What are the essential leadership skills for digital transformation?

Every business today relies on technology in one way or another and the pandemic has accelerated this reliance even further.

Being technologically-orientated is now a necessity for businesses to survive as opposed to a strategic advantage. Business leaders today must, therefore, demonstrate a fair knowledge of the scope of digital transformation in their companies.

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The entire process of a business adopting the latest technological trends can be summed up by the term ‘digital transformation.’ Yet this process can mean different things to different companies. For some, it can involve simply upgrading their IT equipment while for others it can mean investing in AI-controlled marketing tools. For digital transformation to be a success, the process must start with senior management understanding its significance for the business and employees.

Unfortunately, not a lot of senior managers we see today are equipped to bring about digital transformation. According to a study by HR Dive, poor leadership and a lack of recognition for technological trends were the most common causes of companies becoming obsolete.

So, what skills do you need to have as a business leader to successfully transform your company and stay ahead of the technological trends? Let’s find out.

  • A basic understanding of new technologies

While being a successful manager doesn’t require you to be an expert in creating  IT software or developing new AI algorithms, you do need a fair understanding of how relevant technologies can work in practice in your company.

You should also understand the potential uses of new technologies and possible ways to implement them in your business.

A good knowledge of different technologies in your domain can also help you explain their benefits to your employees and overcome resistance to implementing them.

  • A fair amount of foresight

Events like the recent pandemic and their impact on your company can rarely be predicted. However, as a business leader you should have the ability to read the current trends and foresee how they may pan out.

This foresight can also apply to digital trends and help you understand their impact if you implement them in your organisation. A fair amount of foresight into digital trends also will help lead your company through periods of uncertainty.

  • A people-centred approach towards management

While adopting digital technologies will likely improve organisational efficiency and reduce the chances of human errors, it can be very easy to lose focus from the fact that technology is there to serve the people, not the other way around.

Losing focus from your staff and not caring for their reaction to adopting new technology can be harmful to the overall efficiency of your business. This is especially true if employees begin to see technology as their replacement and become increasingly reluctant to adopt it.

As a manager, you must therefore have a people-centred approach towards digital transformation. You must focus on getting your team properly introduced to the technological changes and train them to understand the benefits of these changes.

  • Ability to effectively deal with ambiguity

In the business world, decisions are rarely black and white. There are a lot of pros and cons to adopting a specific technology and it’s your responsibility as a leader to navigate through the ambiguity.

A Leading Edge Forum report suggests that 71% of digital-ready CEOs say confidence in their decisions helps when they are asked to interpret ambiguity in technological decisions. Educating yourself thoroughly about a specific technology will be a sure way to make the decision-making process easier.

As a business leader initiating digital transformation, you would also require a strategic mindset as well as excellent [AHC1] communication and leadership skills.

Good collaboration skills will also go a long way in establishing yourself as a thought leader in the digital space. An EY study reported that more than 70% of business leaders heading digital organisations employ cross-functional teams in their companies. Additionally, 59% of global CEOs think it is beneficial to forge good relationships with other CEOs for company growth.

Investing in an MSc for digital transformation programme can allow you to cultivate all these capabilities and hone your leadership skills. GISMA Business School in Germany offers an MSc Leadership for Digital Transformation programme which could be the ideal next step to take.

The course will introduce you to the essential aspects of initiating and leading digital transformation projects in mid-sized or large companies. Additionally, you will learn how to recognise promising digital trends and incorporate them into the company agenda.

By studying this programme, you’ll also benefit from access to our highly-qualified faculty and extensive career support services offered by the GISMA Career Centre.

Click  here to apply for the digital transformation programme at GISMA.


 – This article was written by Sweha Hazari.

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