What makes a great leader in the digital world?

Today’s digital disruption is having the same impact on organisations as did the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th Centuries, where those who embraced new possibilities thrived, and those who didn’t lagged behind.

29th September 2017

Daryl Murray

History has a habit of repeating itself. In the words of Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture, speaking at the 2016 World Economic Forum:

“Digital is the main reason just over half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000.”

The accelerated pace of the “digital decades” has led to estimates that the scope of change seen in a single year now equates to that experienced in seven years during the pre-digital era.  A “digital leader” is not just one who leads a software house, or one who leads a gaming start-up.  Leaders of all organisations, whether those are tech-centric, start-ups or established for decades, face the challenge that digital enhancement is having on product, people and pace.


Leadership essentials in the digital world

Handling the rapid pace and increased cognitive demands of an “always on” business brings with it a wealth of challenges. To thrive in the digital world, organisational leaders need a diverse set of attributes.


Core leadership behaviours

Non-negotiable are the core behavioural requirements of successful leaders. These include:

  • Ability to be future-focused and plan for the long term, as well as deal with day-to-day business demands
  • Openness to new ideas
  • Effective networking
  • Capacity to make firm and timely decisions
  • Communicating in a way that impacts, influences, and gets their message across
  • Taking their people with them, by ensuring they buy into the organisation’s vision.

When exercising those leadership muscles, the key difference in the digital world is the impact of size, scale and speed.


The ‘digital leadership traits’ critical for success leading in this environment

  • Humility and awareness of the benefits of learning from more junior employees who are digital natives
  • Courage to take calculated risks
  • Alertness to the commercial, operational and strategic benefits that digital enablement brings
  • Creating an organisational culture that celebrates innovation and creativity
  • Making sense of data from a range of sources and using it to tell compelling stories
  • Embracing the benefits of a truly diverse employee pool.

As a result, there’s a shift in the cognitive requirements for leadership. Digital leaders must have the ability to:

  • Absorb and understand information quickly
  • Learn at pace
  • Connect ideas, people and opportunities seamlessly.

Essentially, leaders who truly ride the digital wave have to be motivated to continually learn about and embrace new digital enablements and opportunities, adapting as they go.

Are your leaders “always on”?  Cubiks’ talent assessment experts can help you identify the extent to which your leaders are ready to harness today’s digital demands.

Learn how to assess & develop your leaders, helping you power leadership decisions and build a successful organisation.

If you’d like to know how your organisation can benefit, email info@cubiks.com or get in touch with your local Cubiks team.


About Daryl

Daryl heads up the UK consultancy operation at Cubiks. She has responsibility for building the UK business across the talent identification spectrum, leading a team of skilled organisational psychologists who design and deliver a broad range of talent solutions.

Connect with Daryl on LinkedIn.

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