As the global workforce continues to accelerate its digital transformation at an unprecedented rate, businesses must remember that investing in technology and digital infrastructure is only one part of it. They must also invest in digital leaders who can navigate their organization and team through these digital changes. To be able to do so, they must be up to speed with technological disruptions.
It is easier said than done. Several companies have already dropped out of the race or are dwindling because they lack the foresight and agility needed to adapt to digital transformation shifts. Case-in-point: Skype did not seize the opportunity to become the top video conferencing platform when the whole world went into lockdown, despite being older than Zoom. We can all remember how we used to have Skype on the top of our minds when it comes to virtual meetings.
The good news is: Digital leaders are made, not born.
Digital leadership is a mindset, where the necessary skills and knowledge are developed through time, effort, and practice. It is an investment often overlooked in most companies' digital transformation.
How do you cultivate that mindset? Gartner identifies seven qualities of highly-successful digital leaders. Read on if you want to know how to embody those much-coveted characteristics.
Digital Leaders are Neophiliacs
Simply put, a digital leader is someone who welcomes new ideas. We all know a traditional leader who refuses to welcome new ideas and change. A digital leader, on the contrary, is always ready to explore new situations, opportunities, and decisions. Aspiring digital leaders should let go of being so resistant to change.
Digital leaders invent, but also copy
One secret of highly-successful digital leaders: not everything they invented was their original idea. Instead, they innovated existing ideas and products with their own twist and signature style.
Zoom did not pioneer video-conferencing calls, breakout rooms, or green screen backgrounds. But it was through innovating all of those features into one easy-to-understand package, that led millions of people around the world to flock to it during lockdown. Another example is the smartphone. Whether you use Apple or Samsung, you know both tech companies add new features and upgrades every year -- but it was more than 25 years ago that the smartphone was invented, by IBM.
It's all about finding that balance between innovating and plainly ripping an idea off.
Digital leaders eschew industry boundaries
If there is anything technology continues to show us to this very day, it is that the possibilities are endless. We do not know what else it is capable of doing tomorrow. We do not know what the next task or gap technology will automate. Successful digital leaders recognize the possibilities for their organizations. They know that technology makes them capable of offering so much more than what their industry offers.
In essence, aspiring digital leaders shouldn’t focus on what’s there, but rather on what’s not — which is often a limitation for organizations with an industry-based point of view.
Digital leaders appreciate that innovation is more than just creativity
Just like how technology is only one part of digital transformation, creativity is just one part of innovation. Yes, it is important to be creative. But digital leaders know this isn't enough. They challenge themselves and their team, So what?
Aspiring digital leaders must always remember that the next crazy idea needs to be something that customers actually need.
Innovation = Creativity + Challenge + Collaboration + Construction + Commercialization
Digital leaders build teams with high AQ
We all know what Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) mean, but have you heard of Adversity Quotient (AQ)?
Adversity quotient is a person's ability to deal with adversities. It's something that the COVID-19 pandemic put to the test. But highly-successful digital leaders came out strong despite the crisis. One, because they understand technology's unpredictable nature, making the most out of each disruption. Two, because they were able to lead their teams as the change unfolded rapidly.
Aspiring digital leaders can cultivate their AQ not just by setting their eyes on the prize, but by anticipating the worst that can happen. With how technology is evolving, anything can throw an organization off, but highly-effective digital leaders know how to bounce back.
Digital leaders never consider digital to be the outcome
According to Gartner, 'digital is only a means to an end.' Technology is only a way of doing things to achieve the desired product. This can be digital or not. Digital leaders use technology to make the work process more agile and iterative, and to empower smaller teams to make decisions for themselves.
Digital leaders geek out on technology and so do their people
But most of all, digital leaders should do their homework and be up-to-date with the latest technological trends. Aspiring digital leaders can start by reading the news, books, and other learning material. It is also crucial for them to share their knowledge with their team members.
With digital leaders, your organization is the ideal environment to work in: where employees have the latest in tech, where they are given opportunities to use these digital tools, and where everyone shares the passion for what they do.
Do you have what it takes to be a digital leader?
Join our webinar!
Starting July 14, next Wednesday
Digital Leadership: What successful digital leaders look like.
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Our resource speaker has more than a decade of human resource expertise -- even international accolades -- to make sure you get the best tips on becoming the next digital leader.
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We also have more resources lined up for you. Check out the other webinars on our Digital is Essential Webinar Series:
JULY 21, Wednesday - Digital Communication and Collaboration: Making teams work better together when they’re apart
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JULY 28, Wednesday - Digital Learning: Developing agile learners to boost performance and productivity
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