Enlightened Leadership for the Digital Age - Wholesaler Institute
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Enlightened Leadership for the Digital Age

        It’s hard to deny the world has been totally transformed in an amazingly short period of time due to digital technology.   Businesses, politics, media, society, economies, our cultures, as well as our families and our personal lives, have been and continue to be in a constant state of transformation.  We are living in a new reality, a digital reality.

        Prior to the digital age, the very existence of some companies was unthinkable.  Today, the largest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber).   The largest provider of lodging owns no real estate (Airbnb).   The number one bookseller has practically no brick-and-mortar stores (Amazon).   New digital companies rise to prominence in a matter of months and traditional companies continue to be driven to extinction.

        Structures, strategies, and principles for doing business have been revolutionized.  The traditional areas of business such as sales, marketing, product development, research, product production, and supply chain automation have all been impacted.  Whole new areas of business such as data analytics, cloud computing technologies, and artificial intelligence did not even exist before the digital age.

        The most successful leaders are creating cultures that evaluate, experiment and embrace change quickly.  They are comfortable letting go of old, outdated processes and systems and organizational structures and then, as quickly as possible, create new ones.

        Until very recently, the most common style of leadership in business has been command and control.  It is, by its very title, dictatorial and militaristic in nature.  It assumes the leader knows best and will provide astute direction to the team below must follow.  Most people have worked in organizations dominated by this style and consequently become command and control leaders.

        Looking back, historically, to the industrial revolution and the need to create large workforces to produce quality goods efficiently, command and control leadership was naturally appropriate.  Until recently, innovation was much slower.  Leadership had the luxury of more time to respond.

        Leading in the digital age is dynamically different.  Transformation due to new technology is rapid-fire and dramatic.  Poor response time could result in loss of market share, competitive advantage and, in some cases, the very existence of the business itself.  Change leadership in the digital world requires a new style of leadership.

        Because challenges due to change attack quickly, well-informed decisions also need to be made quickly.  This requires a higher level of resourcing from the team itself.  The digital age leader must embrace the Enlightened Leadership style.  Input with a greater range of perspectives and input sources results in better and faster decisions.

        It is possible to embrace Enlightened Leadership while continuing to provide strong direction.  Leadership is an art and a science.  The art of leadership is knowing how to apply the science. The art of leadership is knowing how to apply the science. Enlightened Leadership solicits input and involvement and taps the greater potential that lies within the group.  This allows for more expansive, creative possibilities and effective solutions for dealing with change.

The differences between command and control and co-creative leadership are clear.

  • Command and Control


    Results driven messaging


    Writes plans

    Improves existing systems

    Owns the plan

    Hires subordinates

    Speaks more

    Minimizes risk

    Hire based upon past performance

    Focuses on analytics

  • Enlightened Leadership


    Instills a sense of purpose


    Communicates a vision

    Encourages creative approaches

    Communicates a vision

    Creates relationships

    Listens more

    Takes calculated risks

    Hires based upon future potential

    Creates a positive culture

        This new Enlightened Leadership approach is to run towards change, embracing change, and actively implementing informed decisions.   The Command and Control Leader seeks to hold on to the status quo and resists change. The Enlightened Leader is proactive and leads the team forward head-on into the change that is presenting itself.

        Enlightened Leadership presents risks.  Ineffective leaders all possess one common defining quality.  They fail to take enough risks and move slowly.  Early adoption of new technology is risky and can be costly if it doesn’t work.  But, in most cases, the failure to take calculated risks is more costly.

        It is safe to say none of the core leadership principles and skills needed to succeed in the digital age are new.  What is new is the emphasis and importance of these elements and how they are implemented.

        After reviewing the impact of a world in constant flux, it’s easy to make a case for implementing the strategies of Enlightened Leadership.  So what’s the problem?  Why don’t all leaders begin to transition to a new, more effective leadership style?  The Enlightened Leader knows the importance of letting go, the Command and Control leader does not.

The Monkey and the Cookies

        There was once was a monkey who came across a house with an open window.  He climbed in the window and saw a big cookie jar on the kitchen counter.  Salivating at the delicious bounty he discovered, he opened the lid and plunged his hand into the jar, grabbing as many cookies as his little hand could hold.

        He tried to pull his hand out of the jar, but it was stuck-he was holding on to too many cookies!  He turned his hand this way and that way, trying to get his hand out without losing any of the cookies, but to no avail.  He was determined to get all of the cookies.

And so, he held on.  And eventually, the monkey starved to death.


“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of change, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

― Lao Tzu.


To learn more about Paul Karasik’s Programs: contact@wholesalerinstitute.com or call: 310-546-9277

To reach Paul directly: Paul@paulkarasik.com