How do we move a mature business into the Digital Age of agility & flexibility?
In the current environment mature businesses face new and difficult challenges that require adaptability at the speed equal to the speed of technological advancement in its’ industry. To be successful, strategies need to be implemented with greater efficiency and effectiveness, that increases customer focus and responsiveness. It requires a Digital Leader.

What is an Agile Organisation?
An Agile Organisation is one that is quick in responding to changes in the marketplace or environment. … A highly Agile organisation reacts successfully to the emergence of new competitors, rapid advancements in technology and sudden shifts in overall market conditions.

Agility and related words in a 3d render collage background, including modernize, improve, innovate, change, grow, adapt and surviveIn the digital age, with global access, a leader cannot supervise and manage like before. With technology-mediated work increasing, there is greater need and expectation for leaders to provide purpose and structure to move forward despite the numerous challenges of working virtually. They need to look beyond technical tools and processes and embark on their own transformational journey to become a Digital Leader.

So, what makes an effective Digital Leader?

  • Knowledge
    Digital leaders need to focus on constantly expanding their knowledge of emerging technologies and trends to prepare for the future. They must be open and eager learners, they need to keep up with and become part of the global revolution.
  • Champion for change
    Leaders need to be fearless in driving change, yet they must not lose sight of the driving force behind the change, focusing on the outcome of being more efficient and delivering higher quality work. They must walk the talk.

In a McKinsey debate, Nadir Mohamed, retired CEO of Rogers Communications, raises some of the challenges facing digital leaders:
“The challenge is how you get the organisation to embrace looming change…how do we set up capabilities to make change happen?” he says.

  • Fostering community and team work
    As business models evolve with technology, a more horizontal executive structure seems to be emerging. A few decades ago, leaders took on a more authoritarian role, and now need to focus on managing communities and fostering team work and a mindset of continuous improvement. Ensuring the vision and mission for the organisation is shared with the stakeholders to enable connectivity to the customers. Empowering the team to look for better ways of conducting business using technology and spotting opportunities. Finding the right team is crucial for leaders, according to Manfred Kets de Vries, professor at INSEAD.

“Hierarchy fails in the digital age because it’s slow and bureaucratic, whereas the new world is constantly changing and requires immediate responses” according to the World Economic Forum.

  • Humanness
    We must remember what it is to be human. While leaders need to immerse themselves in technology and change, they also must remember to stay available to team members. Face to face connectivity is an important aspect for engagement.

The Harvard Business Review points out that digital transformations will likely fail if team members are disengaged, and engaging teams, falls to the leader.
A Gallup study found that there are three key approaches to engaged teams:

1. Daily communication with managers
2. Leaders’ effort to get to know team members
3. Investment in personal development

While leaders of the digital age need to focus on extending knowledge and becoming more tech-savvy, they also need to embrace the more traditional human aspects of effective leadership: mastering the art of listening; understanding human behavior; and motivating, building and managing well-rounded teams.

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