Linda Hill explains how the digital workplace is generating greater burdens on managers but also creating new opportunities to shine. PLUS: Book excerpt.

Complex trends in globalization, demographic shifts, and new technologies are raising urgent challenges for managers on an everyday level. Because of the number of companies undergoing digital transformation, managers need to navigate an intense speed-to-market landscape while juggling virtual teams within and sometimes outside their organization.

This raises questions like: How will you innovate? How will you bring out the best ideas in your teams working together near and far? How will you drive change within the organization and the broader business ecosystem?

As Harvard Business School Professor Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback write in the new preface to their book Being the Boss: The Three Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, first published in 2011 and reissued this spring, “Leadership has always been hard, and in a world in which the competitive rules are being upended, we know it’s getting harder. We all need to keep learning and adapting.”

We asked Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration, to discuss how managers can work faster, embrace digital transformation to cultivate collaboration within and beyond the organization, and build networks for innovation.

Martha Lagace: How can you as a manager guide your reports through a business world where speed-to-market is everything?

Linda A. Hill: In Being the Boss we describe three interrelated imperatives:

  • Manage yourself.
  • Manage your network.
  • Manage your team.

It comes as no surprise that so many managers are overwhelmed and burned out these days. In our dynamic, competitive environment, speed matters. If managers do not develop their people so they can delegate to them, or if they do not turn their groups into agile teams able to learn and adapt together, then they cannot leverage themselves. If they cannot leverage themselves, they have no time to build relationships with their peers and bosses to get access to the resources their teams need to deliver. And let’s face it, reaching out and cultivating relationships in global companies often means staying up late or getting up early to cope with time zone challenges or living in airports sometimes being 50 percent of a manager’s time.