Leadership 4.0 – Managing and leading in the Digital Age

As we near the end of 2017, I would like to share my thoughts on the topic of Leadership. There has been the impact of digitization on work and skills this year. The nature of work is changing as information and data become the new currency, and talent and ideas become the new form of capital. Skills such as AI, data analytics, 3D printing, and Design Thinking will be the new capabilities.

How do we, as leaders, manage diverse teams and equip our employees with these types of capabilities while leading the digital transformation in our workplace? How can we develop innovative and adaptive thinking skills in our employees while harnessing social intelligence?

Digital Leaders play a critical role in paving the way for digital transformation as they work with key stakeholders in deciding, designing and delivering the digital organization. Here are my thoughts on the 5 key leadership capabilities for leading digital transformation in the workplace.

1. Possessing A Visionary Mindset & Change Management Capability
How do leaders lead and manage change in the digital age? They need to have a good understanding of the digital market and a visionary mindset to manage digital disruption. This includes setting a vision for the future and championing and promoting buy-in for change by listening to the views of their teams and working alongside them in the change process. Employees want to see that their leader’s vision is based on a deep sense of what is necessary, right, and good for the business. A good leader is able to envision a possible future that responds to the changes in the environment and craft out plans and strategies that aligns with their team members’ aspirations. This is necessary to achieve individual and collective success.

2. Developing The Skills To Manage Multi-Disciplinary Teams
The ability to bring together diverse capabilities to form teams able to solve complex problems or work on a new solution is a crucial skill for digital leaders. This will require the leader to assemble people that have deep functional expertise while capturing enough breadth to cover the scope of the project at hand. After assembling such teams, they will need to foster deep collaboration within the team to deliver performance. In essence, leaders need to think like designers and use the concept of Design Thinking to work with their multi-disciplinary teams to skilfully harness ideas, develop prototypes and solutions in the area of a product, service or a system. Skills in Design Thinking include being a good facilitator and mediator, challenging and trusting design teams to come up with innovative solutions, stimulating learning and exploration, and fostering a creative atmosphere for success.

3. Managing & Communicating In Different Media Forms
Due to the advent of the digital age and permeation of social media, leaders need to learn how to use different digital platforms to engage with the workforce. He or She is hyper-connected and provides real-time interactive feedback and coaching to their team members who are used to and interacting through new technologies and social networks. This is especially true of the Millennial workforce who will form the main bulk of our teams in the years to come.

4. Developing Computational Thinking Capabilities Within Teams
Leaders need to cultivate data talent, and develop a plan to build, buy, develop or partner to improve data and automation know-how. This includes creating a people strategy to plan transition and training employees to ensure that their skills are kept up to date. Digital Skills Training can be done through developing and promoting an environment of continuous learning through the use of technological tools, apps, and other digital platforms. Good digital leaders themselves are also able to make quick, analytics-based decisions and develop the right team in place to deliver key analytics-driven insights when needed.

5. Harnessing Innovative & Adaptive Thinking In The Workforce
Recent research done by Cognizant found out that innovative leaders manage risk, demonstrate curiosity, lead courageously, seize opportunities and maintain a strategic business perspective. They encourage experimentation and the development of ideas in their team so as to foster an innovative and adaptive workforce. Good leaders also provide a degree of direction to employees by removing barriers to progress and enabling them to succeed.

If you need more advice, an article which I find relevant to this topic is “Design Thinking & HR Technology”. Have a read and feel free to leave your comments here, send me an email or InMail. Visit my LinkedIn profile page or website for more articles.

I wish you success in your journey to be a digital leader. The 4th Industrial revolution or the connected revolution is here! A digital transformation where everybody and everything networked, sharing and processing information as a “Huge Brain” Exciting times are ahead!

Here’s wishing you a Happy 2018 and a wonderful journey as a “Digital Leader”


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Dr. Jaclyn Lee

Dr. Jaclyn Lee, PhD and IHRP-MP