Embrace Technology to Develop Digital Leaders

Technology is disrupting and revolutionizing all elements of the workplace. Businesses are increasingly interconnected, competition occurs on a global scale, and new industries are rapidly created and destroyed. According to a 2017 Accenture Strategy poll, “64% of responders agreed that the pace of change in their job is speeding up due to technology changes.” Technological advancement occurs exponentially, so the rate of change in the workplace will only continue to increase. Businesses must be able to adapt as rapidly as their environments change. To succeed in the digital age, businesses must embrace technology and develop “digital leaders” to increase organizational agility, collaboration, and transparency.

Digital leaders embrace technology and promote teamwork. They can exist regardless of age and hierarchical level. Digital leaders, “must understand how to build and lead teams; keep people connected and engaged; and drive a culture of innovation, learning, and continuous improvement” (Abbatielo, Knight, Philpot, Roy). The days of successful leaders possessing only one skill set are over. Digital leaders possess interdisciplinary skills honed through work within cross-functional teams. They understand and embrace the benefits of technology, which helps ensure their respective organizations remain on the cutting edge.

Millennials are primed to assume the mantle of digital leaders: they are the most tech-savvy generation ever to enter the workplace. Millenials value lifelong learning and want to apply their varied skill sets. However, millennials are being neglected – according to Deloitte Insights, “only 28 percent believe their organization is fully taking advantage of their skills.” Furthermore, most of the millennials in leadership positions,“believe they are receiving little to no development in their roles.” Businesses who do not engage and empower their millennial workforce will be unable to develop a team of digital leaders for the long-run. Businesses seem aware of the problem: Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey reveals “only 5 percent of companies feel they have strong digital leaders in place.” Forward-looking organizations urgently need to empower millennials, the workforce of the future, to become digital leaders.  Tony Petrucci, CEO of The Leadership Analytics Group – powered by DevelapMe, weighs in on the conversation about millennials:

Companies must dispel traditional hierarchical communication methods to maximize the benefits of digital leaders. Indeed, as Deloitte Insights indicates, “Ninety percent of companies are redesigning their organizations to be more dynamic, team-centric, and connected.” To develop the necessary agility to thrive in today’s professional landscape, businesses need to empower employees of all levels. Rigid hierarchical structures are antiquated. These vertical chains of command limit crucial input from employees closest to the ground floor and discourage peer-to-peer communication. Rigidity can create a disconnect between actions and feedback because supervisors are not always around, and may only discuss discuss performance with direct reports at scheduled times. Hierarchical flattening promotes openness, improves agility, and increases the amount of feedback all employees receive. If employees feel comfortable providing feedback to all others within the organization, they are much more likely to receive invaluable feedback from a wide variety of sources. As GE puts it, businesses must, “shift from ‘command and control’ to ‘empower and inspire.’”

A major key to ending the developmental drought and empowering employees to become digital leaders? Utilizing real-time performance feedback.