It’s talked about endlessly in business circles and on the internet, but why exactly is digital transformation leadership so important today?
What sort of a person is a digital transformation leader? What qualities should they possess? We’re going to answer these questions and more in this article.
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Why digital transformation leadership should be driving your business
“The nature of the Net is destined to change,” writes Patel and McCarthy in their book, Digital Transformation: The Essentials of E-Business Leadership. “Its demographics are changing. Its technology underpinnings are changing. Its infrastructure is changing.”
If your business is not prepared for all this change, what do you think is going to happen? If you don’t have the skills for digital transformation leadership within your business, you are going to fail. It’s as simple as that.
How will the digital world evolve? How do you prepare for the unpredictable?
“Even big players find themselves unprepared sometimes. Just ask Microsoft’s Bill Gates and AOL’s Steve Case. Neither anticipated the speed or extent of the Internet’s effect upon their markets.”
“Even with some knowledge about the near-term future,” say Patel and McCarthy, “there is no guarantee of smooth sailing.” However, a change-agile leader, or a skilled digital transformation leadership team, may help you avoid being blindsided.
Not only that, but it may also ignite some “visions about new value creation, improved efficiencies and enhanced customer interaction.”
The 5 essential traits of digital transformation leadership
1. Clear vision
Digital transformation leadership, just like any kind of leadership, is empowered by clear vision and purpose.
Leaders who have the ability to answer the question “why” are more apt to bring their employees and business along with them.
It’s not about adding new technology for the sake of adding technology. It’s about implementing digital change so that we can be more efficient, innovative, accessible, or more able to meet our customers’ needs.
2. Opportunistic thinking
Change-agile leaders should be able to look to the future and see the bigger picture. They should always have the question in mind, “how can we turn this to our advantage?”
Opportunistic thinking should permeate modern, digital businesses. Employees should have a free and open environment to grow and experiment.
Those that succeed should be recognized and rewarded. But it’s also critical to praise those who fail and learn something from the experience, for pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo — these are the risk-takers your organization needs.
3. Pursuit of excellence
Digital transformation leadership is about the pursuit of excellence. Technology should be an enabler, not a hindrance. And even if something appears to be working, the ideal leader would question whether it’s working to its fullest potential.
In the digital world, this could mean the difference between making it or being the next big business to go under.
Is your CRM being used as well as it could be? Are your sales professionals reaching their targets or are they falling behind? Is your customer service centre maxed out? These are all signs that digital transformation leadership is required to fix what is broken.
“Change-agile leaders not only fix what’s broken, they seek out what isn’t quite right, even before they know.”
Daniel Newman, Forbes
The digital world presents us with new frontiers on a daily basis; it evolves at such a rapid pace. This can be scary.
Digital leaders need to be brave. When faced with the unfamiliar, do you stay as far away as possible? Or do you arm yourself with good people, a good plan and take the plunge?
Accept that failure is a possibility and if it happens, “fail fast”, learn from the experience, then move onto something better.
5. Communication and collaboration skills
Whatever your business, in today’s world it’s no longer about simply giving directions or barking orders. It’s about collaborating, consulting, partnering — with your team, with your agencies and with your customers.
Digital transformation leadership is as much about human interaction and effective communication as it is technology. Collaboration will allow you to streamline your processes across the board and make your entire business a well-oiled machine.
As McKinsey states, “Digital transformation requires the full support of a company’s top leaders.” It’s going digital transformation leadership that is going to steer your business through the ever-changing seas of digital evolution.
Digital transformation leaders must be visionaries, risk-takers, and change-lovers. It’s their bravery, effective communication skills, ability to spot opportunities, and pursuit of excellence that will drive your business to where it needs to go. If you don’t have these attributes, be smart enough to recognize them in others and hire accordingly.
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