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Digital transformation: What you need in a leader – personality over job title

Peter Yates | June 29, 2016
This digital leadership position is critical in bringing those that are less digitally inclined along for the journey, writes Peter Yates of Spark Ventures.

In my article, Digital transformation isn't just about employing a CDO I discussed digital transformation and touched briefly on how important it was for any digital transformation to be led by the right person, be that a CIO, CMO, CDO or COO.

The aim of digital transformation is to drive continual improvements in services, products and experiences that your customers will love and actively promote. I want to continue the digital transformational theme but delve deeper in to the leadership side of a transformation as this will heavily influence the outcome of any change initiative, digital or otherwise. Get it wrong and it will be to the detriment of your customers.

Before any transformation can really be successful, your chosen digital transformation leader should possess a number key attributes, such as a visionary with a willingness to change the way an organisation operates whilst balancing the current and future needs as well as the ability to empower individuals/teams. Their ability to converse with all parts of the organisation in terms of customer outcomes rather than technology is also fundamental, that said being technology literate is also important.

Lack of a clear strategy, leadership and the inability to balance the "old and new worlds" as well as being unable to attract and retain talent will seriously inhibit any organisation's digital aspirations.

This digital leadership position is critical in bringing those that are less digitally inclined along for the journey, by being a visionary and story teller who can navigate through what is bound to be periods of uncertainty and fluidity.

Their role is to lead the business strategy, vision creation, execution and to give guidance, where they must empower and drive their teams to deliver on that strategy and vision rather than dictate.

Positively challenging the status quo is also essential, as is navigating the internal politics of an organisation to drive transformational change and to realign mind-sets to new digital way.

The appropriate culture and empowering of teams is key to attracting and retaining your people, whilst also providing a working environment that supports cross team working and collaboration.

Leaders must show true empathy and listen to their people and customers so they are able to identify the root cause of any problem, rather than going straight to a solution.

Critical to any transformation is the ability of the leader to get the company executive team on board and the organisation as a whole excited by their vision and strategy for the transformation. This will help bring teams and people along for the ride. Articulating the new digital world will also help your teams decide if they actually want to buy in to the transformation.

"On making people pay attention: 'You can have the best technology, you can have the best business model, but if the storytelling isn't amazing, it won't matter. Nobody will watch.''

Source:  CIO New Zealand


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