Article: Building leaders with a digital mindset

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Building leaders with a digital mindset

In a world where artificial intelligence and automation is taking the world of work by storm, heres a look at a few necessary leadership traits in the digital age
Building leaders with a digital mindset

We are living in an era where every moment introduces us to a new technology (like artificial intelligence, cloud) new disruption and new experience. Companies like Uber, Ola, Airbnb and Amazon have completely changed the way how businesses are being operated digitally. These new business models have created a kind of unrest among leaders all over and they are under constant pressure to adapt to the changes or risk getting left behind. In a tweet chat People Matters conducted in partnership with Spire Technologies on building mindsets in the age of AI, there were a number of concerns that the community highlighted including fears of impact, capability, and transparency. In this article, we tackle one such component, leadership capability. The latest Management Agenda survey from leadership institute Roffey Park found that two in five respondents feel that the biggest organizational challenge they will face over the next five years is dealing with disruptions at work brought about by technology. A Majority of leaders predicted that in the future their organization would need to either develop or recruit leaders with fresh leadership skills who are more digitally inclined. 

Earlier, leaders’ capability were mostly gauged by their ‘intelligence and emotional quotients’ but new digital technologies like cloud, big data analytics, mobility and social networks, are making it compulsory for the leaders to possess a completely new set of skills. McKinsey has in fact developed a simple metric called as ‘Digital Quotient’ to measure the digital maturity of organizations. However, along with the skills, a fresh ‘mindset’ is required to embrace and drive digital transformation. The leader’s mindset in its simplest form is nothing but a way of thinking, a set of beliefs which guides them to take certain actions. 

This new digital age calls for a new dimension of leadership- ‘Digital Mindset’.  Let’s delve into some of the key traits of the leaders with a ‘digital mindset’:

Capacity to understand technology: Leaders with digital mindset possess the ability to visualize the big picture when it comes to technology and they chalk out future course of actions. These leaders are quick to understand, analyze and predict the impact of technology on their business outcomes and take no time to address the demands. Though there are a number of technologies available in the environment, these leaders show extreme focus while selecting and mastering the digital lever most conducive for their organization.

Build expert connections: Here the leaders are not afraid of exploring unknown territories of the VUCA world. They are extremely adaptive and don’t get fazed by the ambiguities and uncertainties of the digital world rather they face it with grit and valor. They accept their limitations and challenges and build their own reliable network of experts to navigate through the unknowns. 

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Invest in research and innovate: Leaders with digital mindset are also known for their risk taking abilities to completely transform the game. Leaders like Elon Musk (co-founder Paypal, Solar City), Richard Branson (founder of Virgin), Drew Houston(founder Dropbox) are some of the great examples of digital leadership where leaders took huge risks to turn around the tables. Such leaders encourage experimentation and innovation at every level, by investing considerably in R&D and by providing necessary support and resources to their teams. Their resilience is noteworthy and they don’t succumb to failures easily.

Build ‘Digital Talent’: Being visionaries, such leaders understand the importance of managing ‘digital talent’ in the organization and thus place immense importance on the ‘talent management processes and practices’. They tweak their hiring processes to select the best of digital talents and develop them to address the future challenges.

Considering the fact that the world of work is increasingly becoming digital, organizations need leaders who bring fresh perspectives, norms, values and behaviors. A study by Capgemini Consulting and the MIT center for Digital Business, examining more than 400 companies worldwide found out that digital leaders are a key factor in any company’s success because they understand which technological innovation to adopt at the right time which will yield the maximum returns for the entire organization.

Topics: Talent Science, Leadership Development, Leadership

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