Leadership in a digital marketplace

The McKinsey Quarterly, a publication from the consulting powerhouse, McKinsey & Company, recently put out a practice brief entitled "How centered leaders achieve extraordinary results" in an effort at understanding the "extraordinary stress" on leaders caused by a fast-paced, complex and volatile work environment. 

The report identified the "five dimensions of centered leadership" as "meaning" as in infusing a sense of meaning both at work and home; "positive framing" in terms of how leaders frame the world – optimistically or pessimistically;  "connecting" with folks "across the ecosystem" rather than linearly down a chain hierarchy;" engaging" to lead change and "managing energy" to sustain change. All great macro points that are brought to bear on a specific example in another report from the Quarterly entitled "Inside P&G's digital revolution".

The article notes that the consumer giant led by CEO Robert McDonald wants to make the company the world's most technologically enabled company. McDonald is instituting a system wide "application of digital technology and advanced analytics across every aspect of the firms—from the way the consumer goods giant creates molecules in its R&D labs to how it maintains relationships with retailers, manufactures products, builds brands, and interacts with customers".

The changes with regard to interacting with customers are probably the most profound and potentially rewarding. The firm uses what it terms as  "consumer pulse" which uses continually updated (based on new information) analyses "to scan the universe of comments, categorize them by individual brand, and then put them on the screen of the relevant individual. This allows for real-time reaction to what’s going on in the marketplace". Leadership then knows that if something happens in a blog and is not responded to  immediately and avoid a situation when they don’t even know about it resulting in it spinning out of control before anyone intervenes.

P&G's view is corroborated by a recent survey from NYSE Euronext which found that both CEOs and MBA students agree that social media will have a profound impact on how companies do business in the future, although CEOs of emerging companies and MBAs are more convinced of this than well-established companies. Most executives supplement digital fact-finding with peer conversations and reading print publications, while emerging-company CEOs and MBAs are more likely to access business blogs, twitter streams and TV. Virtually all see ssocial media as an effective mechanism for customer relationship management.

The digital revolution may lead to Institutions of all stripes reaping significant benefits from leveraging enterprise value at many levels, not least by heightening customer-enterprise awareness. But it also arguably leaves them open to greater negative consequences stemming from miscues such as leaked records of intra-institution missives that were not necessarily for open consumption as happened when a University of Missouri leaked classroom video went viral and triggered an uproar.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.