Paul Smitton, Director, Customer Lifestyle, Cathay Pacific Airways, manages two horizontal teams and five vertical teams at Cathay Pacific. With the introduction of digital transformation, Paul describes the art of leadership as having evolved from being authoritative to being an empowering leader.
"The old model is more like a shepherd guiding their sheep, with the shepherd directing the sheep to go here, go there, eat that grass, etc. That leadership job is to guide that team completely and tell them everything they have to do.
"Whereas the new model is more like a beekeeper looking after a beehive. The leader puts in place the infrastructure, the building, and everything they need to create great honey. The bees are left to figure out where to go, find the pollen, and how to create the honey inside that environment. They're much more trusted to get on and achieve what they need to achieve," Paul explains.
There is an art when it comes to speed, which is a key challenge Paul sees at the moment in his journey of digital transformation.
"With agile at scale, if you go too fast down the line, people perceive that it isn't working. This creates all sorts of problems. It can create some scar tissue, which makes subsequent digital transformation initiatives just that little bit harder, rather than easier.
"It is a challenge to achieve a balance between speed and getting it right. It's probably the most critical business mistake. If you don't get it right, it can lead to problems down the line," Paul says.
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