Digital leadership is a natural development of our super-connected society.

Why does digital leadership matter?

By now we can grapple with how much communication has changed since the advent of the internet. It almost feels like everybody is connected all of the time no matter where they are. But what isn’t given as much thought is how this super-connected environment affects the way we lead.

Digital technologies have significantly influenced our world on a social and cultural level.

Defining digital leadership

The term digital leadership is making its presence felt in both academic and professional circles. But what is it really?

We could look at technology buying expert TechTarget’s description, as a strategic approach to management concerning the effectiveness and efficiency of an organisations’s use of digital assets. That’s a mouthful, but don’t worry, it is really a lot more simple than this. Digital leadership is basically about leading in an age where more organisations are becoming reliant on the internet as an increasing number of everyday business operations go online.

TechTarget outlines three skills leaders need to succeed in this digital environment:

  • Knowledge of technology
  • Communication proficiency
  • Socio-cultural awareness

The key to unlocking your potential is thus understanding how digital technologies have significantly influenced our world on a social and cultural level. Having a solid understanding of this is the first and most important step en route to becoming a successful digital leader.

Digital teams work differently to regular group work.Digital teams work differently to regular group work.

Becoming a great leader in unfamiliar territory

We all know that a good leader is not afraid of change. In fact, great leaders embrace the unknown. As the rate companies transition to digital solutions speeds up, this is ever so true today.

Ernst & Young’s (EY) Global Technology Center and Global Media & Entertainment Center explored digital leadership in 550 companies in 2014. The researchers actually found out how effective leadership can be developed in this new environment. According to EY, the four requirements to lead well are the abilities to:

  • Think outside the box to slowly and seamlessly make changes
  • Accept that there will be risks in new technologies
  • Make use of the detailed data recorded by digital tools
  • Learn how to manage relationships through technology

But it isn’t just the leader that needs to do this – it needs to be an organisation-wide commitment. But you must set the vision for the future and rally others to embrace the change.

“I don’t think the challenge is an intellectual one of knowing which disruption is coming,” Chairman of Bloomberg Nadir Mohamed explained to McKinsey Quarterly. “The challenge is how you get the organization to embrace the looming change.”

To inspire your workforce, you need to take on this challenge with a glass-half-full attitude and reframe what is difficult as opportunity. There are amazing possibilities, but there are new mindsets, new hurdles, and new frontiers to tackle. So to feel more confident leading through change, develop your skills with the Institute for Communication Management and Leadership.


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