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Yes, another blog post on the internet about Leadership. But, this one will be a bit different. The focus will be on digital leadership, what that means, and the unique challenges the current business environment presents for digital leaders. In this blog post, we will look at four unique challenges the leaders of today face, and then in four future blogs, we will dive deeper into each of these challenges.

Digital Leadership

If you google, “What is a leader,” you will find page after page of search results of quotes on leadership. Every thought leader has a quote or two out there about what being a leader means to them. There are many authors that have made a fortune diving into the topic. We aren’t knocking them. We love the leadership quotes and read any good leadership book we can get our hands-on. But, times have changed, and the leadership advice that worked yesterday doesn’t necessarily fit in our new normal of the modern business world.

Digital Leadership Defined

Jeffrey Ritter from The University of Oxford defines “digital leadership,” as: “Digital leadership is the strategic use of a company’s digital assets to achieve business goals. Digital leadership can be addressed at both organizational and individual levels.” That is a good working definition. But, there is something key to note:

To be a successful leader today, you must excel at digital leadership. 

The successful modern leader must not only be competent in the traditional leadership roles, but also in all the roles of a digital leader. While some leaders might get by with just the skills of yesterday’s leaders, with over 65% of global GDP already being digitized, leaders will need to be good digital leaders to succeed long term.

The good news is that most businesses have already attempted some type of digital transformation and are prioritizing digital leadership. Yet, 70% of digital transformations fail, which is a direct reflection of digital leadership. However, even when a company does successfully transform digitally and excels at social capital enablement, leaders will still face several challenges. Here are a few of the challenges digital leaders will face:

The Challenge of Remote and Hybrid Workforces

The pandemic and Covid-19 brought about a change in how, or more specifically where, we work. It is estimated that over 25% of the workforce will be working remotely by the end of this year, and that it will only increase in 2023. However, the trend towards a remote workforce had already begun and was just expedited by the pandemic.

Though there are many advantages to having a remote workforce, it does present challenges for digital leaders. And, to successfully lead a remote workforce, a leader must efficiently utilize digital assets. Many of the challenges are within communications and productivity management. However, with the correct tools, a good process, and a commitment to work with your team to overcome challenges, digital leaders should succeed at leading remote and hybrid workforces.

Communication Challenges for Digital Leaders

Communication is key to successful digital transformation. And, communication can make or break a digital leader. In previous generations, a leader within a company might stand in front of all employees in the office, bark out the orders of the day, and be considered a great communicator. But, communication is much more complex these days.

There are many challenges within communication. For many leaders, it starts with learning where and how your workforce communicates, then selecting the right tech and tools for a multi-channel approach, or optimizing the current tech stack. Then, streamlining communication to make it more efficient.

But, above all, communication often comes down to culture. A successful digital leader must foster an engaging environment with open and efficient communication.

Tech Stack and Tech Change Challenges for Digital Leaders

Change is constant in the modern business world, especially when it comes to technology. Digital leaders and IT departments face a constant barrage of new technology. New tech allows leaders to solve business issues and increase efficiency and productivity. But, selecting the right new tech to implement is a challenge. Then, implementing new tech brings many more challenges.

When a leader successfully digitally transforms an organization, the truth is that the transformation never ends. A successful business is constantly transforming. A digital leader that understands how to utilize new technology, and which technology to implement, will be positioned well for success.

How The Great Resignation Impacts Digital Leaders

The great resignation, also called “the big quit, refers to the large number of American workers that have voluntarily left the workforce. This trend, brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, has continued even as businesses opened back up. In fact, in March of this year, 4.53 million Americans resigned from the workforce, a number higher than the 4.51 million at the height of the pandemic.

The great resignation is a major challenge facing digital leaders. It can lead to talent deficits in key areas within an organization. However, a good digital leader can not only overcome these issues, but can head them off before they become an issue through proper social capital enablement, and understanding and effectively managing the modern workers. But, it is important to note that getting and keeping quality talented employees will be a challenge for leaders going forward and it is vital to develop the digital leadership skills to overcome this challenge.

Diving Deeper Into Digital Leadership Challenges

We will be diving deeper into the four digital leadership challenges above in future blog posts. We will look at how each challenge affects digital transformations, how they impact digital leaders, and provide insights on how leaders and organizations can overcome the challenges.

If you’re looking to learn more about the challenges digital leaders face, watch the below video on the challenges leaders face with implementing digital transformations: