What does it take to win in today’s digital economy? How do you deal with the disruption caused by digital technologies, evolving business models and a changing workforce?

Digital leaders are in high demand as business increasingly relies on digital technologies. These leaders are tech-savvy, data-driven and are able to inspire teams to engage in rapid experimentation that drives transformation and business outcomes.

Given the scale of digital disruptions, the skills and perspectives of digital leaders are now required in every industry and job function: from operations to HR; accounting to product development; marketing to strategy.

Let’s think a little bit about the benefits of effective digital leadership.

The first thing that you do is that you inspire digital education.

  1. Inspires Education

    You get people to want to follow you, as a consequence of you being a thought leader in the space, and that’s really important–both from a personal brand point of view and also to enable the organization to be uplifted and gain a competitive advantage in this digital revolution.

  2. Acknowledge Organizational and Personal Failings

    When thinking about digital leadership you’re also thinking about creating some sort of gap analysis.
    Understand exactly what the organization is currently doing and what they’re currently failing on as well.
    Once you can get both those perspectives, it enables you to create a robust plan to address those objectives.

  3. Creates Partnerships

    Now, an interesting way of doing this is not by creating an in-house approach but instead by actually being smart and using what else is already out there as a way to form partnerships that fill some of those key gaps.
    Digital leadership is about helping to identify who your key partners could be, and in tomorrow’s landscape of business it’s going to be much less around harnessing competitive advantages that create a win/lose, but much more about how do you create win/win relationships with your largest suppliers and the people you work with.
    Don’t forget the role of the consumer as well in creating great partnerships too!
    We’re going through a wave of new startup and entrepreneurial opportunities and these create great opportunities for larger organizations to come to the forefront and form partnerships with them too.
    So don’t discount smaller startup-based organizations, instead, think about partnerships and the opportunities that they could leverage.

  4. Defines Iterative and Replicable Processes

    Being a digital leader should be about enabling you to steer the organization appropriately through the most cost-effective means while still being able to be iterative, agile, flexible, and also robust in the way that you operate to enable you’re able to replicate your results elsewhere.

There’s a couple of dimensions that you need to consider when thinking about the effects of digital leadership, but often when you’re thinking about creating a digital transformation program it’s really important to think about how do you actually get other people on board.

How do you encourage digital leadership? Well, there are a number of tools and techniques one can use to do this.

The first is communicating results to employees. Gain a fan following based on small-scale pilots that you currently have in the marketplace. Once you do that, you then have the ability for people to jump on board and the snowball effect comes into play.

The second is encouraging innovation. Now, what do I mean by that? It’s creating a mindset within the organization that anything is possible and that what we need to do is foster an approach where innovation is both accepted, encouraged and also where employees want to get on the bandwagon as well.

Also, a part of our process needs to be honest and realistic about exactly what approaches we take. Leadership and digital leadership is about being constructive to the people who are trying to undertake this transformation with you.
Be constructive, be critical–but also be positive about how employees can improve in a robust & tangible way.
Then finally, think about culture. It’s extraordinarily important that employees invest in themselves and invest in their learning.
If an organization is not willing to encourage this, then clearly it’s going to be a big drawback for employees to want to do it on their own.

Think about the learning development requirements of your organization and then as a consequence of that, make sure that you’re putting steps in place to be able to deliver.

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