This article highlights key traits of digital leaders that allow them to leverage on disruptions and scale their organization through digital transformation.
As a pandemic-led uncertainty is sweeping through organizations and functions, the only thing we can be sure about is that we are stepping into a digital future. From hybrid workplaces to online collaboration, the onset of a digital future has never been more evident. According to The Economist, digital-enabled services are soon going to be regular features in every sphere. Major advancements in technology and adoption have created a space where being a laggard is simply not an option for any business. However, to adopt these practices and integrate them into the core functions of any organization, the presence of a digital-ready leadership is an absolute prerequisite.
Also read: Digital Workplace – All You Need to Know
Digital-ready leaders lay the foundation of digital transformation, and streamline organizations in a way that allows them to reap maximum benefits out of disruptions. They support and inspire employees to change the way they work, they revolutionize their processes, increase profitability, and lead their organizations to phenomenal success.
Let’s take a look at a few traits that all digital-ready leaders possess.
Nothing starts without a concrete roadmap having clear milestones and actionable checklists. Digital leaders are able to create a vision that acts as a compass for others to follow. This vision can stem only from sound digital literacy, sufficient technical knowledge, and a thorough investigation into their company’s strengths and weaknesses.
They drive digital transformation by introducing initiatives and platforms, engaging others to maximize adoption, and governing the actual results against expected results. This is not to say that they are rigid or inflexible, as no technological advancement is possible without creativity and innovation (more on that later). What this means is that they don’t take a backseat just because they took a few digital initiatives and think that will be enough. They actively monitor and inculcate these practices to reach and exceed business expectations.
We talked about creativity and innovation above. Transformations and revolutions don’t take place under the confines of existing industry practices and benchmarks. Digital leaders that did not wait for a pandemic to bring about a technological revolution in their company are reaping maximum benefits among a startling number of laggards. It’s not enough to follow the best practices and emulate what’s already been done. True leaders don’t settle for the present, they gear up for the future.
Digital leaders constantly identify gaps in their industries, and then set out to bridge them through the latest technological innovations. They don’t go by the book, instead, they become a pioneer for others to follow.
Creativity is inadvertently followed by curiosity, as digital leaders set out to find new and tech-savvy ways to implement their digital vision. Digital transformation has to come top-down, and such leaders are always on the lookout for the next disruptor. Curiosity runs in their veins, and they are automatically one step ahead of everyone as they predict shifts and trends in the industry. Successful digital leaders also don’t shy away from getting their hands dirty trying out new technologies and tools themselves. In fact, they are the first ones to jump in and give them a try.
For example, curious digital leaders discovered and adopted pathbreaking practices like business automation and no-code development well before others, allowing their companies to stand out and reach heights that were seldom imagined before.
While digital know-how and technical knowledge aid leaders, it is their soft skills that are of the utmost importance when they lead their teams through periods of transition and disruption. According to Harvard Business Review, true digital transformation can only come about if leaders take the initiative to inspire their teams to upskill and provide them with the required support.
They also need to coach their teams in the face of adversities that are inevitable when undertaking such adoptions and changes. From contingency plans to hand-holding when necessary, digital leaders are very sensitive to the needs of their teams and strategize accordingly. They also create a culture of collaboration, through communication and platforms that allow team members to reach out to each other and work towards the greater organizational goal.
A team-centric and knowledge-sharing culture is a bigger priority for digital leaders than conventional hierarchies. This allows their teams to power through periods of unexpected change and adversities without losing sight of the bigger picture.
We have mentioned roadmaps and checklists above, but we know that the journey to digital transformation is not that linear and simple. It takes a lot of experimentation and trial to pin down what works and what does not. This is where the vision and perseverance of digital leaders come into play, as they don’t back down after a few failed experiments. They create an environment and work culture where the teams feel empowered to innovate and experiment without the fear of failing. Successful digital leaders imagine a future that is nothing like the status quo, and then they experiment to the point of implementing that future into a reality.
Needless to say, undertaking the process of digital transformation is a step away from the comfort zone of many companies. However, digital leaders have a good risk-taking appetite and they are able to see into the results that the future will reap instead of getting carried away by temporary setbacks and challenges.
Digital leaders do not fear failures as long as they learn from them and use the lesson to make better decisions going ahead. These risks ultimately pay off and allow their organizations to scale like never before.
Great minds think alike, and they often inspire each other. Digital leaders derive inspiration from others by leaving no stone unturned when it comes to networking. The pandemic has also allowed for a host of webinars and summits to take place virtually, which digital leaders have been using to their benefit. They showcase their own vision and accomplishments while learning from others and make meaningful connections with other industry leaders that inadvertently help in the long run.
Here’s a short, easy to grasp infographic version of traits of a digital leader.
To sum it up, digital leaders stand out because of their innovation and vision, and not necessarily through their position or seniority. By fostering a culture of digital dexterity and adoption in their organization, such leaders take their organization a league ahead. They are well aware that every industry, from manufacturing to legal, can benefit from digital practices. They lead by example and make their organization proud.
Also listen: 7 Characteristics of Successful Digital Leaders
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