The DIGITAL FRONTIER- Leading from the trenches

Photo by Marcos Pena Jr

When in 2020 Companies and individuals had to rapidly adapt and adopt new technologies and new styles of communication and working; it brought focus to and the need for brands to be online.

Very few could even have prepared for this massive transition and shift in the work-life sphere across the board and across countries. A shift that was perhaps the most radical and rapid ever since World War II but All of us have been seeing shifts over the past few decades in a manner that was never in our faces. But now thanks to that ‘Digital Transformation’ that companies and individuals have been undergoing and will have to adapt to if they haven’t already shifts are constant and can escalate rapidly either downhill or uphill if we do not flow with it.

Most were caught on the back foot and it’s important, I feel, to reveal here why that had happened from my observations.

– Was it the lack of preparation, the ability to stay consistent and persistent that become solid foundations that can then weather any storm?

– Was it the lack of Awareness- about what the true purpose of the business/brand is and where it needs to be? And I am not talking about ‘purpose’ being a disingenuous mechanism at play merely to attract customers. 

– Was it the lack of a solid understanding of what the business needs both internally and externally? For example building connections and enriching values that then establish brand credibility (authority and representation) inside out.

– Was it a lack of Emphasis on what the Customer Experience ought to be? Or is it just a numbers game?

– Was it the fact that bringing Success – True Success, is not about how much turnover a business can have by playing to the gallery and meeting the demands of your customer base but actually bringing services and products that innately changes the game for everyone. 

I am not talking about any idealistic Utopian picture here but a rather very simplistic yet very deep flow to Life that then encompasses everything- how we do Business from that point of connection then is fun, joyful, immensely graceful and magical at the same time. 

Those are the missing ingredients I would say in at least 99.9% of the businesses worldwide, and I am not saying this out of any place of sitting on a high horse, any judgement or any perfectionism but merely from what my observations and experiences have been over time.

The Digital industry is rampant with an insidious style of working – just like in most industries, but honestly- in Digital it is pronounced and disregarding in quite a few aspects.

For me and my team the focus has been to stay on purpose, on point, rock steady and open to changing dynamics in the face of external Forces. The key, as we know, is- how to be in a business, how to lead and be a true entrepreneur and most importantly how to Communicate to the world outside what that way of doing business means. 

So what if we got off the treadmill for a minute and took the time to reflect and bring our attention towards what’s really important and from that place be able to ‘Do Business’ in a world where everything is a commodity.

What if we paid attention to the spoken word when we do business, communicate to our customers and global audiences, write/make agreements, instead of dishing out marketing campaigns that seem clever and witty and seemingly intelligent but basically regurgitating the same thing in a different way. And why have we not even deemed to ask how many times we will hear the same spiel over and over again..why will we not ask WHAT makes businesses and brands and leaders operate in a certain way. 

WHAT is it really behind the veils of cleverly packaged marketing that tries to hook us all by preying on insecurities without actually giving a damn about anything else. And how come we have allowed this as part of Digital when it was not supposed to be that way…?

What if corporate leadership in 2021 and beyond looked like and focussed on:

  • Deepening Connections rather than customer acquisitions
  • Building teams that are fit for stormy weather and volatile times 
  • Innovation and building true context and not just paying lip service as to why the company/brand exists and just focussing on KPIs as is the current mindset. 
  • Nurturing customers, Nurturing teams internally, Empowering Values of Trust and Transparency. 
  • Establishing a culture of Adaptability and Consistency rather than complacency
  • Focussing on experiences that are simple and offer reflections of quality and standards in a fast moving dynamic where quality is compromised.
  • Bringing a universal Oneness style of working instead of the competitive and insecure  ways of doing cutthroat business that everyone has pandered to for too long. This is the real disease in any company that rots any foundation from the inside.

Digital and physical work great together – if we get the physical part strongly founded and grounded on all of the above.

To me and my co-founder here at Elixir we ensure that we lead from all of the above as much as we can without any need to be 100% perfect and yet have the courage to stand in front of any challenge.

Future health of businesses is directly proportional to the health of its leaders and its people. The last 12 months have shone a light on what true purpose can really mean or even look like even if we are in its nascent stages and most importantly what leading from the trenches can be like.

True Pioneering Leadership is about the courage to stay steady and true with what your company/brand vision and mission is and not let the Forces dictate their terms.

If we look at the top 5 Digital juggernauts that have their hands in virtually every business whether it’s in the physical or digital domain it is actually something that seems unbelievable and yet is very real considering the powerful reach their brands have to permeate every aspect of our lives. The question is how have we allowed ourselves to be dominated by this? 

What sort of leadership currently runs the world of Digital- where it is all about tracking consumers with spyware programs, facial recognition drones that can follow you anywhere online or offline, RFID Chip implants, Device Cameras that eerily turn on each time you are near it and AI and VR that is not just making humans dumber and duller but also embedding a new style of enslavement.

If we dig deep and actually understand beyond it all -It’s clear to see that this game of ruling the roost has been concocted and furthered by power hungry agendas at work and has always been at play even before the world was digital. 

It is not something that belongs to either True Leadership or an honourable business model whether it’s running a country or helming a business.

A model where everyone is responsible for everyone and everything. It is not just the CEO on the top that has onus on how a company or a brand ought to be- everyone has a role to play and to play with integrity- is the key here, if we are to see things change and not allow Digital to run our lives but actually integrate into our lives so we can use it our advantage. 

Yes there can be that argument that Digital has changed the world over the last decade and it has- but where are we headed with that? Let’s press pause and rethink this, instead of continuously pushing the boundaries of the Digital frontier in that incessant mad ambitious manner.

Let’s make it about truly enriching customer experiences from integrity in sourcing, quality in manufacturing/building, responsibility in marketing and an awareness of Digital integration. It’s about working with honest businesses and making them digitally strong for the world to interact with and benefit from.

In a Digital first approach we can actually do a lot. We have the power of technology to reach out, to educate, to bring a deeper sense of understanding and openness. Digital is here to offer growth with acceleration in businesses but not to facilitate  the dominating role that it currently is playing to the hilt.

Like one of my fav quotes ever – With great power, comes greater responsibility!!

Leading from the trenches is exactly this- to be responsible for it all and in the digital frontier  world that we are all seemingly breaking through, it’s up to us how we walk our next footsteps that sets The Standard in the Future,

Do we keep giving in and aligning to what is already being propagated or do we stand tall in the trenches and not cave in.

Our brand founder and author of this blog Chetan Jha is leading not just change but also innovation across the board through best practises that echo compassion understanding and reflection. To know more, email us: [email protected] 

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