Leadership in the Digital Era

Dominating a Digital World: What the Devil is Digital Leadership ...

Digital transformation is becoming a reality in many organizations. I can tell you that my current organization has been going through the digital transformation journey for the last 5 years and inside our organization its not a buzzword anymore,  it is considered a mandatory process that all of us are too familiar with. Companies that stay ahead of this digital revolution will be the ones that capture higher profits and market share.

Rest assured we all need a new kind of “digital leader” at the helm, capable of driving this kind of transformation. As Zettlemeyer says (2019) ‘you have to think about the generation of data as a strategic imperative data science, which has become an essential business tool’. Nevertheless, many business leaders, overwhelmed by this constant blizzard of metrics, are hesitant to get involved in what they see as a technical process. For me the realization that I have come to when I posted the first blog about leadership to my last blog on this topic is that this shift to a digital-first mindset demands, new ways of structuring teams and approaching leadership.

Cultivating growth mindset demands openness to learning, development and using new technological platforms needs to become a norm rather than the exception. Sheninger (2019) posits that ‘the focus needs to change given the digital transformation era, leading in a way which supports the status quo’. (para.  4). Prioritizing communication and influence are paramount to integrate teams. Some companies are moving away from hierarchical structures which reduces the impact of the manager/direct report relationship. Distributed teams are becoming the reality of today’s work environment which mean that it may not even be possible to gather everyone in the same physical location for meetings.

I reckon embracing change can mean adopting new technology. Weiner (2009) highlights the role of individual and organizational readiness level in leading change. Leaders will have to create and show the way forward amid transitions, disruptions, chaos and ambiguity. Khan (2017), expresses that ‘adaptive  leadership allows institutions to properly plan for change and consider many factors affecting the complex nature of the leadership relationship’. (p.  2). To Khan’s (2017) point of change and complexed environment, driving the adoption of disruptive technologies like cloud, mobile, and analytics are becoming almost every CIO’s mandate.

Additionally, cross-functional teaming skills are a very desirable skill for the leaders and the teams he/she builds. According to Hatfield & Roesch (2018), a recent report by Deloitte Digital and MIT Sloan states that ‘this social phenomena is playing out across digitally mature businesses, 70 percent of which are using cross-functional teams to organize work, compared to less than 30 percent for early-stage organizations’. (para.  5). In conclusion I see that there is definitely a need to cultivate innovative and empathetic and adaptive leadership traits to create a culture of learning, failures and experiments because they lead to inventions and innovations.


Hatfield, S & Roesch, A. (August 22. 2018).[Blog post]. New priorities for leadership in the new world of work. Retrieved from: https://capitalhblog.deloitte.com/2018/08/22/new-priorities-for-leadership-in-the-new-world-of-work/#more-6452

Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or Transactional Leadership in Current Higher Education: A Brief Comparison. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3).

Sheninger, E. (2014). Pillars of digital leadership. International Centre for Leadership in Education.

Weiner, B.J.  A theory of organizational readiness for change.  Implementation Sci 4, 67 (2009).  https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67

Zettelmeyer, F. (2015). A leader’s guide to data analytics. KelloggInsight.