Because of its inherent uncertainty, change can be hard for both individuals and groups. Culture transformation requires changing the way people behave. Digital transformation requires changing the way people perceive technology and making the shift from using traditional methods to solve problems to seeking digital solutions first. Both of these transformations require changing the hearts and minds of every individual in the organization—which always starts with leadership.
4 Leadership Traits for Digital and Culture Transformation
Organizational leaders have an important role in the success of a digital or culture transformation and ensuring clarity so that everyone can fully support the initiative. When undertaking a significant change in your organization, look for these four key traits among the leadership team to ensure a successful transformation.
Few employees are interested in transforming just for the sake of change. Without strong reasons for adopting new systems or changing behavior, it’s difficult to build the conviction necessary to change hearts and minds. Leaders who have the ability to convey the purpose for the change are more likely to convince others. When employees understand that change is necessary to stay competitive, increase productivity, or achieve specific organizational goals, it’s easier to get them on board. Purpose-driven leaders are able to successfully convey why a change is taking place in addition to how it will happen.
2. Big-Picture Thinkers
How do leaders determine what change needs to happen in the organization? By looking at the big picture. Leaders must have the ability to step outside daily operational tasks to strategize about the future of the company. They must also be able to manage priorities as they arise throughout the transformation. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum—leaders must keep a close eye on industry trends, the competition, and the innovators within the organization to determine where the company is headed. Big-picture thinkers have the ability to identify where the organization should be heading next while managing the company’s current initiatives at the same time.
3. Proactive Problem-Solvers
When undergoing a digital or cultural transformation, there will inevitably be issues that nobody predicted. Leaders must be observant, agile, and proactive in order to recognize and fix something that isn’t working. Communication is a critical element in problem-solving, and strong leaders must be able to both listen to employees’ insights and concerns and convey their own ideas effectively. Proactive problem-solvers don’t wait for issues to arise; they recognize them before they happen and take steps to avoid them.
Transforming a culture requires participation across the organization. Individuals and teams must work together to implement new systems, hold each other accountable, and come up with new solutions. Leaders must foster these relationships and demonstrate this type of cooperation through their own behaviors. Collaborators actively engage with others to meet objectives and solve problems, and they inspire others to do the same.
A digital transformation is more than just adopting a new software system—it is changing the way people in an organization think about technology. A culture transformation is much more than key phrases posted throughout the building—it is changing the way people behave.
Both of these endeavors require strong leaders who can clearly define the purpose of the transformation, see the big picture, proactively provide solutions, and create an environment in which people work together to achieve a common purpose. The good news is that all of these skills can be taught and developed. A good leader is a lifelong learner who recognizes where they could improve and takes steps to fill those gaps. If you are planning a digital or cultural transformation, take an honest look at your leadership team and determine whether they have the necessary skills and traits. If not, consider a leadership development program to boost your skills before undergoing a transformation.