You may not know the name for it, but you’re aware of how digital technology is dramatically changing the face of every industry. Some in a quite dramatic way.
Take the music industry, for example. In the last 25 years, the music industry went from major labels like Sony selling vinyl record albums, then CDs, in brick-and-mortar stores to now selling digital music straight to consumers via smartphones. In recent years, the retail industry has been rattled by the giant wave of store closings due to the shift to online shopping.
This type of “digital disruption” is affecting all industries and it’s a matter of whether you ‒ and your company ‒ are prepared for the transformation.
What has also changed dramatically in the last several years is how companies now are looking toward a different kind of leader ‒ someone who is willing to embrace the new technologies. As companies make the dramatic shift from their long-established ways of doing business to plunging head-on into the unknown digital world, today’s leaders need to be ready.
Are you embracing every new technology? Rest assured, most aren’t, according to new studies:
- A small number (15%) of leaders said that they were “very prepared” to meet the demands of a digitally-disrupted business environment, in a new report, Redefining Leadership in a Digital Age
- Less than 20% of leaders say digital technologies (analytics, mobile, social media, etc.) are fully integrated into their companies, from the same report
- Only 5% of companies feel they have strong digital leaders in place, according to a 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey
By making a few necessary adjustments to your leadership approach, you can learn your way around this new digital world, as your company becomes disrupted by the new technologies.
4 Must-Have Leadership Traits in the Age of Digital Disruption
As a leader, you can help guide your company through the new digital era by focusing on a few “must-HAVE” competencies that have been identified by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation:
Humble: “I accept that others know more than I do”
Being humble means learning to accept and welcome the knowledge of your team. In an age of rapid change, a leader must accept the fact that she cannot know everything needed to make an informed decision.
It’s important to seek out diverse opinions from people who have knowledge that you do not have and encourage your team to coach you in new technologies, if needed. A leader must also have the ability to “step back and embrace other people’s ideas when they’re better,” says Lazlo Bock, author of Work Rules!
Adaptable: “Changing my mind is a strength, not a weakness”
The ability to adapt is critical in a constantly changing environment. It’s key to be open to new ideas, to change your opinion when convinced of the need and to successfully communicate that revised opinion to your team and to customers.
“You have to be able to say, ‘Okay, yesterday, I said left and today, based on this, we are going right’,” said Lothar Raif, head of banking support, Credit Suisse. “It has to not be a weakness for you. It is a necessity of the environment of today.”
Visionary: “I have a clear vision, as opposed to a detailed plan”
Even if you don’t have a specific long-term plan, come up with a vision where your company is headed in the next few years. By using that vision to motivate and inspire your team, while at the same time adapting rapidly to changing business situations, you can stay focused on what you are trying to achieve. And you can look to technology to help you achieve your vision.
Engaged: “I always have a willingness to listen”
Leaders have to be in listening mode all the time, whether it’s to your employees’ concerns and ideas or to your customers’ worries and requests. What you know today may be irrelevant tomorrow. Since leaders spend huge amounts of time interacting with the outside world, being engaged is how you can stay as up to date as possible.
So, the quicker you can rewire your brain for the never-ending digital journey, the quicker your people will embrace it and the bolder your leadership will be. Why? Because with more technology comes more data to help you make quicker, better, more informed decisions ‒ no small feat for top leaders.