Digitalisation is everywhere and cross-industry automation has well and truly become a matter of fact not (science) fiction. These technology-driven phenomena continue to evolve at lightning speed, meaning organisations don’t have the luxury of considering impacts and embracing opportunities at their leisure – it’s literally a case of move fast or get left behind.

In this context, it stands to reason that leadership has never been in greater demand or subject to more scrutiny. Businesses need those in positions of power to not just ask the right questions and make the right decisions, but to understand the game. If they don’t ‘get’ digital, the reasons for its pervasiveness or the promise it holds, then they will inevitably be reading from an out-of-date rule book.

Digitalisation is challenging for all, but especially for leaders. Not only do they require a new mindset and new skills, grounded in the fundamental need for industries and individuals to innovate and learn, but they need to manage rules of engagement which are often not just novel but increasingly complex.

So, what are some of the traits, skills and approaches we need our leaders to exhibit if we’re to navigate the exciting but disruptive influence of technology on today’s digital business environment?

Visionary and strategic

In the face of well-embedded business models and short-term uncertainty, leaders need to be prepared to apply a visionary and holistic lens to how the technology in and around their organisation can best be activated.

Yes, they require a solid understanding of the tech itself, plus access to data which can inform high-velocity, evidence-based decisions, but there also needs to be a clear strategy informing long-term direction. This should transcend devices and ground level ops to consider purpose, process and culture, as well as when not to default to technology just because it’s available. This is future-proofing.

Collaborative and trustworthy

Businesses don’t just need to believe in the power of a creativity and collaboration to bring about innovation, they actually need to curate and sustain positive working environments for on and offline ideation, refinement and sharing.

Successful leadership is that which empowers people to bring their own expertise, experience and unique perspective to the table, and facilitates access to this for other individuals and teams. It engages not just the brain but the heart, by listening to workers with empathy as they articulate their pain points and then providing them with the technical tools, human support and direction they need to do their best work. Crucially, it relies on trusting them to succeed, which means relinquishing control but never responsibility.

Customer-centric and community-minded

Leaders who are able to look at their organisations from the outside in rather than the opposite will be best placed to provide the kinds of valuable products, services and experiences which attract new customers. They’ll also know the power of creating and connecting highly engaged communities around a theme or purpose which they believe in.

Using technology to embolden tribes in remarkable and unexpected ways is what turns audiences into advocates, enhancing lifetime value and providing an ownable, inspirational and protective business asset to boot.

Hyperaware and humble

Digital-age leaders need to be constantly acquiring and assessing new knowledge on potential opportunities and threats, from both internal and external environments. With an innate curiosity, a willingness to listen, and the self-awareness to know that they can’t be an expert on everything, all the time, they are primed to uncover emerging trends, identify areas for continuous improvement and move quickly (even if that means embracing imperfection).

Regardless of whether insight comes via thought-leaders, partners, research programs or the people of a business itself, those steering the ship will be expert at framing, sharing and communicating new avenues for exploration, and how to connect the right people and platforms to act upon them.

At ASTRA Institute of Higher Education we’re empowering tomorrow’s business leaders through technology and transformative learning experiences, tailored to you. In-person or online, ASTRA is committed to delivering truly valuable, forward-thinking programs to enquiring minds everywhere. Connect with us today to start your journey.