The role of leadership in a successful digital transformation

In our previous blog, we focussed on the five key traits of a company with a strong digital culture. One of the prominent features was an engaged leadership team which can embed valuable culture within the organisation.
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Digital transformation leaders need an executive to help coordinate efforts across the organisation for enablement attempts to succeed. In recent years, we have seen the rise in job titles such as ‘Chief Digital Officer’ and ‘Director of Digital Transformation’. This executive leadership can also take the form of a C-level sponsor or a small team who advocates and coordinates digital transformation efforts across the organisation alongside their other role(s). Certainly, the job doesn’t end upon appointing a digital leader, but in fact, all C-level executives need to be aligned with a similar goal.

In order for a digital transformation to be successful, it has to be done company-wide. Hence, the support from senior leaders is essential to ensure that the entire company funds, creates, and manages employee experiences, as well as enables effective delivery. A project must not become siloed within a digital transformation team where it turns into an unconnected vanity project with no input from the rest of the company.

The role of an executive sponsor is to promote the vision and values while connecting the digital transformation initiatives to the business’ goals. They are responsible for ensuring that the ‘big picture’ is always understood and does not get lost in the day-to-day trivial details that a project necessitates. They are fundamental in ensuring that the communication concerning the project is clear across all sectors and levels of the organisation.

An executive sponsor’s duty is not to run the project in detail but to ensure that there is the right mix of team members who can deliver the project successfully. While explaining how fascinating a new digital solution will be for the team, and how much it will enhance their work-life, the workforce might worry about their job security in the future. Therefore, by understanding people’s emotional response to change, an executive sponsor can empower action and remove obstacles.

Even though it is important to recognize the implications of the digital initiatives they pursue, executive sponsors also need to maintain a sense of urgency and don’t wait for others to embrace digital transformation before making a move. They can identify the early adopters and use them as a catalyst in helping to lead the change.

With this in mind, we will look into the key responsibilities of an executive sponsor in digital culture in our next blog.

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