accommodations that are appropriate to the context.
Obviously a lot of what we have learned about leadership in the past is not applicable in the new web-driven world order. The times of closed circles “owning” leadership and controlling their organizations seem to vanish into thin air and new paradigms like transparency, consensus and fiduciary responsibility seem to emerge.
These are not be easy times to be in formal positions of management and leadership. Guardians of organizations at all levels face tough choices about how much to insulate and protect their institutions from the threats to privacy and security posed by the Web, while at the same time striving to benefit from the Web‘s power to open access to new ideas and modes of organizing. More basically, organizations of all kinds face challenges to their viability as they strive to keep pace with the agility and cost advantages of Web-enabled networks and free agents. Creative disruption may become the new status quo.
The emergence and construction of new leadership paradigms and methods will be one of the most fascinating challenges we will face in society, business and – of cause – in science and education.
Download the study here at Bertelsmann Stiftung (pdf)