Whether digitisation has become second nature to an organisation, or perhaps it has only recently embarked on a digital journey, we hear similar questions from our clients: How do we prepare our leaders for a disruptive, digital future?
By Liora Gross, General Manager – Sub-Saharan Africa, Center for Creative Leadership
Furthermore, how do we shift culture and mindsets to support our digital strategy? And how do we accelerate digital transformation in our organisation?
Our research at the Center for Creative Leadership has identified the top five challenges that organisations face in digital transformation:
- Insufficient internal skills
- Lack of a clear vision for a digital customer journey
- Integrating new technologies
- Resistance to change
- Ineffective data gathering
Addressing these challenges requires leaders to develop skill sets and capabilities (both personal and systemic) to transform organisations. Preparing for a digital future requires alignment in strategy, culture, people and processes.
While organisations have transformed themselves before, the digital journey brings a new level of complexity.
How can leaders prepare themselves to implement their company’s digital strategy and transformation?
Our research shows that the fundamental work and ‘output’ of leadership in any context are to create Direction, Alignment, and Commitment (DAC) for a company’s purpose and goals. In the digital context, the behaviours that create DAC are different to those we have previously associated with effective leadership. To support successful digital transformation, we can focus on 9 key areas of leadership development:
Future seeker – showing constant curiosity and searching for meaning in future digital trends; using this knowledge to redefine one’s business or work
Digital Shaper – using digital and analytics to improve decision-making and create new capabilities or growth opportunities
Customer Ambassador – focusing on understanding the customer and using these insights to guide actions or decisions
Ecosystem Builder – creating a dynamic, multi-disciplinary environment to build the right innovation partnerships inside and outside the organisation
Transformer – Defining and designing processes and roles to support innovation and transformation
Accelerator – Encouraging agile approaches and rapid prototyping to fast-track ideas to accelerate digital strategy execution
Talent Maker – Focusing on building diverse talent to develop the next generation of digital leaders
Culture Catalyst – Understanding and promoting digital values as well as the purpose and use of digital to shift the culture
Influencer – Engaging digital methods to connect with others, build trust and develop confidence around a digital future
Developing digital leaders in these areas requires a new approach – often typified by bespoke learning experiences which are linked to meaningful business challenges.
As a result, leaders should be in a position to articulate a compelling vision and tactical strategy to embed new ways of working across the organisation. They should understand the right approach to engage with customers and how to leverage their organisation’s full capabilities to create products and services for innovative client experiences.
Internally, leaders must understand and scale ‘agile’ practice, using the right structures, processes, and technologies to accelerate change. And finally, leaders must be able to use digitalisation and innovation to inspire their teams to achieve a collaborative vision.
Our views of both leadership and learning have changed and attending to these elements is critical for long-term success.
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