This is part 3 of a 4-part series on Business Transformation.
Strong leadership is, and always has been, a critical success factor in achieving strategic objectives. The workforce needs a defined vision and the direction to execute that vision, from a leader with the proper experience, expertise, and ability. This is especially applicable in the “digital frontier”. In the previous two installments of this blog series, we focused on the importance of people when approaching a digital transformation. However, the leader plays an equally (if not more) critical role in reaching the organization’s goals when it comes to digital change.
Launching and executing a digital transformation presents a tremendous opportunity for the modern leader to redefine an industry, marketplace, enterprise, team, and own skill set. Because a true digital transformation is a team effort and requires transformation across the enterprise, an effective digital leader must drive the change effort, impacting the company’s strategy, culture, systems, structure, processes and people.
Many business leaders contemplate, assess, and launch into the digital frontier, knowing that it is critical to seize opportunities and drive the digital enablement of their businesses, or else fall behind the curve.
Are you a digital leader?
The good news is that as a leader, you already have what you need to effectively lead your organization, and can now capitalize on those resources to implement and execute digital initiatives. Are you ready to be the leader of digital change? Consider the following essential attributes of an effective pioneer in this space:
Vision, Competitiveness & Action
You develop the vision of your company’s strategic direction and define your digital journey. You take input from many sources and share your vision widely to mobilize people to action. You bring people onboard and ensure that the focus on the digital effort is ingrained in the company’s culture, reaching deep into all levels within the enterprise.
You are leading the exploration into the unknown. You are forward-thinking, while keeping a pulse on the current state. You leverage the forces within your ecosystem, including regulation, customers, suppliers, talent, competitors, shifts that are happening, and of course, innovation and technology. You are alert to the tipping points and exert influence to nudge at least one of the tipping points in your favor. You look outside, then transform not only your own company, but your industry, by offering customers what they want in the way they want it. You may even have a sense of what customers want before they are even aware of it. You see what others cannot yet see and lead your organization to seize digital opportunities.
Communicate & Connect
You claim a role for your organization in the ecosystem, and the stakeholders are aware of your significance in the market. You inform to educate, for example, by exposing digital opportunities and threats, and develop the digital savviness of the Board of Directors and the Executive Team. You are connected to your customers, partners, suppliers, employees, and even your competitors. Your staff understands your digital vision and strategy, and they are empowered and rewarded for contributing. You attract, inspire, motivate, and retain talented, high-performing people.
You demonstrate the ability to shift to a new way of thinking and working. You adopt and transform your company to think digitally. You not only embrace ambiguity, you conquer it by providing the guiding light and options to move forward. As an adventurer, you are mindful of risks and how to effectively mitigate them. You realize that inaction is one of the most significant risks in the digital world. You do not hesitate to start before you have all the answers.
You have an open mind and you experiment, fostering a culture of openness around you. You are digitally savvy, using analytics to inform your decisions and plans. You enable the agile, fail-fast culture to prototype, test the market, learn, and iterate, minimizing lengthy and expensive projects that do not yield value. You know that today’s competition may be tomorrow’s partner, and you hone your organization’s abilities to collaborate and act as strong ambassadors. You actively solicit ideas.
Leading by Example & Focus
You prepare your organization for the changes that lie ahead. You exemplify the leadership behaviors needed to lead digital transformation. You continue to learn and explore, demonstrating that continuous learning is essential to surviving in today’s business terrain. You remain focused on the outcome, which is to fulfill a customer want or need, but in a better, safer, more efficient way.
The time is now.
Many believe we are at the onset of the fourth industrial revolution, making this an exciting time for the business community and leaders. The pace of change is accelerating, and the business landscape will be quite different in just a few years, if not sooner. Your role as a leader of significant and transformative change is, therefore, more important than ever. The digital frontier presents tremendous expanded scope for leaders. Your transformation leadership is critical to leading your industry and ecosystem of many stakeholders. Companies are already putting their stakes in your marketplace. The time is now to seize the opportunities and strengthen your position in the digital frontier.
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