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Five Digital Leadership Skills for 2019 and Beyond

Posted On08/26/2019

ContributorKaila Prins

By Catherine Tansey

The new digital culture and economy in which we live and operate has forced a shift in the leadership landscape. While leaders still need to hone traditional leadership competencies like expert communication, the ability to inspire, and a capacity to foster collaboration, the digital era also demands skills centered around adaptability and technology. Moreover, to successfully implement and oversee digital transformation initiatives in an organization, leaders must be able to manage teams, projects, and programs with digital fluency and an agile nature.

Hiring for a leadership position, or vying for one yourself? Consider these five digital leadership skills needed today.

Technological Mindset

It has been said that today every company is a technology company. Proponents of this idea aren’t arguing that every company makes a tech product, but rather the digitalization of life has created a tech component for many functions in a given company. Whether running the website of a local brick and mortar shop, or using cloud-based enterprise resource-planning software, leaders in the digital age need technical aptitude and competence.

Agile Nature

The only constant is change itself. One of the top digital leadership skills to have is not a skill so much as an attitude, a mindset, and an ethos. Originating as an approach to organizing software development, the principles of agility have been adopted cross-functionally in enterprises to streamline productivity with frequent assessments to ensure the project and team are on track. With the accelerated pace of change that digitalization has enabled, leaders must be able to adjust pace and change course rapidly, all while leading a team.

Empathetic Communication

Several factors have contributed to the rise of global teams, but none more so than the open communication and exchange of information enabled by the internet. As such, leaders are finding themselves managing teams across global, cultural, and linguistic lines—challenges that can quickly become insurmountable without an expert communicator to facilitate team interactions. To be a leader in the digital age, individuals need empathy-based communication skills to foster collaboration, ease cultural differences, and support team members.

Project Management

As company hierarchies have grown flatter and more project-based, project management has become an increasingly necessary skill for leaders in the digital era. Whether overseeing digital transformation initiatives or managing projects to carry out the organization’s strategic agenda, project management is here to stay as a top digital leadership skill.

Disruptive Thinking

Leaders must be primed for transformation and change all the time. Enterprises are looking for people who leverage technology to upend traditional business models with creativity through disruptive thinking. It’s no surprise creativity is considered one of the most important traits for which to hire in 2020. Beyond the design-based roles we traditionally associate with creativity, the concept is more akin to imaginativeness, and in the context of critical thinking, extends to the ability to solve problems in a novel and insightful way—a must-have for any leader today.

Leaders need specific skills for the digital era to complement their existing approach to managing people, projects, and teams. With an emphasis on all things technical, leaders fare well in learning agile principles, having a baseline level of digital fluency, and understand the principles of effective project management. But staying in-the-know on the latest trends, research, and findings for leadership in the digital age can be challenging. Visit Nelson’s events and webinars page today for all the information you need to stay one step ahead of HR and business trends.