Through our work with leaders from a range of sectors and industries over the years, there has been one trend above all that top executives have been waking up to: the impact of digital transformation. Companies are recognising the necessity of moving their businesses online and, from free advertising to better prospects in sourcing – everyone is reaping the benefit. Like any new technological change there are pitfalls – but when weighed against stagnation all seem somewhat trivial. Regardless of how we perceive how the changes will affect us; we also know that to resist it would be nothing but pure folly. In that respect, we have to find new ways forward – and as a leader, I need to say that change must start at the top.
With this in mind, we have composed a list of the top five tips you should consider to keep you ahead in the modern digital world.
1. Forewarned is forearmed
Good leadership begins with knowledge. Education is more important now than it has ever been, so read lots and consistently learn. Being knowledgeable doesn't mean you need to be a technical expert, but you do need to watch what your peers are doing, keep up to date with trends in your industry and, where relevant, undertake training or coaching to keep your leadership skills up-to-date. Digital transformation in all its guises will require that you understand how to take advantage of the possibilities new technology can bring to you and your organisation. Knowing how to integrate these effectively with your team will be key.
2. Create a routine
As a leader you will be expected to have your finger on the pulse at all times, and be ready to respond quickly. The challenge with the rise in mobile and social media is your team, customers and shareholders are likely to want a piece of you when they want. Nowadays, not only can they contact you anytime but depending upon your social media habits, they can follow you everywhere too! This creates a 24/7 always-on cycle which can take its toll if you don't take control. So make sure you are clear on your availability, create a consistent routine, and take time out for mindfulness by creating space for yourself. There is no benefit to being burnt out, so giving priority to your mental health will ensure you can operate at your best for those around you.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
There are a ridiculous number of ways to communicate nowadays due to digital technologies; from messenger to chat, video to blogs, surveys to polls, email to live streaming. So there is no excuse for not communicating regularly as a leader, and that doesn't just mean one-way broadcasting, it means properly engaging with your teams - and customers. Have a clear plan for how, and when, you will communicate and create a clear routine for this. If you have an internal comms team, make them your best friend, and make time to articulate your vision for the organisation and gratitude for what they do, consistently and personably. You will be amazed what a difference it can make for company morale. Sometimes even just a quick chat at the desk of a colleague can make a world of difference to morale. So don't be a stranger and make time to engage.
4. Embrace innovation
Anybody can have an idea – not just you or your senior team. When integrated into the business, digital tools can make it much easier to get feedback from your staff - and customers - that could transform your organisation. Listening to feedback may well uncover some hidden gems within your workforce - especially around the use of new technologies or efficiencies. Always remember your staff and customers are the people on the ground who see your business at the coal face, so there is a good chance they will see the reality of the organisation, and are likely to have suggestions for improving it. Not every idea is going to be a great one, but some will shine through and could help you improve your product or service immeasurably.
5. Encourage staff to get involved
Your team aren't just your team; they are sons, daughters, best friends, sisters and brothers, so their reach goes way beyond their colleagues in the business - especially on social media. So encourage them to like, share or comment on online posts your company puts out there as this will increase your visibility, reputation, brand awareness, and company loyalty. Social media is a brilliant endorsement, even if you only have one member of staff! Encourage your team to share, and give them support to do so with clear guidelines and training too.
So consider taking these leadership lessons on board because they go far deeper than digital transformation, and can define every aspect of what you do in your leadership role. Having an open mind and continually learning is essential or as former President John F. Kennedy once said "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." - a statement which is truer today than it ever was.
If you would like to find out how we can support you with any of the topics raised in this blog post, please get in touch at email@example.com or call on 0800 0293739.