What are the qualities of a leader in the digital age, what tools should you use and how should you apply them to achieve your goals? New technologies are driving a new leadership model on which the long-awaited digital transformation of companies depends to a large extent.
Transforming leadership in the digital age
What is leadership and how has it changed in the digital age?
Leadership is the set of managerial or directive skills that an individual has to influence the way of being or acting of people or a given work group, making this team work with enthusiasm towards the achievement of its goals and objectives.
However, leadership in business is intimately related to the social and economic context and, in recent years, this ecosystem has changed substantially with the entry of new technologies and the changes they drive both in society and in companies. The digital transformation implies a change of mentality which, of course, also affects leadership styles and which will mark what, right now, are the qualities of a leader.
Changes driving leadership in the digital age
New technologies have changed company structures, organisation and working environments, teams and with it, have driven a new leadership model that adapts to this new digital environment. What are the changes that drive this new style of leadership in the digital era?
- More horizontal structures: Leadership in the digital era is based on managing and directing a new structure in the organisation of companies. Organisation and decision-making is no longer vertical and, supported by new technologies, is increasingly horizontal and participative.
- Relocation of teams: Work teams have nothing to do with those of just a decade ago. The company is no longer the epicentre of employees’ and management teams’ lives. Leadership in the digital age requires effective management of this situation of the flow of communication that is generated for the organisation of any task.
- New production processes: New technologies have brought about a major change in the production processes of companies and this circumstance requires new knowledge and new leadership in organisations.
- A new global market: One of the most profound changes that has substantially modified the concept of leadership is the concept of a global market, without restrictions of time, place or channels, which has forced a major rethinking of skills and functions when leading a company in the digital era.
- New business models: ICTs have led to the emergence of a new business model, with structures, financing and objectives that are totally different from what was until now a traditional business plan: more and more “traditional” companies are taking note of the organisation and models of start-ups.
- A new customer to target: As a result of all these changes and the possibilities offered by new technologies, a new type of customer has emerged: the online consumer whose purchasing habits and behaviour require a change in the leadership of companies to meet the great challenge of building loyalty with the digital customer.
- New tools and channels: which substantially modify all the processes and organisation of companies and which open up a model of internal and external communication that substantially condition the skills of this leadership model in the digital era.
Qualities of a leader in the digital age
What skills does a good leader need to have to drive and anchor the digital transformation process in a new company? What are the qualities of a leader in the digital era and what training should they have? These are some of the keys to being a good leader in the digital environment:
- Change management: This is undoubtedly one of the most important keys in the list of qualities of a leader in the digital era. A good leader must be clear that, in the current context, everything is subject to permanent change. Nothing is permanent: trends, teams, company structures, marketing plans, skills… Success lies in knowing that this change is real, inevitable and that adapting to it is fundamental.
- The human factor and teamwork: A good leader must know, above all, how to manage the human factor in his or her team. We are talking about horizontal leadership that affects such important aspects as motivation and communication. All of this in an increasingly delocalised work context, but in which, curiously, teamwork and collaborative tools and platforms are essential.
- Strategic vision and data analysis: Data has become the fundamental element for any company in the digital environment. Knowing this data and knowing how to interpret it in order to draw up a strategy or anticipate a trend are indispensable qualities for a leader in the digital era. It is not just knowing how to use the tools, but knowing what to do with the information they report.
- Constant experimentation: Startups have introduced a new business model that has as one of its pillars permanent research and experimentation to offer the customer what they really need. Among the qualities of a leader in the digital era, the search for new solutions and trial and error processes are indispensable for learning to live with change.
- Knowledge of the customer: Of their tastes, their preferences and exactly what they expect from the company thanks to the use and interpretation of the data and opinions they report on the communication channels with the brand on social networks. Active listening is an essential requirement in this list of qualities of a leader who, above all, must put themselves in the shoes of the user of their brand.
- Commitment to ongoing training: A good leader is committed to constant training for themselves and their work team. Acquiring new skills and abilities anticipates new business scenarios, is committed to disruptive thinking and allows competencies to be delegated, which influences the motivation of the teams.
- Information is the key: To know everything that is happening in your sector, in your business or with your clients. It is not a question of collecting information and being permanently connected, but of knowing how to identify the channels, opinions and influences that are going to mark the way in the immediate future.
- The search for talent: Among the qualities of a leader in the digital era, the management and attraction of digital talent are indispensable requirements for the survival of the company.
- Inspiration from success stories: More and more companies or models are revolutionising the market with new solutions and new ways of doing business. Learning from leadership success stories and knowing how to adapt them to one’s own company is a commitment to an open and receptive leadership model.
- Innovation as a driver of change: A good leader in the digital era must have the firm conviction that innovation and a commitment to new technologies are the drivers of change and that he or she must rely on them to achieve success in their objectives.