Leadership and Digital Technology
As digital technologies continue to evolve and organizational environments shift, the skills required to be an effective leader will need to continuously undergo changes.
As we have seen with the pandemic, organizations around the world had to streamline operations by implementing technology that enabled remote work, facilitate collaboration and communication for their employees. Leaders will continually face new challenges and adapt both the organization and their leadership styles to these new environments.
As organizations engage in digital initiatives, employees look to leaders for guidance. Therefore, leaders are subject to increasing expectations and heightened scrutiny around how they understand and embrace technology, communicate strategy and vision around digital transformation, and manage their functions and teams through related changes, for the road ahead.
What is Digital Leadership?
Simply put, Digital Leadership is having the discipline to lead a team/ organization toward digital transformation to remain competitive and agile in a rapidly evolving environment. This involves connecting technology to the marketplace, as well as the organizational business and culture.
Are there enough effective digital leaders to go around, who can meet the challenges most companies are facing?
The answer really lies with organizations and how they choose to hire or develop digital leaders. It is not necessarily all about understanding technology, but more so about leading amid the new business environment created by digital disruption. Organizations should not focus on leaders who have mastered technology, but more on leaders who have change oriented skills or those that have a transformative vision. In addition, focus should be on leaders who are intellectually curious about technology, but at the same time, understand technology well enough to connect its effective use to their organizations’ business directives.
Effective digital leadership is a requirement at all stages of digital maturity and must be cultivated at every level of the organization. Leaders with a digital mindset are critical and analytical thinkers. They regularly ponder new ways to tackle existing and potential business issues with technology-related solutions and are open to incorporating effective and efficient digital technologies as part of their strategy. They do not, however, adopt technologies just for the sake of appearing trendy or tech savvy. Instead, they carefully think through the incremental value that digital options can provide to people, process, organization, customers, and shareholders.
I think by providing vision and purpose and creating the conditions for people to experiment, along with the ability to empower people to think differently and getting people to collaborate across boundaries, are also effective traits of a digital leader.
In conclusion, we need to look at digital leadership beyond command-and-control hierarchy of traditional organizations and move toward cultivating vibrant networks that can act with higher levels of autonomy. The ultimate success of digital leadership lies with effective strategic thinking, having the ability to think big picture, change orientation, creating a culture to enable smooth implementation of technical solutions and a growth mindset, the ability and motivation to continuously learn and improve, both for themselves and those they lead, for the road ahead.