Leadership - Nov 9, 2020

Digital transformation is the responsibility of managers – What makes a digital leader?

The right mix of digital skills and digital mindset, that’s what!

Digitalisation is not just changing business models and customer behaviour, but also the demands placed on business leaders. Now more than ever, we need decision-makers and coaches who drive and manage the digital transformation of their own companies—bona fide digital leaders. But self-appraisal and reality in companies are still at odds with each other—the will to progress with digitalisation also needs to be firmly rooted in both the heads and hearts of the responsible leaders and employees, as well as in the corporate culture.

written by

Head of Service Business Development

E-Mail: sven.heinsen@bechtle.com

For digital transformation to be a success, it requires leaders who have the courage to drive it forward, have a clear vision of the future and can steer the way towards it, but who are also in a position to manage complexities while motivating employees to overcome challenges. Alongside pushing strategic and interdepartmental digitalisation, a digital leader sees technological developments positively and also has a digital first mindset. They are dedicated to discovering more about next-generation IT and getting to grips with existing business processes and strategically developing new business models. Plus they see digitalisation as a chance to innovate, gain a competitive edge and create new customer experiences.  

An ideal digital leader sees the opportunities in a crisis. They influence digital transformation and oversee the necessary changes within the company, thinking strategically in new business models and implementing them even in difficult environments. 

Companies also need to create a digital leadership culture that brings a digital mindset to the fore. This is what makes the digital transformation such a Herculean task that impacts the corporate culture as a whole. Change is not simply a demand that needs to be managed. With the right culture, every single person drives change within the organisation. It all depends on the right way of thinking and the large, invisible part of the iceberg, where attitude, courage, ownership, leadership, trust and passion are all rooted. A digital leader and the company as a whole need all these to make sustainable progress in the seven central attributes that indicate a company’s readiness for a digital culture: type of collaboration, innovation, openness, digital first approach, agility, flexibility plus a customer-centric and data-drive approach. 

Against this backdrop, what is it that makes a digital leader? Their trust empowers their employees; they create an error culture that views failure as an opportunity to learn; they identify those who can and want to live this mindset; they should allow and even encourage disruption within the framework of systematic understanding, and generate followers within the company. Leadership is not limited to managers—being one is a challenge we all have to face. A digital leader dedicates every day to encouraging people to do something differently to secure the company’s future. As Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa said: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”.

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Published on Nov 9, 2020.