While there are several definitions of “digital leader”, the one which resonates with my thinking is “A digital leader is a senior leader who promotes long-term digital transformation through not only technology, but a combination of strong strategy, culture, structure, and collaboration”.

Digital transformation is high on the corporate agenda of organisations across all levels and industry verticals. Millennials are the largest living generation today, and they form a large portion of the workforce. This digital-native workforce generation is extremely comfortable with the latest tools and technologies and expects their leaders also to be tech-savvy. Today’s leaders, therefore, not only have to have a firm grasp on technology but also need to have the vision and innovative mindset to bring a fresh mindset to the table.

At Inteliment and Rubiscape, we work with several thought-leading CXOs who are leading the digital transformation change in their organisations. I have been fortunate to interact with several of those. And apart from their solid technical understanding, I believe there are some very peculiar traits that differentiate them from others.

They have the vision

When it comes to leading digital transformation, vision is everything. Digital leaders understand that digital transformation is an opportunity for them to create a competitive differentiator, to come up with new business models, to create stellar customer experiences, and to innovate. They are equipped to carve a holistic digital strategy to ensure business growth and lead disruption.

They strike a fine balance between legacy systems and innovation etching the digital era

Digital leaders have a broad understanding to delve into balancing the organisation’s strategies. The pace at which technology is mitigating has necessitated the need to stand by the same in order to strive for success. And digital leaders know exactly when to strike the rod hot. Digital winners are ones who expertly leverage diversity in the workforce while optimizing their current business strategy.

They understand the importance of building the right team

The most effective way to boost a company’s performance in the digital age is by hiring the right talent. Efficient digital leaders seek expertise to enhance the firm’s overall efficiency. This does not simply suggest hiring the right professional but mapping the young digital enthusiasts with the existing experienced resources. Thought-leading digital leaders gather the best from the market to create a mix of a technologist with the digital-savvy leaders. At the same time, they understand the importance of giving the team creative freedom and space. They allow their teams to fail and learn.

They are experimental and embrace risks

Making mistakes is unavoidable and digital leaders understand that. True that the digital world is mostly unpredictable and plagued by risks, influential digital leaders steer in an environment of sequential work culture to alter the same to parallel working. They inspire others to be creative, take risks, introduce new policies, try new technologies, introduce a new method of working – all while acknowledging that failing is still an option.

They thrive in uncertainties

Digital leaders believe that chaos only creates a path for a better future. They strive to delve in uncertainties and see failures as the way to learn and succeed. They believe that digital does not justify staying on the safe side by simply adopting technology but induce innovation in all situations to see an exponential growth of the organisation.

They thrive in ambiguity while seeking clarity

Until the twentieth century, the strategy opted by all organisations worldwide worked to achieve clarity. However, the growing pace of the digital economy has forced today’s leaders to delve in a tough and complex situation. This leads the adoption of ambiguity by all the digital leaders. Digital leaders seamlessly function in an ambiguous situation by acknowledging that they will learn on their way and constant change is the name of the game.

They are collaborative

Today’s digital age demands strong collaboration between various departments within an organisation. Knowledge sharing is paramount and sharing of information and insights across departments is the need of the hour. Thankfully, today technology is available to enable such collaboration. Effective digital leaders work towards bringing in the cultural change to foster collaboration through an open environment. In fact, they themselves take a lot of efforts to involve teams in decisions, elicit ideas, and discuss issues to come up with possible solutions.

Digital leaders are the mentors, the influencers, and possess contagious enthusiasm. They understand the power of technology and the importance of building a team that can transform ideas into reality. They emphasise on creating the right culture – the culture of innovation, the culture of collaboration, and the culture of risk-taking. To be very honest, I think all the leaders will need to be digital leaders in the very near future – how about we all start prepping up now?