Digital transformation is a core tenet in today\u2019s technology environment, but carrying it out effectively might require a new approach to leadership. What kind of leader are you, and what kind of leader do you need to be? Countdown\u2019s head of technology, Steve James, has spent the past 18 months asking those questions, believing now that personal transformation is the forerunner to better leadership.\nAs guest speaker at the Influencer Network event hosted by CIO New Zealand\u2019s sister publication Reseller News, James outlined a path to a new way to lead teams, one that he considers is necessary in today\u2019s ever-changing environment. He noted that corporate business is in \u201cthe driving seat that shapes our future\u201d and that IT and tech sector leaders can help spearhead this transformation.\n[ Learn from your peers: Check out our State of the CIO 2021 report on the challenges and concerns of CIOs today. | Find out the 7 skills of successful digital leaders and the secrets of highly innovative CIOs. | Get weekly insights by signing up for our CIO newsletter. ]\n\u201cThe leaders of the past are not the leaders we need for tomorrow. The command-and-control style that we refer to in the years\u2019 past is not something that is going to work any more. The leaders of the future use their power differently. They share power and by sharing power, they gain power,\u201d he says.\nPersonal transformation in the leadership space is hard because how people lead is influenced by all the experiences they\u2019ve had\u2014growing up, as well as in business, James says. \u201cI\u2019m a white male. I was born into privilege, by the very nature of the cultural system we are part of and have contributed to. I\u2019ve had to start to unlearn some of those things as well. I\u2019m still unlearning, I haven\u2019t quite got there yet,\u201d he says.\nJames related Robert Kegan\u2019s five stages of human development, \u2018orders of mind\u2019 which he says helped him understand the leadership mindset that is required to meet today\u2019s environment. These stages are part of what he learned through the Play Contemporary Leadership CoLab, which incorporates leadership development, an understanding of systems, and culture and a contemporary take on diversity and inclusion.\nThe egocentric-self and the socialised orders of mind\nJames says everyone goes through the first stage, the \u2018egocentric order of mind\u2019, which he characterises as similar to a small child who can\u2019t recognise other people\u2019s points of view. Most of us will move on from this stage by the time we reach adolescence, but about 5% will be stuck in it for life.\n\u201cLeaders whose order of mind is centred at this stage will probably assert controlling, \u2018my way or the highway\u2019 behaviours. Employees will play out victim or rebel roles, and whole organisations at this level can even be dictatorial and oppressive,\u201d he says.\nThe next stage is the \u2018socialised order of mind\u2019, when you define yourself in relation to others rather than by your own values, James says. \u201cFor example, I am the head of IT and think I have to be really good at IT. What I may not be aware of is that this comes from belief systems I have about myself, others, and the world. So, what my group CIO in Australia thinks of me will be important not just for my job but my whole identity. We spend our whole time trying to play at the thing we want people to think we are, but we don\u2019t realise we are doing it.\u201d\nLeaders can be effective at this order of mind, but often they can act like benevolent parents and so lead organisations that are hierarchical but efficient. While employees will have input, the real decisions are still made at the top. This stage is not so easy to move out of\u2014it is likely that around 70% of adults function at this stage or transition to the next, James says.\nThe self-authored to transcended-ego orders of mind\nAbout 20% of leaders might move over time to the third stage, called \u2018self-authoring order of mind\u2019. This is when they begin to examine their own values and are driven by those values rather than trying to constantly meet others\u2019 expectations, James says.\n\u201cWhen you are operating at this stage, you are happy to risk failure because you know what\u2019s important: the values that I have. I\u2019m happy to stand out on the edge where it\u2019s uncomfortable because I\u2019m not driven necessarily by what you think of me. I have a strong value proposition inside and I\u2019m happy to stand up for those things. This when we can start breaking out of the norms of society,\u201d he says.\nLeaders at this stage, James says, are more likely to share power, and their organisations have more of an opportunity to become structured around self-managed, high-performing teams. Employees exhibit and are expected to practice creativity and critical decision making. The agile methodology, when it is being carried out authentically, is an example of this type of organisational structure.\nThe fourth and penultimate stage is the \u2018self-transforming order of mind\u2019, which occurs when people understand that they have many selves\u2014some they long to be and others they want to shy away from.\nPart of this is accepting the \u2018shadow self\u2019, those parts of your psyche that you might keep from others; they have often been shaped in childhood and adolescence. Understanding these so-called negative traits can be useful; for example, people prone to being judgemental are often very honest, so this trait can be constructive when tempered with compassion.\nOnly about 5% of adults reach this stage, and leaders at this stage are very community-orientated, a true embodiment of the \u2018servant leader\u2019. \u201cOrganisations become self-renewing, and the members of those organisations are true participating partners. Sustainability and long-term common good become the highest values,\u201d James says.\nThe final stage is the \u2018transcendence of ego\u2019, and James admits that this phase \u201cscares me\u201d. It is when you see the divine in life and realise everything is connected. Only a tiny percentage of people reach this stage. \u201cLeaders at this level function as global visionaries enacting a world service for the global good.\u201d\nCOVID-19 was a catalyst for new ways to lead\nJames says during the COVID-19 pandemic, people have seen a new way to behave as leaders, where decision making is pushed \u201cfurther down\u201d the organisation. The understanding is that people will make mistakes, but they can do so in a supportive environment. Values, rather than just profits, come to the fore during experiences such as the lockdowns.\n\u201cThe key thing that happened right at the beginning of the COVID pandemic in New Zealand was that our executives sat in a room and one of them said, \u2018Can we stop talking about the sales every day and start talking about how we get food to people every day?\u2019. And people went, \u2018Actually you\u2019re right\u2019 and we were able to go back to our roots as a grocer,\u201d James recalls.\nDuring the first lockdown \u2013 from March to May 2020 \u2013 Countdown, which has 183 stores nationwide, experienced a massive customer-led transformation. James says more than 100,000 customers registered for the company\u2019s priority-assistance online shopping service, which had to be set up in five days; five supermarkets were turned into \u2018dark stores\u2019 to service the online demand, and Olive the chatbot had 300,000 conversations in April 2020 alone.\nBut there is a way to go, especially around diversity and inclusion. The company has a goal to have 20% M\u0101ori and Pacific representation across its senior roles, including store managers and above.\n\u201cWe have a learning culture that is becoming ever present in Countdown, where it\u2019s OK to explore new things, where it wasn\u2019t before\u2014[where it had been] \u2018this is the way you do fast-moving-consumable-goods, there is no other way of doing it\u2019. That\u2019s changing with our move to the digital world and some of the convenience aspects, some of the old models are just being naturally broken down,\u201d he says.