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Gary Berney

Gary Berney

17th Aug 2023

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What does it take to be a Digital Leader? (clue: it’s not about working in IT)

In the dynamic landscape of today’s business world, being a digital leader is not confined to the realm of information technology. It’s not about mastering complex code or being a software guru. Instead, it’s about embracing a strategic mindset that leverages digital technologies to propel your organisation forward, ensuring its competitiveness and relevance in the present and the future. Welcome to the realm of digital leadership, where the ability to navigate the digital landscape goes beyond technical prowess – it’s about leading your organisation through digital transformation and gaining from disruption.

What is Digital Transformation?

The misconception that a digital leader must be entrenched in the IT department has been debunked. Digital transformation encompasses a broader perspective that extends across departments and functions. It’s about recognising the potential of digital technologies to boost performance efficiency, revolutionise industries, expedite time-to-market, and amplify customer acquisition and retention rates.

In essence, leading digital transformation involves infusing your organisation’s strategy with a digital lens. This means carefully selecting and integrating the right technologies, effectively conveying the advantages of these technologies to both employees and customers, and pinpointing areas that hold promise for growth while acknowledging challenges. Understanding the four different types of digital transformation (process, business model, domain, cultural/organisational), is vital as you undergo the journey of overhauling your processes, operations and relationship with customers.

What skills do you need to become a Digital Leader?

As a digital leader, you hone the art of posing the right questions to refine processes and expedite the realisation of your organisation’s strategic goals. Rather than in-depth technical expertise, your focus shifts to exploring how technology can be harnessed to attain desired outcomes more swiftly and seamlessly. Effective communication and collaboration skills, along with adaptability and a proactive approach to change, are necessary traits to anticipate and respond to evolving industry dynamics and foster a culture of innovation.

Additionally, a digital leader should possess strong problem-solving skills, a strategic mindset, and the ability to envision and execute digital transformation initiatives that align with organisational goals. Embracing a continuous learning mindset is also vital in staying abreast of technological advancements and ensuring sustained leadership in the digital realm.

What is Digital Disruption?

Innovative technologies can fundamentally change the way products or services are produced, delivered or consumed, which often has a transformative effect on traditional business models, industries, and markets. There are many causes of digital disruption, but the impact is usually the same. Be it Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, IoT, Big Data, or any disruptive technological advancement that enables new ways of doing business, those who fail to adapt to these changes risk losing market share and competitiveness – if not seeing their business model rendered obsolete.

However, a digital leader possesses an acute awareness of potential disruption points. Recognising that every industry is undergoing perpetual disruption, digital leaders are adept at dissecting digital trends, distinguishing opportunities from threats, and seizing the initiative to navigate these changes effectively in order to gain from digital disruption and disorder.

In light of this, shouldn’t every individual in a leadership role strive to be a digital leader? In an era where technology is omnipresent and continually growing in influence, the answer is a resounding “yes.” This realisation is what drives the success of our Diploma in Digital Leadership and our short programme and microcredential, Digital Disruption and Transformation. In order to ensure their trajectory is one of prominence and success, aspiring business leaders can’t afford to overlook the significance of becoming digital leaders, capable of leading digital transformation and gaining from disruption.

What are the characteristics of a Digital Leader?

The heart of digital leadership lies not in being a tech savant, but in being a visionary who understands the symbiosis of technology and strategy. It’s about being the captain who skillfully steers the ship through the digital waves, with an eye on uncharted territories and transformative opportunities. In a world where change is constant, the journey to becoming a digital leader is not an isolated one; it’s a collective endeavour that empowers organisations to embrace the digital age with open arms and emerge as trailblazers.

The essence of digital leadership transcends the confines of IT expertise. It involves weaving digital acumen into the fabric of an organisation’s strategy, fostering innovation, and navigating the digital landscape with confidence. While technology remains a driving force, the true hallmark of a digital leader is the ability to see beyond the ones and zeros, envisioning a future where businesses flourish in the digital realm.


Digital Disruption and Transformation starts on 24rd January 2024. Book your place here.

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