What is a digital leader? My promise as a digital leader

Leadership, to me, is a process of social influence where a person can encourage the help and support of others to maximize their effort in order to accomplish a common goal, hopefully one that is in line with their business objectives. As far as digital leadership goes, it can be described as establishing a clear direction, influencing others and initiating sustainable change through the access of information, technology and digital tactics. It requires a dynamic combination of mindset, behaviors, strategy and skills that are employed to change and/or enhance business culture through the assistance of digital channels. Digital leadership is not about flashy tools or the latest trends but instead is about having a strategic mindset that uses the available resources to improve the business, while anticipating the changes needed to create a business culture focused on growth and achievement.

In today’s age, digital leaders can have a variety of different job titles, like digital strategist, digital manager or director. It doesn’t matter what the job title is, but the actions and characteristics are what are important. An effective digital leader is always aware of corporate goals and knows how their own job responsibilities support them. Digital leaders are focused on exploring how information technology can be used to help an organization become more responsive to their customer needs and ever-changing business requirements.

Successful digital leaders understand how important it is to analyze inbound data and the processes within the company that support it. This includes all the factors outside of the organization that can have an effect on the various environments in which it participates in.

Organizations that value digital leadership often place value on communication, creativity and an openness and willingness to explore new ways that technology and digital information can be used to successfully address business projects, internal projects and key performance indicators. With effective digital leadership, an organization is able to create workflow and business processes that allow new applications, products and services, while at the same time maintaining legacy applications and marketing operations at optimal levels.

Over the years of working in digital, some key traits of a great digital leader that I have found are:

  • Regularly developing new capabilities
  • Willingness to experiment
  • Understanding how technology is transforming society, and translating that into business impact
  • Promoting collaborative environments
  • Using information, not just the technology
According to Prof. Zamor, “Digital leaders need to understand the shifts (behavioral, economic, social) that new technology drivers are creating: like mobile, social networks, cloud, big data. Leaders must then translate these key fundamental shifts into business impacts at the industry, organization and individual levels.”

During the last ten years of working in digital, I have acquired an understanding of how to transform big data into decisions that improve business performance. But, at the same time, I have learned how to use it to boost individual performance of my team and co-workers.

Digital leadership is less about a single person and more about bringing together a team of power, skill and vision that can collectively start a wave of digital transformation.

As a digital leader, one of the ways I influence digital change is to find the inspirers, believers and people willing to have a go and test new things. These are the people who already have the mindset of change and are in a position to embrace digital. These people are those who will generate your initial quick wins and spread good news stories. These people will create momentum to help keep moving the transformational process along. Don’t forget them; go out and find them as one of your first key steps because this is your first group of advocates.

To be a digital leader you need to not only be aware of each discipline touched by digital within your organization but also excel and set an example to the whole organization.

Digital leaders can be the people within your own organization. These are the ones who are driving major change and who can prove with data points that digital transformation not only benefits the company, but also that it will provide amazing customer experiences and create loyalty and drive revenue.

Digital leadership breaks down barriers and penetrates silos, leading to a greater degree of corporate integration and collaboration across the organization.

While some key performance indicators such as bounce rate or click rate are operationally important, your contribution to add business value will be determined by the extent to which you align your KPIs with those of the CEO. -

I aim to employ strong digital and leadership capabilities to get closer to my customers and empower my co-workers and improve our business process. I rely on data to drive my insights. I integrate data and advanced analytics to make better decisions, improve the quality of my customers’ experiences and create a great competitive advantage.

Digital Leaders need to be the catalysts for change.